By Samantha Armstrong/ AS Graduate Advisor

There is an old adage that says that the college years are “the best years of your life.” This, however, I believe to only hold true if you take the initiative to get involved in activities outside of the classroom. While there is obviously a lot of learning that goes on within the four white walls of a lecture hall or among the science equipment that crowds the Biology labs, the real education— life education— only happens when you are out in the world, living.

The education that comes from involvement in student organizations cannot be measured by simple letter grades; its assessment is vague, but its impact monumental. When one participates in any sort of extracurricular activity, new friendships are made and new horizons are opened. Participation in student groups offers many benefits: it creates camaraderie among its members, it offers an outlet for creative thought, it teaches valuable life skills, it fosters teamwork while encouraging individuality, and it creates memories that last a lifetime.

Camaraderie is created when a group of students come together to accomplish a common goal. Members of a group are often bound by shared interests and a desire to make a difference. Some of the strongest college friendships are formed outside of the classroom. These are the friendships that last beyond the coveted graduation ceremony.

Campus organizations are a product of the students of which they are made. Since there is no detailed road map that indicates the right direction to go, the activities of the club are an open book. Each club relies on the creativity of its members to organize collective activities or get the message out to the general public.
Most of life’s lessons are taught outside of the classroom. By participating in student clubs, one learns skills related to time-management, compromise, group work, and cooperation.

More important, such clubs teach their members the importance of accepting and understanding people from various backgrounds.
The most important effects of student involvement are the memories that it creates. In the years to come, as you reminisce about your years here at Western, you will most likely not remember what you learned in Freshman English or Survey of Music. What you will remember, however, is the time you organized a campus-wide activity or participated in a VU Late Night. These types of memories make college “the best years of your life.”

So, as this semester progresses, I hope that, in looking back, your memories will be sprinkled with a lot of laughter, smiles, and success, not only from within the classroom but also from outside. If your memories are limited to lectures and study groups, I encourage you to make a resolution to get more involved on campus by joining one of the numerous clubs or organizations OR by starting a new club.

To learn more about involvement opportunities or campus clubs, check out the Associated Students website at http://www.as.wwu.edu/ or come into the AS Student Activities Center on the fourth floor of the Viking Union. You may also give me a call at 650-2489.