Make this year the best ever

Aug 21st, 2009 | By | Category: Columns, Opinions

MSU student Brett Gerlt walks into the Plaster Student Union a few days before the start of classes.by Nate Bassett

Welcome back to school.

You’re probably excited about finding a routine, whether it’s one that you had before, or a whole new one.

Numerous clubs, organizations, and sporting groups would love for you to join their ranks.

After all, college is about more than just getting a degree, it’s an experience.

So, as you’re gearing up to face all of this, and learning what to expect, let me try and give you a different perspective on it.

Let’s face it, most of us are here for one reason: the carrot at the end of the stick. You know, that little piece of paper with your name, followed by initials such as B.A., B.S., M.B.A., or M.R.S. You’ll need one of those initials to get in the door at just about any good job, and those initials can add some extra zeros to that paycheck (especially for the ladies when you get an M.R.S. Dr.)

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who get a full ride scholarship, the debt you’ll incur from even attending a state school such as Missouri State will stick with you for a long, long time.

The hope is that the investment you put into your education will pay off in a way that helps you move up the social ladder, giving you opportunities that are impossible without a degree.

But there’s a flip side. Statistics say several things are working against you. First of all, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening.

Second, studies also show that social mobility has slowed, even halted, in the United States.

And, most troubling, 30 percent of freshmen will either drop or flunk out by the end of the year, and half of the rest of you will never graduate. Few will actually return to college.

So while you’re here, make the most of it. And this doesn’t mean being a total bookworm, although that will help you graduate.

It means doing things that actually matter and help you explore your passions and interests.

After all, you’re paying for it. Be grateful you have the chance to go to college, unlike many people here and abroad.

Here’s a few ideas on how to make the most of this coming year:

1. Take elective courses in things that interest you. Don’t worry about how they relate to your major. Who knows, you might find a field you like much better.

2. Meet lots of people by going to events, joining groups, and getting out of your dorm room and away from the TV or computer.

3. Talk to your professors about the subjects you’re interested in. They can help you figure out what you want to do when you get out of here.

4. Stop eating fast food. If you can afford to eat out, check out the local restaurants. Downtown is actually a really happening place.

5. Ride bikes. Leave your car at home. This will keep you in shape, keep you connected with campus and community, and it’s fun.

6. Go to a protest. Organize a protest. Counter-protest a protest. You never know, you might make a difference.

7. Speak your mind, but even more important, listen to what others have to say.

8. Take this list, tear it out of the paper, and write your own ideas down, too!

College can be an expensive waste of time, or it can be pretty awesome. You decide!

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