Halfway through my fourth year out of college, it’s a perfect time for me to reflect on what my experience was like. I’m generally left with one thought; I could have done so much more. Sure I had a great time at Hanover, which in turn led to the perfect job working for our Fraternity. But now being a few months away from obtaining a master’s degree that will hopefully keep me working with college students for some time, I know that my experience could have been much greater. At this point, there’s nothing I can do. Many of you, however, have plenty of time! Working at a university every day has given me a far greater appreciation of the opportunities that college has to offer. I am continually overwhelmed by what I see students accomplish and equally disappointed when I see students, particularly fraternity men, waste their time and money. From what I’ve seen and what I could have done, here are a few suggestions that I have come up with on how you can make the most of your college experience.
Never discount an experience
You have no idea what’s in store for you at any campus event. Some of the best opportunities to expand yourself are waiting in places you would least expect. As fraternity men, we often feel like we have a reputation or image to uphold and are scared to try new things. The most impressive men I have come across are those that have the courage to not care what their brothers think of them. The best recruitment comes from making friends so why aren’t you out there trying to make as many friends as you can? Don’t be confined by the sometimes misguided opinions of your brothers. Rather, get to know as many people and experiences as you can before it’s too late.
There’s always time
So stop making excuses. The old football coach at my undergrad used to say “There are 168 hours in a week. Discounting 8 hours of sleep a night, what are you doing with the other 112?” Think about that for a minute. Never mind the fact that a lot of us probably aren’t getting 8 hours of sleep. We can talk all we want about class or work or fraternity, but chances are we still spend plenty of time watching Sportscenter or playing video games. I was guilty of this as anyone and trust me when I tell you that four years from now, no one is going to care what your killstreak was on Halo. Instead, why not grab a couple of your brothers and head to the organization fair or campus fest or whatever else your school calls it? I guarantee that your campus has something that will interest you. If not, start something. I haven’t met a student affairs professional yet who is going to stand in the way of a student getting involved.
Get to know your professors
These are the people that often know your campus the best. Not only will it make your classes more enjoyable, but these are some of the most interesting men and women with whom you’ll ever get a chance to speak. Regardless of your field of study, these are the experts and have dedicated their lives to making sure you can become an expert too…if you want. Stop by their office hours and chat with them, find out what they did before coming back to teach, ask them what they like to do on the weekend. The more you invest in getting to know them, the more they are going to invest in making sure you succeed.
The point is this, men: Before you know it, graduation is going to come whether you like it or not. What you do in these four years is going to set up the next several years of your life. Don’t waste it. I know I’m not the first person to tell you this and I assure you I won’t be the last. Hopefully, you listen to someone and don’t make the same mistakes I did. Your fraternity experience is great and will certainly provide you with numerous benefits. But there is so much more to the college experience. So put down the remote, get out of the house and make the best of it!
Jon is a second year masters student in the College Student Personnel program at Bowling Green State University. Before this, Jon spent two great years traveling for the Fraternity in the Southeast Region. At Bowling Green, Jon works as a graduate assistant in Fraternity & Sorority Life advising the Interfraternity Council among other things. Jon and his wife, Ellen (a former Delta Zeta consultant), actually live with the men of the Ohio Kappa Chapter of Phi Delta Theta where he additionally serves as the chapter advisor. Jon enjoys all things outdoors and likes to pretend he is a decent golfer from time to time.