As a high school student on the cusp of my university education, the fact that Western was notorious for its burgeoning population was not of particular concern to me. In fact, Western’s large population was one of its selling points.
In my mind, university is a transition from the adolescent world of high school to the adult “real world” and so it should give you a bigger piece of the multi-cultural pie, so to speak. Over the course of my three years at Western, I have met a wide range of interesting, ambitious and unique people, an opportunity I don’t think I would have had at a smaller school.
Thanks to Hollywood, before I came to Western most of my exposure to university was of crowded lecture halls and sprawling campuses with beautiful, ivy-covered buildings — so life at Western was nothing out of the ordinary.
Walking into my first university class to a room full of hundreds of students was a bit daunting, but I thought it just came with the territory. I have often heard that students from smaller universities are turned off of larger environments for fear of becoming a “number.” In my experience, I feel that this fear is unfounded.
For most of us, high school was a more intimate experience. Coming from a smaller city I knew most of the faces at my high school and had close relationships with many teachers, but this does not mean that once I crossed through the Western gates I became lost in the crowd.
Like in any environment, if you want to know and be known, you have to work at it. Visit your profs, join a club, run for a council position within your faculty, join a sports team — with so many opportunities it is hard to be just a number.
Sure, we use our student numbers to identify ourselves on campus, but this is a process that is always going to be true in the larger world. We use our social insurance numbers to identify ourselves within the working world, so why should university be any different?
While Western may be a larger academic environment than others, it is still accessible because there is an abundance of smaller environments within. We have our residences, our faculties, our classes, our clubs, our sports, and the list continues.
Admittedly, I do not know every student and staff member at Western. This may be an impossible feat to accomplish, but this is not something that concerns me. Even though I am known to the registrar as a number, I know where I stand with the rest of the Western world.
Having said all of this, sometimes when you want to just curl up with a good book in a corner of Weldon, it’s nice to be anonymous.