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Poll emphasizes importance of extracurricular involvement in helping students find sense of belonging - 3 articles enclosed

Students find community in extracurricular activities

By Avery Krause

Ohio Wesleyan University’s Introduction to Journalism class conducted a study on college life at the university. In this survey, students were asked questions about life on campus: including living, food, belonging, involvement, safety, and more. 

Around 71% of the students at Ohio Wesleyan are involved in 1-3 extracurricular activities. These can range from sports teams to on-campus employment opportunities, and clubs. Around 17% of the campus is involved in 3-5 extracurriculars. 

Many students join these extracurricular activities to feel a sense of belonging on a college campus and “make their mark” throughout their four years. 

A strong 69% of students feel like they belong at Ohio Wesleyan University, with 26% strongly agreeing that they belong on campus. 

Could this sense of belonging be linked to campus involvement? 

Lily Bechina, a sophomore student at Ohio Wesleyan is on the women's varsity volleyball team. She is also in the OWU Ski and Snowboard Club and in the Delta Delta Delta sorority on campus. 

As a freshman, Bechina said that it was an easy process to feel a sense of belonging as a fall athlete. 

“Being a part of a fall sport, we were on campus before everyone, so I already felt a sense of belonging. I had a group of people with my teammates, and a physical place that I could belong, being the volleyball court. On the first day, I felt connected with my teammates and had people I could turn to.” 

Bechina described how once her season was over, it was harder to find a place on campus. 

“As a freshman, once my season ended, I did not have any connections outside of volleyball. It was hard at first, but then joining other groups on campus allowed me to make more relationships and new friendships with people on campus”. 

Casey Conklin, a junior at Ohio Wesleyan describes her transition as a spring athlete. 

Conklin is on the women’s lacrosse team, in the Delta Delta Delta sorority, and has an on-campus job.

“My freshman year was a hard transition as a spring athlete. I felt lonely without a sport for the first time, and we did not do much team bonding in the fall. Because of this, I ended up making friends with a lot of non-athletes”. 

By the time the spring came, Conklin made many relationships with people not in her sport, but being in season made it a lot easier. 

“While in season, it is a lot easier to have deeper connections with people in my sport. I am always busy with my teammates, so I always had a group of friends in the spring, which created a sense of belonging for me on campus”. 

Being an athlete on campus creates a sense of community and belonging with any sport, whether in the fall, winter, or spring. Statistics and people on campus show that involvement is linked to a greater sense of belonging at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Becoming involved with all OWU has to offer improves students’ sense of community and comfort on campus

By Addie Beck

A survey conducted by Ohio Wesleyan University’s Intro to Journalism course revealed that 96 percent of students are involved in at least one extracurricular activity on campus. 

Activities such as these can be very influential for students to get involved at OWU and the results of this survey emphasize this and showcase their true popularity.

At a smaller school with more of an academic focus, it is essential that students take part in activities outside of classes. 

Freshman Stepan Dobrianskyi, a member of the Wesleyan Council of Student Affairs Club (WCSA), Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity (Fiji), the Dining Committee, as well as the Track and Field team, explains how frustrating it can be without anything besides school. 

“Find something that will take your mind off of school. It’s really frustrating when all you do is study,” said Dobrianskyi.

Participating in extracurricular activities can be very impactful on the lives of students through community and friendships, leadership skills, time management, and networking. 

Sophomore Claire Coleman, a member of the Track and Field team, Campus Programming Board, and the inaugural Nancy Bihl Rutkowski Leadership Fellowship, discusses the impact that these activities have had on her time at OWU. 

“I transferred to OWU, and being a part of a varsity sport has provided me with a wonderful community of people.  Coming in not knowing anyone was difficult at first, but I felt welcomed by everyone, which helped ease the transition.  Along with that, the NBR Leadership Fellowship has been a cool opportunity for growth in leadership and understanding of myself,” said Coleman. 

Freshman Melisa Guctas, a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, explains how being a part of Greek Life has helped her to find community at OWU. 

“I am a commuter student, so joining Theta has made making connections with my peers so much easier and I really feel like I found my people. It also helps me mentally to be a bit more social with the heavy course loads I have, it helps me to find a balance,” said Guctas.

These activities tend to have a very positive influence on students’ overall Ohio Wesleyan experience, and their popularity emphasizes that. 

Dobrianskyi shared a little bit about how being involved in activities has positively impacted his OWU experience. 

“Being involved in extracurricular activities helped me to develop time-management skills along with realizing the importance of contributing to campus life. Also, being involved in extracurriculars means you meet new people with the same interests as you. In my case, I was able to become a part of a friend group with whom I spent most of my weekends,” said Dobrianskyi. 

Although extracurricular activities can be very impactful to students’ experience, they can be hard to initially get involved in. 

Coleman explains how the student involvement fair in the fall can be very beneficial for students looking for activities to get involved with. 

“The student involvement fair at the start of the fall semester is a great opportunity to learn about what there is to offer at OWU.  I would recommend that students try out a few things to see what they like/are interested in, then get more involved/committed to one or two of those things,” said Coleman.

It can be scary at first for new students to really branch out and seek activities on campus. With this in mind, Guctas offers some advice to future freshmen at Ohio Wesleyan in terms of on-campus involvement. 

“Don’t be afraid to really step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. At the beginning of the year, I kind of just hid from everyone in my own bubble and let people come to me. It wasn’t until I started getting out of my comfort zone that I became a happier student. I honestly never thought I would join a sorority until I did, but I am so happy that I did,” said Guctas. 

Athletics help students find community at OWU

By McKenna Downing

A recent survey completed by the Ohio Wesleyan University communications class allowed students to answer questions about their life on campus and how they feel about the campus itself. This survey included questions about the students’ age, where they live, and how safe they feel on campus. 

One of the major questions that we asked students was how much they feel like they belong at Ohio Wesleyan University. Students responded to a scale of Strongly Agree, Agree, Mixed Opinion, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree.  

There were 41 (26%) respondents who said that they strongly agreed that they belong, 69 (43%) who agreed, 39 (24%) who have mixed opinions, and 6 (4%) who disagreed and 5 (3%) who strongly disagree with the statement. 

Based on these results, we concluded that most people are happy with how they feel like they belong at OWU. However, there are some people who do not feel like they belong at OWU. We decided to follow up with these people in order to find out more. 

An anonymous source that stated that they disagree with the statement said, “I feel like I don’t totally belong at OWU because I am not involved in any extracurricular activities. This makes it difficult to make friends.” 

In a follow up interview with sophomore Bailey Weise, she said, “I strongly agree that I belong at OWU because I am on the cross country and track teams. I came in as a freshman and immediately felt welcomed and like I had people to be friends with.”

Since 154 people (97%), stated that they are involved in at least one sport or extracurricular activity, this demonstrates a strong correlation between feeling like you belong at OWU and being involved in different activities. 

OWU faculty member John Krygier believes students need to stay active, “Go have fun, get involved, and meet new people!”

Participating in an extracurricular activity or a sport seems to greatly influence the ability to feel like you belong at Ohio Wesleyan University. It is a way to meet people with similar interests as you, and overall helpful with getting a fun college experience.

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