Making Students Feel Welcome
If you’re already engaged on campus, and either feel comfortable where you are or haven’t left the program yet, you’re experiencing firsthand the joys of doing more in school than just showing up to class, groaning mid-lecture, and then leaving.
How did you join whatever it is you’re now doing? Maybe you love volunteering – or Salsa dancing with the gang – so much that you just walked up to a meeting and uttered those magic words, “can I join?”
Not everyone feels comfortable enough to do that though. For many newer students, and even some veterans, joining a new group or applying for a student position can be very intimidating, especially if they don’t know either the people or the process of the club, group, etc.
If you’re engaged on campus, then everybody around you should know at least 1 person in your group. With just a bit of talking and encouragement, everyone around you could know the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of joining, too.
I’ve met a lot of people who want to join The Other Press, but either are too shy to, or don’t know how. I’ve never thought of myself as a student leader because of my job, but in this one way, other students have. People really appreciate when I open the invitation out to them. If not, I get questions like this:
“How do I apply?” they ask. “What if I can’t think of a story?” they say. “When are the meetings,” and “where are the meetings?” People ask so many questions, I started to wonder, ‘is this really what they wanted to ask?’
And then I thought about it, and those questions turn into “would you help me apply?” “Would you give me some advice on writing a first story?” and “will you be there when I go?”
This isn’t always the case; if Douglas students are anything, it’s competent. However even in the most independent people, knowing that you know someone ‘on the inside’ is helpful. So now, I say this.
“Do you want to come with me to a meeting some time? Writing with us is easy! I can help you with a pitch and everything,” and that’s what they’re looking for. They actually come, once I frame it that way, because when students want to join a new group, what they’re looking for isn’t information, it’s support.
You may not think of yourself as a student leader, but a lot of students will, simply because of the opportunity you represent. So for the start of the new year, I challenge everyone reading this to think about it: how you could make the entry process of your group more welcoming?
Let me know in the comments below: What groups are you a part of on campus, and what could you be doing to make new students feel more welcomed?