To be honest, I did not like Jewell at all when I first got here. I found the lack of participation from a lot of the student body to be disappointing, and I became one of those people who had no school spirit.
I had heard stories from my older brother about how much he loves it here, but upon my arrival, I did not immediately see what all the hype was about. I found that so many people on campus did not feel the need to partake in activities that were designed to be fun. However, while I did not like this aspect of Jewell, I found myself getting caught up in it. I had imagined college as a place where everyone is super energetic about their school and is involved in lots of activities. I was very wrong and naive to assume that. The biggest display of this was Homecoming. While a large number of students on campus did come together and participate, there was obviously a significant chunk of the student body that was not present. I was guilty of this too. I went to only a couple of the events and left the football game early. I was so disappointed by the lack of involvement, but I was part of the problem.
I will be the first to admit that my first semester was just average. Classes were so-so and I was having some fun, but it was not anything spectacular. I went to maybe two football games and those were the only sporting events I attended first semester. Most of the things I did were required for a class or because my friends practically dragged me. I found it easier to hide out in my room than to participate in activities around campus. Now I know that this was part of my unhappiness at Jewell; I was not willing to get involved in campus-wide activities.
When I went home to Virginia for winter break, it became very evident that my laziness was the root of my distaste for Jewell. I saw all of my old high school friends and they seemed like they were living the dream at their respective colleges and universities. The common factor between all of them was that they were super involved. They all put themselves out there on their campuses and had a blast doing it. Sure, they had their stories of embarrassment when they tried to do something and it did not work out for them, but that is just how life goes.
At such a small school, actively seeking opportunities is key. I would find myself turning down offers to hang out with people and was not very involved in organizations on campus because I was afraid: afraid of what people would think of me, of losing myself in the pressures of college life and of not having fun. The second semester has only just begun, but I can already feel a major change. I think it all comes down to the fact that I have become more involved on campus. I made the decision to join The Hilltop Monitor and Zeta Tau Alpha, which have both led to a boost in my confidence on campus.
I think the issues I had first semester are common around campus. I often overhear people saying they have nothing to do at school and that they dislike it here. At a small school like ours, there is a very distinct difference between doing the bare minimum and really giving it your all. Unfortunately, I see a lot of people on campus who are apathetic about student life and do not really take advantage of all of opportunities Jewell has to offer. I am not under any delusion that Jewell is the perfect place for everyone. However, I do believe that if you are not happy here, putting yourself out there is one solution to the problem. And if that does not work out, are you really any worse off than you were before?
I encourage everyone to make an active effort in improving their happiness on campus. I can now say I am probably the happiest I have ever been because of my involvement on campus. Join an intramural team, attend a choir concert or go to a sporting event. Whatever it is, give it your all and I truly hope it works out for you as well as it has for me.