Claire AkinsThis time last year, I never would have expected to be at the University of Georgia. The  school has over 30,000 students, a large Greek life, and a serious football team. I never saw myself as fitting in at a school like this. However, I decided to attend the University of Georgia primarily for financial reasons, as in-state tuition is significantly cheaper. Although my intentions were based on money, I finished my freshman year happier than ever before. Over the course of the school year, I noted some benefits of the large campus and how they helped me find myself:

• Clubs, Clubs, Clubs!- A large campus means vast opportunities to get involved! I got to choose from over 300 organizations that allowed me to continue pursuing my passions as well as try new things. This was a fantastic way to meet fellow students and branch out of my comfort zone. My roommate, who was afraid of heights, joined the skydiving club and loved it! More clubs mean more ways to challenge yourself and even more people to support you along the way.

• The Ultimate School Spirit- My high school wasn’t very serious about sports, so I was shocked to see how UGA went all out! Every Saturday in the fall, everyone would pack into the stadium wearing red and black to support the Bulldogs. Our large campus also allows more room for famous landmarks and traditions, including a fountain that freshmen jump into at the end of every year. I was afraid that being at a large school would make me feel disconnected to others, but the sense of community was overwhelming. Of course it’s impossible to meet everyone at a school this big, but you still feel a sense of pride when you see another student wearing that red and black t-shirt.

• Jobs and Connections Galore!- The employment resources at UGA helped me immensely in critiquing my resume and perfect my interview skills. I was so grateful to have these resources right at my fingertips, as I can now go into interviews with much more confidence. Not only that, but surrounding myself with so many different kinds of people, whether from different religions, countries, or political backgrounds gave me a more well-rounded perspective to take into the real world.

I was quite surprised with the ways in which I fell in love with this school. It was large and scary at first, but if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone and given it a try, I never would’ve benefitted the way I did. As you enter the college application process, you don’t necessarily have to go to a huge school like I did, but make sure you are open to something unexpected! Try not to have preconceptions about certain schools, because looking deeper may surprise you and be the best decision of your life!