Take advantage of opportunities in college before they’re gone

Illustration by Rachel Farzan

Ishaan Nandwani, Opinions Editor

Let’s face it: college is expensive. With tuition, textbooks and cost of living, there’s always something to pay for, adding up to thousands of dollars every year.

However, what students don’t often realize is that our dollars go toward more than just classes. They fund countless other resources, opportunities and experiences. Unfortunately, our time in college is fleeting, and before we know it, these resources are no longer available to us.

Worry not, though: I’ve crafted a comprehensive guide to ensure that you are well aware of what our university has to offer, imbued with my own experiences with them. This is by no means all-encompassing, and for the sake of being concise, I’ll skip the obvious ones, like the gym.

Mental Health Services

VCU has expanded campus mental health services online by partnering with TimelyMD. Students can still make in-person appointments through University Counseling Services, but in my experience, it can be extremely difficult to get scheduled. 

With the introduction of virtual appointments, it’s easier than ever to be seen. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or would like to talk to someone, I suggest scheduling a visit.

Campus Learning Center: CLC

The Campus Learning Center, dubbed the CLC, is the best place for free academic support on campus. Offering supplemental instruction, academic coaching and tutoring, the CLC will get you the help you need to succeed in your classes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in your classes, because this program exists to help you.

I used to work at the CLC as a tutor, and can personally attest that the tutoring program has several brilliant, compassionate student tutors. It’s important to find the right tutor, so you should experiment with a few different tutors if you don’t instantly connect with someone.

Outdoor Adventure Program: OAP

If you’re a lover of all things nature, I highly recommend looking into the Outdoor Adventure Program, or OAP. The program offers trips including hikes, backpacking and climbing, and weekly boating activities such as kayaking and whitewater rafting. The trips have a small cost associated with them, but weekly boating is completely free for students.

Senior urban planning student and trips manager Lucy Bolin said that everyone should participate in the OAP.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been in a kayak or backpacked, all our events are open to beginners,” Bolin said. “It’s a great way to meet other students, faculty and community members, all while making lasting memories.”

Global Education Office

Everyone’s heard of studying abroad, but few realize how easy it is to do. I’ve had so many conversations with students who think that they don’t have the time for it, it’s too expensive, or that the logistics are too complicated.

With some planning ahead and the assistance of the Global Education Office, it’s not that intimidating and can be quite inexpensive when applying scholarships towards the cost. Special shoutout to Julia Wells, my advisor who helped plan my trip to Spain next semester — she was truly a lifesaver.

A friendly tip is to always read emails from the daily TelegRAM, VCU News and department-specific newsletters. While it’s easy to click “delete” — I’m certainly guilty of having done this in the past — these emails frequently advertise internships and research experiences. A quick skim takes no more than a few minutes, and it could lead to the opportunity that gets you hired for your next job.

I want to end this by emphasizing that your time in college is truly what you make of it. Opportunities are not going to fall into your lap; you have to actively seek them out.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to try out things that you might initially fear or be hesitant about. College is a time for novel experiences and leaps of faith; let’s do our best to take advantage of what it has to offer.

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