Listen to a conversation between a student and a counselor at the University Counseling Center.
Hi, thanks for seeing me on such short notice.
No problem. How can I help?
Well, I think I might have made a mistake coming to the school.
What makes you say that?
I'm a little overwhelmed by the size of this place.
I come from a small town.
There were only 75 of us in my high school graduating class.
Everyone knew everyone, we all grew up together.
So it's a bit of a culture shock for you, being one of 15,000 students on a big campus in an unfamiliar city?
That's an understatement.
I just can't get comfortable in class or in the dorms. You know, socially.
Um... well, let's start with the academics. Tell me about your classes.
I'm taking mostly introductory courses and some are taught in these huge lecture halls.
And you are having trouble in keeping pace with the material?
No, in fact I got an A on my first economics paper.
It's just that, it's so impersonal, I'm not used to it.
Are all your classes impersonal?
No, it's just that, for example, in sociology yesterday, the professor asked a question, so I raised my hand, several of us raised our hands.
And I kept my hand up because I did the reading and knew the answer.
But the professor just answered his own question and continued with the lecture.
Well, in a big room it's possible he didn't notice you.
Maybe he was trying to save time.
In either case I wouldn't take it personally.
I suppose. But I just don't know how to, you know, distinguish myself.
Why not stop by his office during office hours?
That wouldn't seem right. You know, taking time from other students who need help?
Don't say that. That's what office hours are for.
There is no reason you couldn't pop in to say hi and to make yourself known.
If you are learning a lot in class, let the professor know.
Wouldn't you appreciate positive feedback if you were a professor?
You are right. That's a good idea.
OK, er... let's turn to your social life. How's it going in the dorms?
I don't have much in common with my roommate or anyone else I've met so far.
Everyone's into sports and I'm more artsy, you know, into music. I play the cello.
[genuinely curious] Hah, have you been playing long?
Since age ten. It's a big part of my life.
At home I was the youngest member of our community orchestra.
[excitedly] You are not going to believe this.
There is a string quartet on campus—all students.
And it so happened that the cellist graduated last year.
They've been searching high and low for a replacement, someone with experience.
Would you be interested in auditioning?
Absolutely. I wanted to get my academic work settled before pursuing my music here.
But I think this would be a good thing for me.
I guess if I really want to fit in here I should find people who love music as much as I do.
[extreme gratitude] Thank you.