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This item originally appeared in the January 13, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

Back in September, we were informed that Tech has one of the most improved graduation rates (55 percent) in the country.

Even so, why do 45 percent of students who enter Tech's halls end up leaving?

Many situations I've seen in my short time here have boiled down to this -- homesickness, boredom and a case of loneliness.

Even sadder than that is the fact that many of those people could have prevented their fates if they had simply explored what Tech has to offer.

Tech is a different kind of school in a different kind of town, true. There aren't 30,000 people on campus and places to go and things to do aren't abundant in Ruston.

Still, I am frequently amazed at how often those facts convince people to forgo school involvement, stay holed up in their dorm rooms and inevitably, transfer to other schools.

Friends and activities can be found all over the place -- but you have to look for them.

I found my niche in a probable setting -- a Christian fellowship on campus called Chi Alpha. My first weeks at Tech in September 2003 were spent timidly getting to know everyone in the organization and making my shy self leave the dorm to go places with people I had never known before.

With my hometown 5 hours away and only a handful of people I graduated high school with attending Tech, there was no other option, in my mind, but to get plugged in somewhere.

What I found was a wonderful group of people who made me feel welcome, developed relationships with me and made going home last summer an extremely difficult thing to do.

This is why it troubles me so much to see students transfer to other colleges without even trying to make a new life with new people at this school.

Tech is overflowing with student organizations that meet specific interests and appeal to certain people.

Through intramural sports, all the campus ministries, the campus radio station and more, there should be a spark for any type of person.

We have organizations dedicated to the outdoors, Tai Chi, water skiing, chess and bodybuilding.

Lovers of Japanese animation can meet fellow fans in the Anime Ichiban club, and there's even a Block and Bridle club if you have an interest in farm animals.

From the obvious to not-so-obvious, Tech has most every angle covered.

Through these clubs, friendships are made and suddenly, you have people to hang out with in the lovely but action-less town of Ruston.

While there is still a lack of some benefits other universities boast, and Chili's is only the best thing to hit Ruston since Wal-Mart, it is our choice whether or not we will take advantage of what we have.

The only other option is to sit around and wish we were anywhere but here.

It worked for me -- I have a great love for this school already because of the memories I've made with awesome people I never would have met otherwise.

Whether you're a freshman or sixth-year senior, it's not too late if you still haven't found your place. Your road to lifelong friendships and memories at Tech may be on a flyer on that bulletin board just around the corner.

Sarah Broach is a sophomore journalism major from Luling and serves as a news editor for The Tech Talk. E-mail comments to slb045@latech.edu.


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