Desired lessons learned out of the classroom, valuable
May 4, 2007
I'm going to write a column about me. A lousy and selfish topic, I know, but as readers of the Student Voice, it's nothing you're not used to. I'm not used to this kind of writing, but here it goes.
I've done a lot of things wrong in my time in college. I didn't take my classes as seriously as I could have, I over-involved myself with far too many clubs and organizations, I gave up on people I loved deeply and I didn't have as much fun as I could have. I only truly regret one of these (see if you can guess which), but they all boil down to one thing: priorities. We get too involved and forget what college should be.
Most people say they learned more in college outside of class than they did inside, but I would say that not too many of us are going out of our way to prove that cliché wrong. Students, me included, tend to go about academia in the same way most underpaid Americans do their jobs, with the attitude of making it through instead of making it happen.
Though I should have invested myself more in academics, the only thing I ever did in college that really made a difference was being a resident assistant (RA). I don't mean Residence Life. They don't have a clue about what really makes a difference to students. That end of it is a business, business run by intelligent, fickle, goal-oriented and out-of-touch people. The problem is that as the business they have become, they are forced to sell politically correct, Grated programs and activities to adults who are fresh out of high school and already sick of all the flakiness and bullshit. You have to learn that nobody trusts someone who doesn't swear a little, and is "just, like, really super-excited to be there." Get real.
That being said, I really loved the job. I was an RA for 2 and a half years, and I'm still friends with most of my residents. I treasure every community I have ever been a part of, and if I ever get married, my groomsmen will probably all be past residents and people I have met through being an RA. Thanks for all the good times.
I think that's what many people miss when they join clubs and organizations. They don't concentrate on having fun, and being real with people, and building relationships. They exist for the purpose of being a sub-note on our résumés. If you spend more time in budget meetings than you do building real relationships, your time is wasted. Don't let your activities speak for you. Don't have people wondering where you are all the time while you sit in some waste-of-time "team building" meeting or diversity conference.
I think that's what will really catch up with you, being too involved with all of the business-like clubs across campus. Academics are necessary, the rest is not. We're all spreading ourselves thin rather than concentrating on class and friendships. Honestly, until I came to college, I lived a life free of regret. Now, at the end of my days here, when I lay down at night, my mind is consumed by thoughts of loved ones who I just lost touch with. I was too busy for them. When they would ask for dinner, I had a staff meeting. When they needed to talk, I was with one of my organizations. Too often, we ask ourselves whether our loved ones or our résumé is more important, and despite everything, we come up with the wrong answer.
Priorities. We're all here deciding what we want to do with our lives, as though our future jobs were going to define our legacy, but the thing that will survive longer, and more memorably throughout the years ahead, are the experiences with people and friends, building friendships that don't depend on circumstance, and maintaining through hustle and bustle, through good times and bad, and through sickness and health, all of the ties that will keep us nose deep in fond memories and good times for the rest of our lives.
Kris Evans is a student at UW-River Falls.