Column: College: Time to direct your passion

Kate Bigam

Which stereotype were you in high school? Every school has them — the Ultra-Jock, the School Spirit Junkie, the Uber-Geek — the list goes on.

I was Miss Everything, hyper-involved in every extracurricular activity I could squeeze into my schedule. Show choir, Student Council, class executive committee and the school newspaper were just a few of the massively time-consuming activities I invested all my waking hours in.

“They’ll look good on college applications,” I reminded myself. If you were like me, impressing potential colleges was the ultimate objective, and anything that padded your credentials was nothing short of essential.

And now, here you are. You’ve completed four years of intensely gratifying over-involvement, but what does it matter in the college world? I’m sorry to tell you that the answer is absolutely nothing.

Sure, you may bond with the girl in your dorm from the competing high school’s show choir while comparing jazz hands, or swapping prom-planning horror stories with some other class president. In the grand college scheme, though, high school extracurriculars are about as important as the timed mile run you did in gym class every year. That is to say: not at all.

In college, opportunities for involvement are seemingly endless. Here, you can seek out organizations that suit your personal life, such as PRIDE!Kent or the College Republicans; you can join a social, academic or philanthropic Greek organization, or all three.

So what’s the big difference between high school and college extracurricular activities? At first glance, not much, other than college’s vast increase in choices. But take heed, freshmen: You are in a whole new world. High school offered you a broad range of general education to prepare yourself to specialize — a.k.a. “major” — in your life’s passion once you reach the university level. And once you’re here, your major should become your life.

That’s not to say that you should devote all of your waking hours to studying. But your major ought to become your top priority, academically and socially. Before you sign up for every campus organization in existence, take a mental inventory of what truly interests you and will benefit you most.

As a journalism major, I chose to write for the Stater and other campus publications. I did public relations work for Hillel when it hosted “The West Wing’s” Josh Malina. I am careful to hone my campus involvement so that it directly reflects my journalistic goals and strengthens my skills. Why? Because when you’re not wasting your time with extraneous activities, you have time to focus on what means the most to you.

Sounds boring, right? Hardly. Being among students in your major introduces you to the unique bonds that can only be made between people with similar interests. The topics of conversation are endless and the experiences you gain can be invaluable, depending on the amount of effort you put into your level of involvement.

So set forth into college, young freshmen, and seek out your passion. I promise you, you’re going to love the life you create for yourself once you do.

Kate Bigam is a senior journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].