Extracurricular involvement vital to success

By Joey Sykes|Student Columnist

The phrase “get involved” has probably been thrown your way by parents and relatives before you headed off to college, however long ago that may be. It’s starting to become somewhat of a cliché now, but heeding those words can have a tremendous impact on someone’s future.Before getting into details, what does “getting involved” really mean? To understand, you’ll have to assess why you’re going to college in the first place. The conventional answer would be that you’re trying to find your niche in this world, whatever it may be. That idea stems from going to the classroom to earn good grades and eventually  obtain a degree. However, there’s so much more to what college has to offer than just that.

Getting involved outside the classroom could mean getting involved in a club or a sport, which is the first thing that may come to mind when you hear those words.For example, in my time with The Duquesne Duke, I learned how to write articles for the sports section in my pursuit of one day becoming a sportswriter. I also worked with a variety of editors that have helped shape my work into the best quality pieces they can be. From there, my work with The Duke has helped lead me to new experiences like obtaining my current internship.By getting involved in activities like The Duke, a student can make connections that  lead to bigger and better things. Take this following story for example.Eric Hoover, a writer for the Washington D.C.-based newspaper/website The Chronicle of Higher Education, wrote an article that talks about what a degree really “gets” a graduate.

To make his point, he told the story of a man named Evan Bloom. Bloom went to college and graduated with a degree in architecture and found a solid job right after in construction management. It was a nice success story, but he would eventually quit, due to the lack of excitement it brought him. He would go on to find success and happiness in the restaurant business.This seems like it would have been a rough transition for anyone else, but it was exactly the opposite for Bloom. While at school, he learned to make connections. He found someone who helped get him an internship with his first job as well as a man who helped him become co-owner of a successful catering business.While he didn’t go to college for what his true calling was, he believed his out-of-classroom work helped him achieve his dream.“My classes were great, but it was really everything else I was doing that mattered the most,” Bloom said. “It was tapping into this whole sphere of influences.”

With all that said, getting involved in college isn’t strictly tied to making sure you get a good job out of school. Minor lessons that people tend to overlook can be gained by getting involved in different social situations as well. Charlotte Observer reporter Shina Neo interviewed a physics professor named C.W. Stacks who teaches at a college prep school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Stacks states how important getting involved on campus helps a person breakout of their bubble. “It is important for students to engage with other people outside the classroom because it improves their communication skills,” Stacks said. “They learn how to interact with people, recognize the needs of others and find opportunities to get involved.”

Before I came to college, I was a timid person. I was worried about the negative things that could possibly come from a certain situation, no matter how unlikely they were to happen. In the early part of my college career, I got myself involved in a few social situations where I really had to force myself to take a deep breath and speak up. I learned to do it without thinking about what the end result would be and I gained a sense of confidence I never knew I had.

Getting involved socially and professionally are very important towards a student’s success in school. Doing well academically is obviously of utmost importance, however, if you don’t shrug off the outside details, you can find yourself in some pretty interesting places thanks to getting involved. So whether you’re a freshman, an upperclassman or a professor, you can accomplish great things by getting to know your surroundings outside the classroom.

Joey Sykes is a junior Journalism major and can be reached at sykes1j@duq.edu

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