Students wait in line at the University of Georgia bookstore on Aug. 16.

One day near the beginning of each semester, Tate Plaza fills with seemingly-endless rows of tables that house tri-fold boards, laptops and sign-up sheets. Cheerful students stand in front of their tables, giving out handouts and candy and telling anyone who will listen about their organization.

It can be extremely overwhelming for University of Georgia students who aren’t expecting it. Here are a few tips on how to keep your cool when the involvement fair rolls around on Aug. 23. 

1. Take it slow

If you have the time, don’t try to explore the whole fair in one giant walk-through. Over 300 of the more-than-800 student organizations at UGA will have tables at this year’s involvement fair. That’s a lot of ground to cover if you’re trying to do it as quickly as possible. Look at some tables you’re interested in and come back for the rest after taking a break. It’s never worth your sanity to get as many flyers as possible at once.

2. Don’t judge a book by its cover

Listen, we’re all college kids and some of us just don’t have the time to make a tri-fold board look as pretty as it can possibly be. Don’t just glance at a table before moving on — really take a look at what the club or organization is offering. If it interests you, you have nothing to lose by spending 30 more seconds at the table. You never know — you don’t want appearances to make you miss out on something you could’ve loved.

3. Do some research

As previously mentioned, over 300 student organizations will be represented at the involvement fair. If you’re the eager type, you can look on UGA’s Involvement Network to see a list of the 800+ registered student organizations. If not, that’s OK too — look up clubs as you walk around the fair to get a better idea of what they’re like. It’s pretty likely that almost every group will have a social media page of some sort, so you can do a little looking and see if anything strikes your fancy. 

4. Ask questions

The students at the involvement fair signed up to be there for their organization for a reason! If you’re unclear or unsure about an organization or have reservations about it, ask the person who’s tabling for their honest opinion. Why do they like their club? What’s their favorite part about it? When did they join? How much of a time commitment is it? Don’t be afraid to chat a little, because the more you find out, the more you’ll know if the organization is a good fit for you. 

5. When in doubt, try it out

In all honesty, it almost never hurts to go to an introductory meeting near the beginning of a semester. The best way to find out if you’ll get along with people is to interact with them one-on-one. Try to picture yourself in this group — could you see yourself in it? If not, at least you went to a meeting and gave it a shot. Getting involved is so important on a large campus like UGA, so putting yourself out there and trying new things is often your best bet at finding your place.

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