Many college students have the tendency to never branch out beyond the limits of their college campus all four years that they are in college. We think that the community revolves around our college, so why in the world would we ever need to leave when everything we need is right on campus?

In my opinion, this is such a big mistake, and I think that it can make or break a student's college experience.

Now, you might be thinking, "I live off campus/ I am moving off campus next year, so of course, this article isn't talking about me. Not true. If you're living off campus, chances are, you are living with other college students from the same college, and you'll simply be commuting to and from campus every day. So, this is not the kind of branching out I'm talking about.

College campuses can sometimes tend to be a sort of "bubble." The college can provide for pretty much any need a student might have, and there is a multitude of organizations to become involved in right on campus. Many students become so wrapped up in college life that we forget we are living in a place where real people and families also live, and it isn't all about the college students in the area.

By breaking out of the college campus "bubble," I mean that the real people living in the surrounding areas are worth meeting. There are great organizations (not affiliated with a college) that are worth learning about, getting involved in, and supporting. There are events that are worth attending. There are local businesses that you should patronize - and no, going off campus to get Chipotle doesn't count. These people and places want to know students like you, and many of them would probably appreciate what you have to offer.

Chances are, there are organizations right on your campus that allow students to become involved in the community and branch out beyond the college life.

Of course, it is very important to meet fellow college students and get involved on your own campus, as meeting new people and making memories with them is one of the best parts of college. However, if you never explore anything outside of your college campus, you will be missing out on so much that your community has to offer.

It took me a while to realize this myself, but I am so glad I did, because I've learned that Harrisonburg does not revolve solely around JMU, and there is so much more here than I ever would've realized if I hadn't reached out to look for it.

So, I want to challenge you. Do some research, find out about local businesses that you want to visit, and reach out to organizations that support causes that are important to you. I can almost guarantee that if you do, you'll be refreshed by the time that you spend away from campus, and you'll develop amazing friendships with individuals that you never would've thought you'd meet during your time at college. You may even appreciate where you are more than ever before.