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Student Groups: The University Version of your Lunch Table

Written by Brian Tsang on behalf of RU Student Life

In your first days of university classes, you will be entering unfamiliar spaces with unfamiliar people, and I know that this can (and most times) will leave you feeling just a tad overwhelmed…
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But! Have no fear, I have found a solution to this issue, and that is to JOIN A STUDENT GROUP!

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So why go through the awkward process of getting to know a bunch of strangers? Here are 3 reasons why:

1. The people you meet in university will greatly have an impact on your career

Whether it’s professionally or with your school work, the people you meet through student groups will be there to journey with you as you face challenges and overcome obstacles. They are people you will be able to relate to and feed off of. In a professional sense, creating a network starts with the people around you, and what greater way to network than to make at least a couple of close friends who can leverage opportunities for you? Remember, sometimes it’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know. Think of it like Mario Kart double dash; you help each other by lending your strengths to get to the top spot.

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2. The people you meet can very well become your life-long friends

Here at Ryerson, we believe in diversity. That being said, no student group is exclusive to their title. For example, I’m actually an executive on the Filipino Canadian Association at Ryerson, but I’m not even Filipino! I actually have a Chinese-Caribbean background. The titles of groups serve as a jumping off point for the connection you make with people. If you like gaming, you can join the GAMER group at Ryerson. If you are of a certain cultural descent, you can join a group accordingly, but more importantly, in any group that you join, there will be people there that you will be able to befriend. There will be people similar to you. There may be people you don’t like very much, but there will be people that you consider to be your best of friends! The great thing about the transition point that you’re in is that you get to start over – forget all the fake fronts and personas you had to put out to the world in high school – you can start over and just BE YOURSELF. People will love you for your truest self, and you don’t have to hide that here.

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3. You will learn, grow, and have opportunities to help others

As you journey through university, you will grow and mature, and you may find yourself wanting to contribute to the community somehow. By being a part of a student group, you’ll be presented many opportunities to give back – lend a helping hand to your peers who need it most. With the next years to come, you will see students struggling with the same things that you did, but because you already completed that chapter in your life, you’ll be able to take the wisdom from your story and share it with those new students.

Seriously though, there REALLY ARE STUDENTS LIKE YOU. We have so many different groups of students who gather around shared interests like skateboarding, dancing, religious beliefs, spoken word, online gaming, sports, and many, many more. By joining with these people who share your interests, or even if they don’t, you open yourself to learning new things and bettering yourself in ways you never imagined were possible.

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So get out there. Really get other there. There are many opportunities available to you to do this. One of them is the Ryerson Passport Program, which can help you track your involvement and volunteer hours over your stay in university. It can also show you what cool events are taking place while you’re stuck at school during breaks in your schedule. During the first week of class, many of the student groups will be set up on Gould Street during the RSU’s Week of Welcome so that you can peruse and sign up for them. My advice? Take a chance, get awkward, and really put yourself out there. It’s been said that the worst thing you can do to yourself is set yourself up to live with regrets, and this is the time to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s the time to make the most of the opportunities in front of you. Trust me, it’s MUCH harder to rally up a group of adults from the working world to cosplay at an anime convention than it is to do here and now. It’s up to you students, are you going to end up at 80 years of age looking back and thinking, “What if I had just done it?” or are you going to be able to say that you had some of the best times of your life because you took a chance?