Sir Isaac Newton’s 1687 compiled works Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy).An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. This, as Newton saw in the scientific world can be true in regards to life. The same is true for the life of a college student. Energy breeds’ energy and they become more productive. When students do just enough to get a passing grade and come to campus just for their classes they miss out on the true college experience. Getting involved with fellow students in activities such as Associated Student Government (ASG), Service Learning and Interclub Council, ELI, LGBTQIA+, Chess Clubs, and student news and media the list is numerous. Getting involved enriches the college experience by building relationships that lift us up intellectually and lays the foundation that keeps us encouraged when the work of being a college student gets tough. When students get involved, the benefits can be a game changer. Students gain valuable expertise to bring to their future careers leadership and communication skills.
The fact in the real job market is that employers do not have the time to train new employees. There is a good chance a person armed with a college degree may be passed up for the uneducated candidate who already knows how to jump in and get the job done. It is sad, but true and the fact is companies will probably save some money because they can pay Joe handyman less than the college grad with a bachelor’s degree in hand. It has left many disillusioned wondering why they had spent all that time and money on an education when they could have gone to a trade school. They figure, “I could have been at this years ago, but now I’m just getting started and being passed up because I am overqualified.” Their education has not taught them much about the job they desire.
Often it is overlooked that many student activities are in essence, on the job training. In collegiate activities you work alongside faculty members and act as a sieve gaining experience through osmosis. Often times you learn from an advisor not because he or she is teaching you but because the two of you are working together. A child learns to speak, walk and even learns behavior from watching their parents and older siblings. Working with faculty advisors is much the same. You learn the bureaucracy of administration and understand the inner workings of the college system far better than other students who come to class and maybe stop into the Student Center for a slice of pizza. If you work in student media like a student newspaper or college radio, you actually gain real world training using the same technology that professionals use. You gain the knowledge to step into a radio broadcast room, a newsroom bullpen, or the floor of a city council meeting and can perform the duties that professionals do on an everyday basis.
In many business ventures communication is the one thing that causes the majority of trouble in anyone’s professional or personal life. It is the reason that most things do not get done right “When someone drops the ball it is usually because they didn’t know it was being thrown,” said Bryon Andersen House Manager of the theatre here on campus. Student Activities teaches the need for open communication in the workplace. I have heard others say and have said myself, “I thought that Dick or Jane had that handled.” It is as easy as communication. I know. It has been driven in my head during my time in the newsroom. There is no place for the lone wolf. There must be a team effort, the left hand must know what the right hand is doing.
Leadership is a very big part of the training in Student Activities. You learn being a leader is not about being the head honcho or having the final say. It is about putting in long hours and nurturing your team. It’s about locating others strengths, weaknesses, utilizing them where they are strong and being sensitive to when they are struggling. Good Leaders know after the blame gets thrown around the room the one to have the last word is you, admitting that you are to blame when the train goes off the tracks. This is the most important thing about being in a leadership position: admitting that you are wrong. To say you need your team more than they need you. That is what earns their trust and respect.
Making Student Activities part of your college experience can provide these skillsets to you. Spartans, this could be the key to a better future. You could consider it a gift to your future self.