Foreword: I’m a “Junior – and – a – half” (graduating in December) at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. I’m often discouraged and even amazed at the levels of student engagement and excitement among not only students at my school, but all colleges. I hope the following post does not offend anyone, as it is somewhat strongly worded. The topic is simply one that I am very passionate about.
As a college student, I recognized that myself and my classmates are a part of something bigger. We are not always going to be students and we will not always be entry-level professionals. Rather, we are the future. We are the next generation – one that will be responsible for continuing growth and development of our community, our country and our world.
That is a scary thought to me because I know what the typical college student looks like and what their abilities are.
I’m not talking about grades. College courses are difficult and it’s perfectly fine to not be a 4.0 student. What concerns me, though, is the level of student engagement that I see across college campuses.
I love college because I literally view my campus as my playground. There are opportunities for me everywhere. Between the clubs (Brockport PR Club) and honor societies (Lambda Pi Eta) that I am a member of, room for independent studies, and the support from faculty and administration to find internships with organizations in the area I am able to design and craft my own undergraduate education specifically tailored to my interests and skill set. Nobody will ever go to school and have the same education as I have had – how cool is that?
College is my playground because I can join clubs and decide what I really want to do. Then, I can make it happen with my peers. Faculty doesn’t have the ideas, nor do professors guide me through the process. In short – I really can do anything I put my mind to.
But college isn’t a day-care program. Nobody has ever offered me the opportunities I have had. Instead, the responsibility to have an outstanding college experience is on each and every individual. And quite frankly, not enough people take that responsibility seriously enough.
If you’re a student, what do you say when someone asks you, “what are you doing at school this semester?” If your first instinct is to tell them what courses you are taking, you’re doing college wrong. No, really, trust me – you were mis-informed somewhere along the way. Classes are important, sure, but aren’t you bored? I’m willing to bet your grades aren’t spectacular, either… because you aren’t engaged.
How many students are studying the same thing as you at your school? Or even in this country? What makes you any better than the rest of them? It certainly is not the .1 difference in GPA that you boast on your resume that will get you hired after graduation. Instead of looking at your campus like a classroom, look at it like a playground. What are you doing that sets you apart? What are you doing that you truly enjoy that will be the difference between you and everyone else? Ask yourself each and every day, “why would someone hire me?”
Until yesterday, I was afraid to graduate from college because I thought I would miss having the ability to look at my life like a playground and having the ability to really experience and do all of the things that I wanted.
Then, I met David Meerman Scott.
If I look at my college campus as my playground, this guy looks at the globe as his. Just like calling me a student doesn’t capture everything that I do at school, calling Scott an author doesn’t capture everything that he does in his career. He’s an author, sure. But he is also an internationally recognized speaker (soon to have spoken on all 7 continents), a blogger, a marketing strategist, and even an actor among other things.
David Meerman Scott is in the position to pick and choose the experiences that he has and the people that he works with each and every day, just like I can. The difference is that he does it on a world-wide scale.
Everyone needs to ask themselves where they want to go in their lives. If you think about your destination in this world as a cubicle on the third floor of an office down the street, working for a company you don’t love, performing a task that essentially anyone could do – please continue skipping half of your classes, getting mediocre grades, and not doing anything that sets you apart from anyone else.
But – if you have ambition and aspiration, if you want to look at the country or the world as your personal playground – the time to start that journey is right now. Join clubs, plan events, meet professionals, learn new things, start a blog, read books, teach others, and never stop.
If it sounds like more fun than work to you, then you have found your playground.