Special Section

Ten Things I Learned in College That Have Nothing to do With GPA

UWEC student Aaron White fills you in on what he’s learned in college outside of the classroom.

Aaron White |

1. Take risks.

I’m not talking about leaving your car on the wrong side of the street in the middle of winter. I’m talking about getting involved with an activity that scares you. One of the most important lessons I learned at UW-Eau Claire was the college is the most formative four (or five or six or seven) years of your life. Now that you have freedom, enjoy taking risks with that freedom. Get involved in a new club. Learn a new language. Volunteer to be a Campus Ambassador and use those public speaking skills. Join a choir or audition for the musical. Master slacklining, or break your arm trying. The opportunities are endless!

2. Just do you.

You are you. You are not the girl down the hall that everyone loves, or the guy at the gym that is dating the girl down the hall that everyone loves. Now is the time to figure out what you can contribute to your school, your social circles, and the world outside of your university. Finding what makes you tick is going to help you navigate the rest of your life. Spoiler Alert: The rest of your life is only four years away.

3. Stop saying you’re color-blind.

A recent report from Politico gave our generation some hard truths about Millennials’ ideas of racial inequality and colorblindness. In fact, telling a person of color that you are “color blind” is a hurtful microaggression. Of course we see color! We should see color! How do we break down these walls?

Do something about it. We all know actions speak louder than words. Once we are able to acknowledge how different a person’s lived experiences can be depending on the color of their skin, we can work to alleviate those attitudes/actions/systems upon which racial oppression is based. Acknowledge your own privilege. Be an active bystander and challenge racism wherever you encounter it. Have the courage to admit when you are wrong and the fortitude to change your behavior, language, and/or attitude.

Here are some clubs and opportunities you might be interested in:
• Live on the international floor in KT or Towers South
• African Student Association
• Baltic Student Organization
• Black Student Association
• Chinese Culture Club
• Club de Espanol
• Der Deutsche Verein
• Eau Claire Irish Dance
• Hmong Student Association
• International Students Association
• Japanese Culture Society
• Korean Student Association
• Le Salon Français
• Malaysian Abroad Diversified
• Native American Student Association
• Student Organization of Latinos/as

4. Call your mother.

She misses you. So does your dad. Let them know what’s going on in your life. They might even send you cookies during finals week if you’re lucky.

5. What you put in, you get out.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about academics, fitness, nutrition or your overall experience at UW-Eau Claire. If you put your heart into it, you’ll love your experience by your senior year.

6. Say "thank you."

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but there are tons of people that are helping you succeed in college every day. Your parents, your professors, your RA, your hall director, the person that cleaned up after you last Friday night … you get the picture.

7. Actually get involved.

So you went to Blu’s Org Bash, and you signed up for 15 different clubs? Good luck making it to all of those meetings. It’s great to be involved, but make sure you’re giving back in the organization, too. Your time in the org will be more valuable, and you’ll learn more along the way.

8. But be OK with taking naps.

College is hard. Nap it out.

“You miss 100% of the naps you don’t take.” –Me

9. Dance in the rain … or whatever.

Do what makes you happy. I don’t care if you’re screlting (scream-belting) Beyoncé, baking cookies, or throwing the football around. As long as it makes you happy, that’s what matters. Take the time to de-stress, and enjoy your college experience. You’re only here for four years (or five, or six, or seven …)

10. You are not Katy Perry.

Don’t let “Last Friday Night” be EVERY Friday night. Spend a few Friday nights in, and get to know your good friend Netflix. Frank Underwood misses you.

Aaron White is a senior at UW-Eau Claire, studying mass communication: public relations. You may have seen Aaron around campus singing with the Singing Statesmen, performing in last spring’s musical, or serving as a Resident Assistant in Towers South. Aaron doesn’t have free time, but if he did he would travel, take up fencing, start a bowtie collection, and roast his own coffee.

This list originally appeared on myuwec.tumblr.com.