Freshman or senior, it’s never too late to find new friends, interests

For many of us at Illinois, Quad Day marked the official beginning of our time on campus. Although most freshmen move in several days before Quad Day, those first few days are filled with sweaty afternoons at the pool and even sweatier nights out on the town. Quad Day marks the beginning of real life on campus. It’s the day thousands of overwhelmed newbies will sign up to receive emails from dozens of clubs — some that will change their lives and some that they will never join (and never stop receiving emails from).

Although everything stated above is true, Quad Day is so much more than the day that freshmen can “join stuff.” It can mark a new beginning for people of every grade level, major or interest.

I was lucky enough to join a few things immediately after Quad Day in fall 2010, but I have made a conscious effort to spread my wings and join something new each year since then. In fact, this is my first column for The Daily Illini after joining this past summer, and I couldn’t be more excited to start this new chapter in my time on campus.

When you consider whether to attend Quad Day this year, think of the phrase “better late than never.” College is the one time in life that you can (for the most part) do whatever you want, whenever you want. It’s one of very few times in life that you are allowed to put your own needs and wants above anything else — including pursuing interests that may not make as much sense 10 years from now.

Think about it. Right now you could join The Falling Illini, a club that has the sole purpose of promoting sky-diving among students. You might think twice about skydiving in a few years if you are married with kids and need to, you know, be alive to support them.

If you prefer to live life on the safe side, you have the option to join October Lovers, a club dedicated to celebrating all that fall has to offer, including apple picking, pumpkin carving, hay rides and more. Now, you may think fall is something that can be celebrated at any stage of life. This may be true, but you will never be able to celebrate it to the extent that this club will. Ten years from now, you might celebrate fall by ordering a pumpkin muffin at Starbucks and call it a day.

The list of opportunities and organizations at your disposal on campus is endless, but the point is just that — they are on campus. The minute you graduate and leave this fantasy world of friends and fun, the chances to do what you want, when you want start to dwindle. That may sound sad, but if you choose to join new clubs and expand your horizons while on campus, the friends you make and the fun you have will follow you wherever life takes you.

Whether this is your first or fourth Quad Day, make it a good one. Sign up for what interests you regardless of what your friends might think. Years down the road, you will not regret trying something new, but you might regret not taking a chance.

_John is a junior in Media._