Editorial Notebook

More to college than academics, grades

When I first came to Rensselaer, I really didn’t know all that much about it, but I thought I did. I, an engineering major who had always loved math and science, was going to a tech school. That turned out to be very true, however when I got here I found out that there was so much more than simply the academics I had been looking forward to and expecting. A huge part of life here on campus takes place outside of the classroom. Beyond the lectures and labs are a wealth of clubs, sports, competitions, and research available to those who are interested.

I personally believe that it is critical to have a life outside of academics. That’s where you can meet friends and pursue what interests you. When all you do is school, it becomes too easy to get caught up in the little disappointments. All of a sudden it becomes the end of the world if you fail a test or receive a not-so-great grade on a paper. A constant single-minded focus on coursework also brings with it the trap of monotony. When all you do is wake up, go to class, study, and then go to sleep to start all over again in the morning, life very quickly gets boring and hard to maintain.

Participating in things outside of the classroom gives you some- thing to work on and move forward with. You can see improvement in yourself, in the project, or even in your level of involvement within an organization. One of the things that makes Rensselaer unique is the openness of all its extracurriculars. If you want to join a club, you can; you don’t even have to know what you’re doing. Just ask and someone will probably show you. RPI and the Union provide a platform for students to stretch and explore their interests in whichever way they choose.

As I’ve talked to friends who go to a variety of other schools across the country, one of the major struggles that I’ve seen people face is in getting involved. Whether it’s because everything comes with a competitive application or because every club is a massive, complex organization that is terrifying to attempt to break into, people struggle to find ways to fill their time meaningfully outside of schoolwork.

I know that school is why we’re here, and that should always remain the priority. However, a great deal of learning can take place outside of the classroom and, in terms of maintaining happiness, it’s important to have an expanded focus. It is well worth it to take advantage of the opportunities that exist for students on campus and look beyond classes to try what’s out there. The chance is there, so why not take it?