GUVERCIN: College experience is fundamental to our development

Opinion Column: The Bigger Picture

Throughout our lives, we have been exposed to an abundance of opinions regarding college and what it entails in a person’s life. We have heard people say it is the best four years of our lives, the worst four years of our lives and even the four years of our lives that we will never be able to remember. Despite our personal opinions regarding how fun or horrible college is, it is incontrovertibly one of the most critical points in life in the context of both academic and personal development. 

As students of Rutgers University, we are extremely privileged to be receiving a compelling education and a plethora of resources that can be utilized as outlets for intellectual growth and contribution. While it may seem intuitive and obvious that college is a paramount time in our lives in terms of development, as students, we often take it for granted and have a mentality of simply getting through it, passing classes and just having a good time. 

One way we can take advantage of our ephemeral time in college is by using it to develop our political and social opinions. Humans are shaped by their environment, so many of us naturally adopt the political stances of our families, friends and the society around us. This is a time where we can expose ourselves to different perspectives and opinions, be it through watching a different news channel or YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, following social media updates or reading articles about leading social and political figures, attending rallies and protests or even debating certain issues in order to gain and express a new perspective. 

Politics or topics surrounding social climates may not be everyone’s thing, but it is necessary that everyone who has access to a college education and the variety of resources that come with it have some level of awareness and understanding in order to proactively contribute through votes, involvement or at least intellectual discussion. 

Another way we can take advantage of their college years is by dedicating time to building our resumes and developing our professional, academic and social experiences. It would be a colossal waste of time to finish college with nothing but passed classes and a GPA under our belts, because especially at Rutgers, there are countless outlets through which students can be involved in internships, field experiences within their departments, jobs, clubs and organizations that can enhance their education and enrich their lives as a student. 

It is significantly more difficult to find and take advantage of such resources once we graduate, and in order to prevent the notorious struggle of finding a job or getting into graduate school, it is critical for students to commit to building their resumes and being involved in institutions that will cultivate their experiences and perspectives. 

Professors are also an aspect of college that we, as students, take for granted. There have been numerous times where I sat through a lecture, bored out of my mind and searched up the name of the professor online, only to find that they are a world-renowned academic who has a Wikipedia page and has made groundbreaking contributions to his or her field. We mistakenly expect only a grade from these professors, even though they have so much more to contribute if we just took the time to get to know them on a personal basis and establish a connection with them outside of the classroom. 

Not only can many professors provide guidance and mentorship both academically and professionally, but also an established relationship with a well-connected and educated academic can be a potentially worthwhile investment in terms of our future prospects.

Learning a language, pursuing a hobby, developing a new skill, being involved in a social or cultural organization, playing a sport, devoting time to personal fitness, building friendships, establishing professional social connections and understanding personal finance and budgeting are all some of the numerous pursuits that are meant to be sought after, especially during undergraduate years. It becomes significantly more difficult to find the time, money or energy to devote ourselves to them post-graduation.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, it is easier to simply acknowledge that college is an important time to take advantage of and pursue it to the fullest degree. When we choose to come to college, we also face a paramount decision to either spend it by just having a good time and trying to pass or take advantage of our circumstances and use it to gain and develop as much as we can before we truly learn what it means to be a college-educated adult.

Dilara Guvercin is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore double majoring in philosophy and psychology. Her column, "The Bigger Picture," runs on alternate Fridays.


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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