Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

From the editor’s desk: Finding your place at Miami takes time

Hey folks,

I attended my first day of class at Miami University from my childhood bedroom five hours away from Oxford, just outside Pittsburgh.

To say it was an underwhelming start to my college experience would be an understatement.

I spent five weeks taking classes from home because of the pandemic, and when I finally moved to campus in mid-September, I had just two classes in person some of the time. In the spring semester, only one of my classes was in-person.

My first year felt impersonal and hazy at times, like what I was doing wasn’t real. It was impossible to focus on online classes, impossible not to look at my phone and space out for an entire class, impossible even to take in the information I was supposed to be learning.

In short, if it weren’t for The Miami Student, my first year at college would have been a waste.

Joining The Student wasn’t a natural decision for me — I was coerced into it by a professor and an undergraduate assistant who worked as an editor at the time. I attended my first meeting before I moved to Ohio, and I wrote my first story before getting to campus, too. Ironically, it was about how first-year students’ social lives would be primarily virtual. Looking back, I would have written that story much differently today, but it sent me down a path of involvement at The Student that gave my time at Miami meaning.

If this is your first year at Miami, you may not be starting the semester remotely, but it will have its own unique challenges nonetheless.

College won’t meet your expectations. You may not have a magical moment in your first week on campus when you become best friends with your hallmates. The monotony of daily classes might set in sooner than you’d like, that nagging voice telling you it’s okay to start skipping, and those fabled student-professor relationships that lead to new opportunities will be frustrating to seek out.

But your time here may exceed your expectations in even more ways than it lets you down.

I continued writing for The Student throughout my first semester because it gave me a sense of purpose. I learned more from managing my time and interacting with sources than I did from classes, both about myself and about journalism as a profession. But it took time to make friends.

It took until my second semester when the same editor who bullied me into joining asked me to be an assistant editor before I really started to feel a sense of community here. I started going to in-person events, spread out across multiple rooms with five-person limits, and I started talking to the other staffers here. More accurately, they started talking to me — but it was progress.

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Jump ahead two years, and I’ve made all my friends through the paper. Every meeting is the highlight of my week, and every social event is the highlight of my month. I’ve grown as a person and watched my peers grow. We’re all working together toward the common goal of keeping this community informed and engaged.

So what should you do as you start this new journey?

If you don’t find your friends in your first semester, that’s normal. If your time here feels like it’s lacking in purpose, seek it out. Don’t let yourself be confined to the four walls of a classroom to define your college experience.

Regardless of your level of interest, I’d suggest joining a club or organization as soon as possible. If that organization is TMS, great! Welcome aboard, we’re happy to have you. If it’s somewhere else, fantastic! Let us know what cool things you’re doing there, and we’d be happy to cover it.

And if the organization you join doesn’t feel like a perfect fit for you right away, give it time. It may take a few events to find your flow, or maybe after that time you’ll realize it isn’t for you after all. There’s no shortage of other organizations to look into, and you have time to explore.

Maybe your community isn’t on campus at all. There are plenty of groups in Oxford itself from the community band to the Talawanda-Oxford Pantry and Social Services that would love to have you as a volunteer or a member. Just as you shouldn’t confine your college experience to the classroom, you shouldn’t confine it to campus, either.

Nine months from now, you’ll be looking back on your first year of college, not forward to it. The next three years will go even quicker.