Why you should invest in Quad Day

By Matt Silich, Opinions Editor

Unless you’re one of those engineering students who attends classes for an extra semester or two, you’re probably only going to enjoy four years on this campus.

That’s four chances to make new friends, four chances to get off on the right foot this time, four chances to start anew.

Of course, the college process is more complex than that. You can switch directions at any moment: perhaps pivoting into a new extracurricular activity in the middle of a semester or choosing a new major halfway through the whole endeavor.

But when summer is ending, and internships (or months of sitting in a bed watching movies) come to their somber conclusions, it certainly doesn’t feel like you’re standing at the gates of infinite possibility.

It feels like, to me at least, you have one shot to get it right this time. Each day of our college lives is precious, and choosing the wrong direction could waste those valuable hours. That can be pretty scary, especially when you’re an apprehensive freshman staring at the seniors atop the mountain and wondering where the winding path up there even begins.

The good news is, if you’re reading this column, you’re probably already there. Quad Day is one of the best places, if not the absolute best place, to shape the course of your semester. The possibilities aren’t quite infinite, but they are widespread and varied.

I didn’t take those opportunities seriously during my freshman year, and three years later I feel uniquely qualified to advise against treating Quad Day like some mishmash of clubs you won’t care about handing out free stuff.

I came into the University as an engineering major who never felt quite right about that placement, but felt too guilty to do anything about it. I could have spent my first Quad Day actively engaging with various RSOs, and perhaps landing at the very place that I’ve spent the majority of my past two years: the Daily Illini.

Ride that “what if?” train a bit further and maybe you’d see me quickly recognize my real passion, climb to the top of The Daily Illini food chain within months and somehow prevent Donald Trump from becoming the Republican nominee. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s easy to imagine life being at least a little bit more fun over the past few years.

Instead, I followed the lead of my friends (whom I had only just met) and messed around, looking for free goodies and signing up for clubs whose emails I would later send into the Spam folder.

I’m not anti-goodies — you should absolutely go out there sans conscience and get as many free frisbees and pens as you can — but there’s room for a middle ground. Signing up robotically for a few clubs and then leaving isn’t good enough either.

Don’t make the same mistakes I did: This opportunity to grow personally, professionally and academically only comes once a year.

This Quad Day, whether it be your first or your last, take time to actually talk to the human beings behind the tables after you steal all their stuff.

There’s no better way to discover whether you’re going to enjoy something than to ask the people who experience it every day, so make sure you seriously take their thoughts into account.

And who knows, you might discover something that becomes a lot more than just another extracurricular to throw at the bottom of your resume.

Matt is a senior in Media.

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