While it’s easy to get lost in a sea of textbooks and research papers when you’re working towards your liberal arts degree, to think that academia is the be-all and end-all to learning while you’re attending college is not only a mistake, it’s untrue. One of the best things you can do to help yourself grow and develop, in every sense of the word, is to get involved in the community. Whether it’s volunteering at the local animal shelter, helping to tutor underprivileged kids, or simply helping to run a booth at the local craft fair, getting involved in a community – no matter how small – lets you build skills that textbooks can’t teach you.
Compassion, Teamwork and Understanding
One of the most important things that getting involved with your community can teach you is the ability to empathize with people – to step into their shoes, and to understand how life could be for them. While it seems like something that’s pretty cookie-cutter and obvious, it’s astounding how many people fail to really care about being compassionate or empathetic towards others. Luckily, an alternative liberal arts college is the perfect place to meet a variety of interesting people!
Working together with others helps you build skills like working together as a team, learning to compromise for the benefit of the overarching goal, and how to react when being challenged by someone who doesn’t share your ideas or ideals. In life, you’ll constantly be interacting with people whose opinions differ from yours and being able to understand them and work together towards a solution is absolutely essential. By joining clubs or societies you otherwise wouldn’t, or helping to tutor students or adults who may be living completely different lives than you, you’ll be exposed to a wealth of different attitudes and personalities, and learn how to understand and empathize, no matter what the situation.
Responsibility – What’s That?
While it’s true that college can whip you into shape pretty fast if you’re used to slacking off, when it comes to the responsibilities you’ll have after graduation, it’s not necessarily comparable. When you’re out in the real world, you’ll have obligations like paying bills on time, negotiating contracts, meeting deadlines, providing for people, and many more things. Joining a club or a society in a leadership role, or even a minor role, is a great way to learn how to juggle these things.
Whether it’s accepting a position as the treasurer for the Model UN club or just being in charge of getting everyone together for the weekly meeting of the Spanish club, the more responsibility you ease yourself into now, the better prepared you’ll be when a lot more is expected of you in the future. Not only does getting involved help you gain valuable resume fodder and meet and network with a plethora of interesting and diverse people from all walks of life, but it’s essential in helping you along the path to becoming the person you want to be.
So maybe it’s time to put down that textbook for a while, get outside and start applying your creativity and passion in different ways. Despite what people may tell you, there’s more to life than what a book can tell you, and even a degree at a top liberal arts college in Chicago isn’t complete without some community interaction.