Full disclosure: The RC is spectacular. Two years of guaranteed housing* in the nicest dorm on campus, class just a couple flights downstairs, gourmet dining hall lunch with your instructors, and an in-house theatre, library, ceramics room, music and dance studio, garden, darkroom, and art gallery. With all that, the question on many prospective students’ minds is...do RCers ever leave? I’m here to tell you that yes, we do, and it’s well worth it. Here are my tips on how to feel connected to campus and get involved outside of the RC.
Everyone knows about the benefits of exercise, but it’s super important to be active in college to relieve stress and promote wellness. Even if sports aren’t exactly your idea of a great time, Michigan offers lots of ways to get moving. For example, U-M has three gyms, the closest of which to East Quad are the Intramural Sports Building (IMSB) and the Central Campus Recreation Building (CCRB). Each of the gyms offers group exercise classes, so why not take your roommate with you for a sweat sesh?
If you want something a little more thrilling than weights and cardio, check out the Rec Sports Expo at the beginning of the year to find a club or intramural sports team you’d be interested in joining! Many teams don’t require any experience and still offer competitive opportunities for beginning athletes. I am part of the synchronized skating team here at U-M, and nothing is more thrilling than hearing fans sing “The Victors” before we compete. (Did you know? Synchro was invented in Ann Arbor in 1956!) Plus, you can make great connections and friendships with upperclassmen! They’re not as scary as they seem, promise.
Help Out in the Community
A great way to feel like a part of the campus community is to get involved with social service in the community. Kitty-corner to East Quad is the Ginsberg Center, U-M’s center for civic engagement and a place where I have been proud to work since my freshman year. Its aim is to support students, faculty, and staff in partnering with organizations around Southeast Michigan to engage in community service.
How can you get involved? The Ginsberg Center offers jobs working with underprivileged groups, such as my position as an elementary school reading tutor. Several student orgs are also based in the Ginz, which is a great way to have fun and meet people with similar interests. And every year, the Ginsberg Center’s main event is Detroit Partnership Day, a campus-wide program in which hundreds of students visit Detroit for the day to assist in neighborhood beautification projects and learn about the city nearly 700,000 call home. Be sure to check out the RC’s civic engagement programs, too, such as PALMA, Telling-It, SLIP, and PCAP.
Explore Campus and Ann Arbor
One of the major benefits of the RC is that everything you need is under one roof, but even more exciting are all the attractions Ann Arbor has to offer. Especially in the beginning of the year while the weather is nice and classes aren’t too busy, take some friends and discover why Wolverines call Ann Arbor home! If you have extra money to spend, ask some RC faculty or upperclassmen what their favorite restaurants are or buy a special gift from a boutique for loved ones back home.
And here are some ideas that don’t require any money:
- The UMMA, Kelsey Museum, and Museum of Natural History are all free to visit, plus they often host special events for students. Check it out!
- Some businesses and homes have painted “fairy doors” on their exteriors. Take a walk with a friend and see who can spot more!
- Visit North Campus! Just take a Blue Bus going north and explore. The Duderstadt Library is one of my favorite places to study, and I encourage you to figure out why! (No offense, Benzinger)
- Just past Hill Campus is the Nichols Arboretum, or the Arb for short. Bring your hiking shoes and a picnic blanket for an afternoon among the trees. (Pro tip: Ask your RA if your hall can take a trip to see Shakespeare in the Arb in the week before school starts!)
- Go window shopping on Liberty Street or in the Nickels Arcade! If you look carefully, you might find a good deal.
- Many varsity sports games are cheap or free for students to attend. Wear maize and go blue!
- Be on the lookout for Passports to the Arts. These weekly tickets get students into performances for free. Support your fellow artists!
Just Go Blue!
The RC can be your home and hub for a lot of things, but RC classes can’t fulfill all of your LSA requirements. This means you’ll have to take at least some of your courses outside of the RC. The good news is, every LSA instructor I’ve ever had has been outstanding, and no course I’ve ever taken has been “just” a requirement. While RC staff and faculty are in a league of their own, U-M takes great care to hire professionals who care about you and your learning. Plus, LSA students are allowed to take classes in other colleges, so many RC students find themselves studying at Ross, the School of Education, or the School of Social Work, all of which are a stone’s throw from East Quad. And check out summer programs while you’re at it! Study abroad is still touch-and-go with the pandemic, but the Biological Station and Camp Davis are great ways to engage with the campus community outside of the regular academic year.
Whatever the course is and in whichever school or department you take it, U-M will deliver. I’ll always hold RC courses dear, but I’ve had a lot of great experiences, made a lot of friends, and learned many new and amazing things in non-RC classes. And perhaps that’s the beauty of it! The strengths of each class help you better appreciate the differing strengths of others.
The RC provides an academic experience that nowhere else can replicate, which keeps many RC alums coming back years after graduation. But above all, RCers are Wolverines, and that connects us. No matter where you come from or what you study, you can find people and activities you enjoy everywhere you look. The RC is only the start of a world-class college experience.
*Two years of guaranteed housing mentioned by Cielle refer to the RC's typical two-year residential requirement within East Quad. There have been changes to this requirement in response to COVID-19 which may also impact a guarantee of a residential placement in East Quad. Please refer to www.housing.umich.edu for updates and contact RC Admissions & Recruitment at firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions.
About the author
Cielle Waters-Umfleet is a third-year student in the RC (Umich '22) studying Creative Writing & Literature with a minor in Spanish, and she is beginning to learn German through LSA. Through U-M, she works as a literacy tutor for elementary students in Southeast Michigan and as a community center assistant for dorms on Central Campus. She is the editor-in-chief of What The F feminist magazine, a chair for CAPS In Action, a member of the U-M Synchronized Skating Team, and an RC Ambassador. As an incoming freshman, she was drawn to the RC because it offered all of the benefits and resources she was looking for under one roof.