You just finished your senior year of high school. You are about to walk across stage and get that diploma and finally make your way to the beautiful campus grounds of George Mason University. You check out the George Mason University Class of 2018 page on Facebook, and try to find people who are going to be off-campus students just like you. It’s a brand new environment, and like your freshman year of high school, you want to scope out the scene and find some people who share your interests. Recently, I read a post on the page that stood out to me. An incoming freshman wrote that she was going to be an off-campus student and she was afraid that she would not have the full college experience because of her choice to not live on campus. Others commented on the post too, expressing similar concerns. After reading this post, I could not help but recall my first year as an off-campus student. My experience as an off-campus student has been quite unique. As a freshman, I chose to live on campus in the Cornerstones LLC in Piedmont Hall. After deciding that dorm life was not for me, I elected to move home, which was feasible since I did not live too far from Mason. This change certainly affected how I was connected to the campus. No longer was I surrounded by fellow students 24/7. No longer was I able to go to the late night diner with my hall mates and grab some pancakes. This choice was so difficult and I had some initial regrets about it. But you know something? Moving off-campus created a positive college experience for me. Being the shy person I am, moving off-campus helped me develop social skills, not that I didn’t have any before. Instead of having people right there, I had to make extra effort to maintain the friendships I had established my freshmen year. Even if I had to drive to campus to hang out with my on-campus friends, I wanted to be involved with what Mason had to offer me and wanted to have a solid friend group to hang out with while I was on campus. As a result of the extra effort that I put in, I not only strengthened my friendships but I also grew from a shy, uninvolved student to being involved in the campus life that I became so fascinated with when I first stepped foot on the campus as a freshman. When you make the extra effort to be involved, you can make your college experience your own. Maybe you are like me and need a little push from someone to get motivated. Maybe the idea of being involved immediately motivates you. However you feel, just know that dorm life alone does not determine your college experience. It is the effort that you put in to make your college experience the way you always envisioned it. So go ahead and check out what Mason has to offer. I mean, we do have hundreds of clubs to offer. From sports clubs to Greek Life, there is no reason you should not be involved. So go ahead and enjoy college. You were made for this. Congratulations Patriots! Welcome to Mason, YOU MADE IT!
Rachel Steiner, Off-Campus Advisor