Beyond academics: Finding your campus community

Three students laughing and hanging out while playing Lotería in one of the Cross Cultural Center’s many common areas.
Students laugh while playing Lotería at the Cross Cultural Center. (UC Davis)

Your time at college should encompass more than just your academic experience. Woah, bold statement alert! Is an actual university admissions blog telling you that college isn’t all about academics?

Don't just take my word for it — hear from our experts!

“A campus community fosters a sense of belonging, encourages personal growth, and enriches the academic experience through collaboration. 

When you begin your journey, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Explore clubs and organizations, attend campus events, take advantage of student resources and say yes to new opportunities that come your way – especially if they’re daunting and unfamiliar. 

You might just make lifelong friends or meet mentors that will not only shape your time at university, but also influence your future endeavors beyond graduation.” 

— Joelle Suh, recruitment coordinator, UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions

While classes and academic pursuits play a large role (I’ll go as far as to say the starring role) in one’s college journey, other aspects are just as important to take into consideration when deciding on which university you want to attend. University is a time for self-exploration, enriching adventures and saying yes to new possibilities at every turn. Building community and finding a place where you feel you belong will make your overall experience much more enjoyable. You might even create a new place to call home.

But how do you get a feel for a university’s community before going there? You’re already on the right track if you’re asking this question!

Search student organizations and clubs

College is unique to high school or even community college for the sheer number of clubs and student organizations that you can take part in. Most universities have a dedicated webpage where you can explore the lengthy catalog of clubs and organizations available. At UC Davis, students have over 800 clubs to explore including Greek life, the Arabic Language Club, the Finance and Investment Club, Davis Ballroom Dance, the Health Equity and Social Justice Club and the Nintendo Club at UC Davis, to name a few. Spend time looking into clubs and organizations that align with your current passions or search new opportunities that pique your interest and spark your curiosity!

Look for student resources on campus
Draft Horse and Driving club teams pose for a holiday photo shoot on the quad.
UC Davis offers a lot of unique clubs and organizations for incoming students to join, like the Draft Horse and Driving clubs! (UC Davis)

Entering a new place is sometimes daunting but luckily a lot of universities offer on-campus support. These are places that will help guide you through your collegiate journey. When searching online or asking college representatives, look to see how the institution enhances your overall experience and contributes to student success. UC Davis’ Community Resource and Retention Centers webpage showcases all the resources that students have to get the support they need to thrive at UC Davis.

Community centers are also great places to create community and find belonging. Joseph Martinez, who leads the UC Davis Cross Cultural Center, wants students to know that support organizations exist and help make a campus feel welcoming.

 “Academics get tough, so when we know we have a community of support that’s when we feel we belong,” Martinez said. “I can go into an area and share space with people who have similar experiences to me. When you find that, university feels like home.”

Isabella Beristain returns to UC Davis, as a staff writer and editor, after graduating in 2022. She works closely with the UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions team and partners, to bring you the inside scoop on admissions info. With over five years in marketing and a knack for storytelling, Isabella ensures your start to college is both entertaining and enlightening.

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