Sometimes in college, the process of getting a degree can seem plodding and ineffective. Many students passionate and eager to get started in their professions can become frustrated when they’re forced to sit in a classroom absorbing materials that don’t relate to their desired field of employment. It’s easy to view these students as slackers, but in reality they’re very motivated individuals who want to pursue their dreams in a different way.
While a college degree is an important asset that shouldn’t be flippantly dismissed, the degree itself is not the sum of a person’s education. Many students prefer to enhance their college education through supplemental studying and hands-on work experience. The best way to do this is through co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and these opportunities are abundant at most colleges.
Co-curricular vs. extra-curricular
Co-curriculars and extra-curriculars are mostly the same thing — clubs, jobs or other activities enjoyed outside of your classroom studies. The only difference is that extra-curriculars exist independent from any classroom, while co-curriculars could be attached to a class or an academic form of study. For example, students in medical assistant programs might also decide to assist with clinical trials and/or other lab work in exchange for either school credit or tuition money. That would be considered a co-curricular.
An extra-curricular, meanwhile, could include working at the student newspaper or joining a club that is sponsored by your school but not explicitly attached to a classroom or field of study.
Building a resume of relevant experience
Whether you’re trying to do work to get into graduate school or just want to position yourself for a job, these out-of-class activities can create an advantage for yourself over your peers, and in more than one way.
Sometimes, organizations looking to hire you want to see that you’re familiar with the field and know what you’re getting into. But in other cases, they may be less concerned with what you actually know and simply looking to see proof that you’re serious about your stated goals. Having experience in a field — even if it’s only volunteer work and not directly related to your desired job role — can show your passion for the field. And if your work history demonstrates your aptitude for the job in question, then that’s all the better.
Getting your foot in the door
The other obvious benefit to co-curricular and extra-curricular involvement is that it creates networking opportunities you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Through these activities, you can establish a relationship with other professionals or organizations that later create employment opportunities. And since these people are able to see you in action — rather than guessing what you might be like based on your credentials and classroom performance — you’ll be a more viable candidate than other faceless names seeking out the same job. And even if you choose to go somewhere else to work, you might be able to use those connections as references.
College isn’t a one-dimensional place where your only objective is to get good grades and earn a degree. Rather, it’s a place where you should aim to enrich yourself in a variety of ways and build a foundation for a successful future. There are countless ways to go about doing that, so decide what’s best for your personal goals and set out to make an impression.
About the blogger: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.