Making the Most of Your Clemson Education

Making the Most of Your Clemson Education

“The purpose of education is to give to the body and to the soul all the beauty and all the perfection of which they are capable.” –Plato

I spent my freshman year getting through classes by cramming, procrastinating, and doing the bare minimum in order to achieve the grades that I wanted. This did work for me in that way; I reached the goals that I had set for myself. But looking back on it, I hardly learned anything at all. Today, I couldn’t tell you about the human skeleton and systems, or about all of the theories I memorized definitions for, or have a five-minute conversation with you in Spanish using the tenses that I learned. I crammed, memorized, aced it, and completely forgot it. I was missing the point. Here’s what I should’ve done differently:

  • Committed myself to understanding the human skeleton and systems for the sake of understanding how my body works. That way, when my friend’s leg was hurting and she thought she pulled a muscle, I could’ve remembered the name of the muscle she pointed to and been of better assistance.
  • Committed myself to understanding all those theories so that I could identify, understand, and make connections when I observed them in the real world. That way, when we learned about cognitive dissonance in my persuasion class and our professor asked if any of us knew what it meant, I could’ve explained it to her/the class.
  • Committed myself to learning tenses and vocabulary words so that if I’m ever in a situation that could be benefited by knowledge of the language, I could have it in my pocket. That way, when a customer came into the store where I worked over the summer who spoke no English, I could have helped him find what he needed.

Clemson has a lot to offer us. When you think about the rest of your life, four years is a pretty short amount of time. That being said, we should take advantage of all that it available in the time we are given. What does this mean?

Using Campus Capital to Grow Your Own Capital

Let’s talk a little bit about 4 types of capital: personal capital, intellectual capital, social capital, and financial capital. Personal capital is how well you know yourself. This can consist of having self-awareness and knowing your strengths, your unique characteristics, your Myers Briggs, your enneagram, etc. Intellectual capital is what you know, or your skill and subject mastery. Many college students end up graduating without this because of cramming or not enough review time. Social capital is who you know, and who knows you. Most college students only network with their peers, but effective networking is important. Lastly, financial capital is who knows that you know what you know. This is the intersection of intellectual and social capital; when the right people know that you know what you know, financial opportunities are created. How can we take advantage of Clemson’s capital to maximize our own?

This means using Clemson’s resources of intellectual capital to impact what we know, such as classmates, professors, online databases, libraries, the Academic Success Center, or research. Taking advantage of Clemson’s social capital means using alumni networks, student groups and organizations, guest speakers, or people that live and learn around you to impact who you know and who knows you. Taking advantage of Clemson’s financial capital means using Clemson’s resources of scholarships, grants, financial aids, and all of the various equipment that we have access to to impact who knows that we know what we know.

There’s a lot that we can do here at Clemson to grow our minds and expand on all that we already have to offer. We can take advantage of our campus’s capital, which includes the professors whose material we can aim to do more than just remember, but also understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. And we can utilize all of its other resources so that we can genuinely discover what our best versions of ourselves look like. We can develop knowledge and skills with which we can equip ourselves in future endeavors, rather than aiming for the highest GPA to impress employers. Show, don’t tell. But I keep saying that Clemson has so much to offer, and some of you may be wondering what exactly I’m talking about…

Using Clemson’s Resources

I wanted to compile a list of all of the academic resources that Clemson has for students to use. Hopefully, this can help you learn about some new programs and opportunities on campus that you didn’t know about!

  • Academic Success Center
    • Tutoring – free, drop-in, over 100 courses
    • Peer Assisted Learning – learning from students who have previously taken the class with the same professor and received A in the course
    • Academic Coaching – one-on-one interaction to build accountability in student’s academic plans
    • Academic Advising – for undeclared majors
    • Academic Recovery – opportunity to enroll in CU 1010
    • Workshops – cover topics such as test taking strategies, test anxiety, time management, lecture note taking, etc.
    • Writing Center – helping members of Clemson community become more confident and effective writers
    • Student Accessibility Services – SAS provides accommodations for students with documented disabilities
  • Library
    • Borrowing materials, improving your research, places to study, meeting spaces for reservation
    • Databases, in-person and online assistance, built guides for doing research into specific topics
    • Adobe Digital Studio – provides students with digital production skills and the technology to use them

Now that we know what these resources are and why it’s important to take advantage of them, let’s talk about how we can really utilize these throughout college, careers, and beyond.

Applying These Capital and Resources

You can start by applying these capital and resources right here on campus. There are over 400 student organizations that allow you to form communities with others who have similar interests to you, including many that are academic-centered. For example, there’s Psychology Club, Alpha Omega Epsilon (professional and social sorority for women in engineering and technical science majors), Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries, Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, Engineers Without Borders, and Forestry Club, just to name a few. You can take this one step further by seeking a leadership position in these groups, so that you can use the knowledge you’ve learned from professors and skills that you’ve picked up along the way to influence others. Another way you could apply your knowledge is to consider getting on the other side of tutoring or PAL, and using your knowledge and expertise to help others. You can apply what you’re learning on campus to all of your other classes in order to expand on what you have learned and make connections to past, present, and future courses you take. Or, you can study abroad. If you’re taking any business, language, health courses, you can apply and expand your knowledge abroad while getting out of your comfort zone and improving open-mindedness, perspective, and independence.

The second way to apply your knowledge is in the transition between college and career.

Resumes, cover letters, and interviews give you the ability to demonstrate all that you have gotten out of your Clemson education. A huge way of applying all that you learned from Clemson is in the internships or jobs you seek out, directly giving you the chance to approach what you learned in the classroom in a more hands-on way. I would also recommend learning about career fairs and other events that give you the chance to network and show potential employers what you know.

All that you learn at Clemson will still impact you in your career post-graduation as well as in your daily life. You can apply, create, and use knowledge in a meaningful way in the internships and careers that you pursue upon graduating, but really, college teaches you so much more than just information. You have gained a diverse toolbox of soft skills like self-discipline, time management, independence, acceptance, budgeting money, balancing, setting goals, collaboration, communicative/people skills, and responsibility.

Your time here at Clemson is pretty powerful. You learn a lot of valuable information covering a wide breadth of subjects, and learn important skills like these along the way.

By: Melissa Rau


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