Acad is Life But Org is Lifer: Learning Beyond the Walls of the Classroom
As a young student, our parents always reminded us to study hard so we can have a decent job to support ourselves in the future. It is always, “focus on your studies”, “don’t go out too much”, “finish your homework first”, or “study first before relationships”. Excelling in our academics is expected and prioritized among others.
Good education and excellent grades are taught to be equated to success. But in reality, grades are just ¼ of the formula for success. As someone who used to prioritize grades in high school, I realized that the academic achievements I got does not make me stand out from others. Year after year, students are also being awarded for their academic achievements, so how can I stand out if others can do better?
There is no doubt that having high grades helps us move forward in life. It gives us the opportunity to be seen and stand out. Don’t get me wrong. High grades are definitely needed in the medical and scientific field. Generally, it is not the grades that matter. It is the attitude and discipline we gain from studying that allows us to stand out–similar to how athletes and musicians develop extreme discipline in training and practicing to have the skills needed to succeed.
College is a chance for us to develop and gain skills to excel and prepare us for the future. For the moment, online classes and virtual events have dominated half of our college life. It is harder to experience the full college life because everything is virtual. Now that I am in my third year, I finally saw how extra-curricular activities could really help someone prepare for their future. Throughout my stay in college, no one was ever impressed about my high school academic achievements. It is not something that would dictate success.
Being fortunate enough to be involved in several extracurricular activities, I realized that I started gaining workplace skills and experience while being involved in different organizations. It taught me how to be professional and be a good team player. I met and worked with people in different backgrounds. It allowed me to be more aware of the different cultures and it exposed me to the working field early. I noticed that people do not remember me as someone who had high grades, but as someone who was involved in different events or organizations. Similarly, I get to know people because of their involvement in different school activities. It was always, “s/he was the host for the event I attended”, “s/he was part of the officers who organized the event with more than 100 attendees”, or “s/he was the one who always emails me for event invitations and is involved with many activities”. Rarely do I hear someone refer or remember me as a student part of the Dean’s List.
Grades are important but it should not take over our college experience. There are so many things that we could see if we look hard enough. Joining organizations and volunteering for events are opportunities to develop skills necessary for us to be two-steps closer to success. It also allows us to broaden our network and gain connections with different industry practitioners. Hearing my teachers’ success stories, I noticed that it is mostly connections that opened doors for them and not their grades. It is uncommon to hear someone associate their success just by being top of their class. There are so many things that we could learn when we put ourselves out there and go out of our comfort zones. Job opportunities do not just fall on our lap even if we graduate with Latin honors. Opportunities come to those people who actively chase for it.
I really appreciate that my academic achievements are recognized through my scholarship. However, I am most grateful for the opportunities that I received because I took a chance to put myself out there and do something I don’t usually do. I applied to different organizations and took as many responsibilities as I could. It wasn’t always a successful application but little by little I started to be confident of my abilities and my skills. Any rejected application or non-responsive emails I got were lessons and opportunities to be better.
f I could give a small tip on how to be more involved in extracurricular activities, it would be “start small”. If someone could not muster up the courage to apply for an officer position, then start by participating in as many events as one can. Enderun is a small community. The organizers will definitely notice a repeating name or face in their events. In this online education, once a name sticks, people will remember and reach out to them personally. I know because I do the same when recommending a new member or inviting someone to apply for an officer position. As students say it nowadays, Acad is Life but Org is Lifer. Academic life is important but the life we gain from joining organizations is more important!
Take a shot, stop overthinking, and just do it.