Not Nearly There: Get involved outside of the classroom

Sean Bassinger

Here we are at the beginning of winter term.

Expectation: If you’re a freshman, you may feel like you’ve got this college thing down now that you’ve been tossed into the fray. Surely you’ve mastered the university routine if you’re a sophomore or junior. You’ve been here for years, after all.

Reality: I’m a senior and I’m still learning crap I wish I knew years ago.

Being as this is a university

So here’s the scoop: I’m a fifth-year senior that’s out of here come June.

I’m a transfer student. I’ve been involved in organizations outside of class (see: Orange Media Network). I’ve had some drinks. I’ve aced and failed some classes. Things could get a lot worse from the point you’re at, but holy crap will they also get better.

For now I want to touch on the extracurricular environment. I could easily say that my college experience would have still been enjoyable without my time getting involved with other activities at The Barometer and Orange Media Network.

Still, it wouldn’t have been as rich and unforgettable.

Some students are just fine with going to class, earning their grades and graduating. In some cases, this might even be all they have time for.

I would advise against this if possible.

Since my time working at The Commuter, Linn-Benton Community College’s student newspaper, and here at The Daily Barometer, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a variety of individuals on behalf of clubs, established student governments and other organizations related to programs throughout campus.

I’ve talked to students passionate about accessibility needs on campus, students who fight for and care where our student fee-funded dollars go and students who, without any fear or second thoughts, stood with pride to proclaim “I, too, am OSU” when an unfortunate bout of racist graffiti aimed to weaken campus spirits.

These are just a few examples of other students who choose to immerse themselves in the community out of the classroom.

Extracurricular activities may offer students outlets to expand their interpersonal communication skills, writing skills, diversity perspectives and other developments essential for their lives and careers after college.

Even if it seems “too fun to be useful,” you would be surprised how far a little creativity could go in the professional world.

In addition, the world needs more diverse, innovative and entrepreneurial-minded critical thinkers now more than ever.

I once heard Pat Reser, chair of OSU’s board of trustees, refer to herself as a “lifelong learner” when I interviewed her for a profile in 2014. In that regard, I would say we’re all students of life in a class that never ceases to exist.

If we’re not learning, we’re not progressing. Out-of-class experiences allow us to see how we can use our acquired skills and unique perspectives to continue to learn throughout life and in our own communities.

In this sense, we all have the potential to become extraordinary lifelong learners ourselves. Get out, get involved and talk to your academic adviser about additional ways to improve your experience at OSU. In addition, talk to your instructors— they may have information on additional campus activities that they partake in themselves.

So in that sense, the title of this column, “Not nearly finished,” will speak on ways to get the most out of our college experiences even after we’re done.

The point of this series, which will run until enough people tell me “we hate these things, they’re stupid like you” (I can take the punch), will be less about listing an absolute “right” answer in regards to improving college experiences but more about academic perspectives I’ve encountered in college.

I especially would love to hear from other upper division students — juniors, seniors and graduate students — on their own experiences at Oregon State University or other colleges they may have transferred from.

If you have a topic you believe should be covered, please reach out to me: [email protected].

Meanwhile, enjoy … well, the rain, because it’s Oregon.

Like our college experience may or may not teach us, it’s time to be realistic here.

The opinions expressed in Bassinger’s column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer staff.

[email protected]

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