Turning campus fun into real-world skills

Turning+campus+fun+into+real-world+skills

By Logan Weeter

I won’t pretend to be a seasoned veteran of this whole college thing, but in my time at school I’ve put myself out there and met a fair number of people. Here at the University, there’s no shortage of diverse people with diverse lifestyles, and I’ve met a plethora of individuals with interesting combinations of majors and hobbies.

I always get a little sad, however, when I meet someone and the conversation goes like this:

“So what do you do outside of class?”

“Oh, I study, watch TV shows, play vid-“

“No, I mean your extracurriculars; your RSOs.”

“Oh. Nothing.”

“…Nothing?”

It takes a bit of time to register. There are over 1,400 registered student organizations on campus, yet there are people who aren’t a part of a single one of them. Such a lack of involvement shows that some students aren’t using the University and its resources to its full potential.

College is a place of personal growth and development for the real world, and a major part of that development is a social aspect.

I’m obviously not against focusing on an education. Most students do, in fact, go to college to learn. Were everyone to graduate and enter the work force with no academic growth since high school, the nation would be populated with absolute disasters wielding meaningless bachelor’s degrees.

I am, however, saying that you shouldn’t go to college exclusively to learn in class.

A social psychology article from the University of Washington says that, “We live and work in a world where groups of people solve problems — especially in the areas of science, math and engineering. Therefore, these people coming out of college will have trouble succeeding because they do not have the higher social skills required in this situation. Yes, you learn academically in college, however, the social skills learned are more important.”

The real world after college is scary and unknown for a lot of us right now, but one thing I definitively know about it is that it isn’t solitary. No matter what major you’re pursuing right now, you will have to work with people to some degree, and involvement with people and extracurriculars on campus will fortify your skills for that inevitable social interaction.

If we graduate this university without developing those basic skills required to function as a 21st century human being, our college experience was, to a certain degree, wasted — pun intended.

Nick Eckel, sophomore in Media, says that creating genuine human connections is crucial to your success in college, especially as an incoming student.

“When you come to a school with as many people as UIUC (has), it’s really important to establish friendships and connections and have that network on campus,” Eckel said. “Everyone has to go through a period where they are new to campus, and having those friends that are going through the same thing makes it easier to adjust to this place.”

And we have no excuse not to establish those friendships and connections.

Being a campus as large as ours is, having the amount of RSOs that we do and being the nation’s No. 1 party school means that, for better or worse, there are absolutely no shortages of opportunities to go out there and immerse yourself in campus culture.

Focus on studies, sure, but all work and no play will, in fact, make Johnny a dull boy. It could also strain Johnny’s eyes, create distance between him and his friends and eventually put a load of stress on him that could affect him in a medical way — and now Johnny’s sick and potentially lonely.

We all know about things like stomach pain and optical injuries that can result from too much work and screen time — acknowledge and evade these risks when you can.

Right alongside the academic aspect, college is about making connections, meeting new people and learning those oh-so-important skills that simply can’t be taught in a classroom.

Your physics professor will not be able to teach you how to make people like you, or how to expertly weave an impressive story to make yourself look like a qualified, but not conceded potential employee. A physics-oriented RSO, however, might.

This upcoming weekend is Halloween. Take advantage of it. Go to a party you’ve been invited to, or if you haven’t been invited to a party, go somewhere or do something with a friend. You deserve to have fun after all the stress a collegiate academic schedule can put on you.

Take the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and develop yourself in a way that you can’t with a professor’s assignments. Don’t let the weekend go to waste in front of a computer screen.

Logan is a freshman in LAS.

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