Some of the best advice that I can give you during your time at Rensselaer is to “get involved.” You won’t regret it. Whether you’re a freshman or a graduate student, it’s never too late. RPI is fantastic at giving you one of the best opportunities in the country for a great education, but that’s only part of the equation.
If you want to be well-rounded and feel as though you truly had a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime college experience, gained beneficial life skills, and made lifelong friends, you need to do more than just go to class, to the library, or study in your room. There are far more opportunities to expand your horizons while attending Rensselaer than you might think.
Whether you play a sport on the college or intramural level, join a fraternity or sorority, get involved in a campus office, join one or more of the numerous available clubs and organizations (including such groups as the RPI Players, WRPI, The Poly, Red & White, etc.), and/or volunteer for a local community organization, you’ll be happy you did.
One area where I was personally very involved during my time at RPI was with my fraternity—the Rensselaer Society of Engineers. That participation in Greek life helped shape who I am today, by giving me social and leadership skills that I likely would not have gained had I not been involved. The lifelong friendships and positive feelings from almost forty years ago cause me to remain involved in campus life to this day, as President of the RSE alumni board, a member of the Rensselaer Alumni Association Board of Trustees, and chairman of the Reunion Committee for my class. Even after all these years, I continue many of the friendships from my time at Rensselaer.
Please don’t miss this unique opportunity. You will develop some life skills and lasting friendships, and this involvement could even help you foster some key contacts that could assist you in your chosen career later in life. Some of these affiliations might enhance your résumé to make you the preferred candidate for a position when you and another applicant have very similar skills to offer. Most companies are looking to hire employees who are well-rounded and demonstrate some life skills, in addition to what they learned from books.
It is worthwhile to stay in touch with the school after you graduate. Sure, you may be asked to donate to the Annual Fund from time to time (and that ultimate choice regarding possible participation is yours alone), but this is only part of the overall picture. After you leave, the continued contact with RPI can be very beneficial. For example, the RAA started an Endowment Fund a few years ago, and some of the money from that effort has been used to create the new Rensselaer Career Services office to help both new and older alums find jobs via RPI connections.
Please take advantage of every opportunity afforded you, no matter how small it might seem at the time. You might be surprised by what “getting involved” can lead to for you.
Tom Keating ’75 is a member of the Rensselaer Alumni Association Board of Trustees, and an advisor to the RSE fraternity. You may reach Tom at email@example.com.
Founded in 1869, The RAA is one of the oldest alumni associations in the country, and consists of over 100,000 alumni worldwide, represented by an alumni board of trustees who work to empower and engage current and future alumni in meaningful and strategic partnerships with Rensselaer. If you have questions about the Rensselaer Alumni Association and its programs and services, contact the Alumni Office at 276-6205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alum101 is a program that helps you transition from student life to post-graduation life. Join us for Alum101 events and programs throughout the school year.