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// At Purdue University

Looking Past The Diploma

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College puts a lot of pressure on students. We are suddenly thrust into this world to fend for ourselves, make our own schedules and follow our own rules. Then, we take a full course load on top of that. In short, college makes you grow up fast. 

Hardly any of that growing up happens in the class room. You do not pick up the core life skills that a self-sufficient member of society needs from behind a desk with a pencil in your hand. Real Life 101 doesn't have a CRN number. Your first day of class starts the day your parents drive off after moving you in.

The syllabus is nearly blank. It has your name listed as the instructor and has the words, "figure it out" written in the center of its single page. This class does not factor into your diploma, but it will give your diploma more value than any of the classes you take. 

The separation between the bottom of the class and the top of the class in Real Life 101 is apparent. Those who make up the bottom of the class, learned little more in college than what was assigned to them in class -- other than how to do their own laundry and make ramen noodles. These are the ones who stay within their comfort zone, do not test their limits and pass up all the wonderful opportunities that Purdue offers. These are the ones who will have nothing, but a piece of paper when they get their diploma at graduation.

Chances are, if you are reading these words, then you are part of the top of the class -- because you broadened your experience beyond the classroom and went Greek. Going Greek is the cornerstone of what Purdue has given me outside the class room. Fraternity men on this campus know the skills they have gained through their involvement in their chapter, starting with pledgeship and translating into active brotherhood. Sorority women on this campus also know they have grown as people and leaders through their involvement. I don't need to explain how grateful I am for what my chapter has given me, not to you guys. You know the feeling as well as I do.

That being said, Greek life isn't the only way to enroll in Real Life 101. College puts so many opportunities for you to grow within your reach. Limiting your experience to the classroom is like going to an amusement park and riding the least exciting ride the whole day. Purdue has innumerable clubs, student organizations, learning communities, leadership opportunities and ways to diversify your college experience that are at your fingertips. Check out boilerlink.purdue.edu/Organizations and take a look at where you can get involved on campus. It doesn't matter what you are into, there is probably a callout meeting for it somewhere, sometime. 

Your involvement can be small, supplemental to your degree, or it can be define your experience here. It is up to you. The only route I urge you to avoid is the path that does not branch. Take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that we have, here, and make your degree something more than just a piece of paper. Take your school work very seriously; tuition costs are no joke. But you are doing yourself a disservice if the only thing you do in college is go to class, do your homework and take your exams. 

Follow me on Twitter @dillonhavens or shoot me an email at dillon.havens@theodysseyonline.com to get in touch.

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