Column: Become involved outside the classroom

Om the Record

Valerie Andrews

Maroon Staff

Valerie Andrews

by Valerie Andrews

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You’re a freshman at Loyola, excited about the start of your college career. You’ve scheduled your classes. You’ve bought the books, checked out the Blackboard resources and read through the syllabus. You might be working a part-time job to help pay your expenses; that will occupy some of your time. Maybe not right away, but somewhere down the line you’ll have to allocate time for reading and studying and research paper writing. And you have to spend a little time getting to know your new roommate.

So, after sleeping, eating and hopefully showering, what are you going to do with the few free hours you have? After all the school- and job-related obligations, allowing for some type of social life and the occasional 15 minute housecleaning spree, you should have at least a couple of hours each week. (By my calculations, it’s four hours, but math’s not my strong suit.)

At Loyola you can’t swing a dead cat (it’s an expression; don’t call animal rights on me!) without hitting a club or organization, event or course that will help you not only fill those hours but also make the most of them.

If you’re a leader with great energy and ideas, there’s an organization just waiting for you to bring that spirit and enthusiasm to help achieve the group’s goals.

Not enough leadership experience? There’s a place for you as well. Leaders need people to lead. You can learn what it takes to be a great leader and apply it in the future. In the meantime, you can provide a great service or work on other skills, make new friends and build self-esteem.

Have a particular passion? There’s an opportunity for that. Each of Loyola’s colleges and most of the departments have professional associations that allow you to learn more about your field, develop new skills and network with classmates and professionals.

In the School of Mass Communication, our students are very lucky. They can become part of The Maroon or The Wolf, Loyola’s award-winning student media, from their first day on campus. And we have three — and are about to add a fourth — professional associations for students to join. We have competition teams that bring us national recognition; those teams are comprised of students who are willing to go above and beyond the classroom and invest those extra hours in pushing to be the best in the country. And doesn’t that look fabulous on a résumé!

Want to do something completely outside your major? The Office of Service Learning can connect you with someone who needs you. You might tutor a youngster, work the phones or play with little kids. And that looks good on a résumé too. Prospective employers often ask about your out-of-class activities in job interviews. You want to make sure you have something listed there to start that conversation.

You can join a sorority or fraternity, volunteer with LUCAP or create programming with UPB. And that’s just a few of your options. The Loyola website lists student organizations under Student Affairs; I quit counting at 70.

Want to work at something that doesn’t have an existing unit? Start one. A group of mass communication majors, already active in various SMC and university organizations, created a new leadership council as a result of a pre-semester workshop. The members of this council could have said, “We’re busy. We’re involved. We don’t have time.” But they saw a need, and they acted to fill it. KAPS is less than a month old and already planning new programs.

Loyola is about opportunity, the opportunity to become an educated professional, an engaged citizen and a better person. Part of our mission statement says the university “strives to educate the whole student.” But you have to meet us halfway. Don’t let your four years in higher education start and end in the classroom. Now go figure out what you’re going to do with those four hours.

Valerie Andrews is a mass communication professor and the director of the Shawn M. Donnelley Center for Nonprofit Communications. She can be reached at [email protected]

On the Record is a weekly column open to any member of Loyola’s faculty and staff. Those interested in contributing can contact

[email protected]

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