Before Thanksgiving dinner every year, my family goes around and each person says for what they are thankful. This year, I was not only thankful for my family, friends, and security, but also for the opportunities that my education has given me.
Prior to starting at Transylvania, I always knew that my education was important, but my perception of learning was comprised of textbooks and standardized tests. Since August tenth, however, my very first day as a Pioneer, my expectations have been shattered and my view of learning has changed dramatically.
I have learned that education happens as much out of the classroom as in it. There is learning on the residential side of campus (laundry, living with a roommate, getting to class on time) as well as on the academic side. Even if you are a commuter student, college is in a totally different ball park compared to high school.
Learning also happens simply from the people around you. Unlike in high school when you are surrounded by people from the same area and similar backgrounds, college brings together a diverse population in its students, faculty, and staff. Indeed, the people who serve us in the cafeteria and make our facilities clean have as interesting of stories as the international student in your discussion-based classroom.
Co-curricular opportunities are yet another aspect of Transylvania which enhances learning outside the classroom. First-year students are required to complete a quarter-credit class called “Creative Engagements,” which requires us to attend sixteen approved events. Six of these are required, like the introduction to Career Development or Study Abroad, while ten are up to the individual. So far, I have been to lectures by visiting faculty about the medicalization of society and strategic morality; I have watched documentaries about the Farm Bill and the food industry; I have cheered for poets from across the United States in a gypsy poetry slam; and I have viewed and discussed Cabin in the Woods with the Film Junkies club.
Of course, textbooks and exams are vital aspects of the education process, but the liberal arts encompass more than that. Transylvania presents countless opportunities to get involved, to pique interests, and to discover who we will become. The residential side of campus, the people, and the co-curricular opportunities just scratch the surface of the possibilities.
I’m thankful that I have four years at this great university, and I’m thankful that each day I am immersed in possibility.