Many friends and fellow Sam Houston alumni who graduated with me last December went on to make their reputations in the world. Some have traveled as far as New York to etch out actressing careers, and others are sacrificing themselves in Teach for America.
I elected to become a Huntsville townie for the semester. I work at a local motel, frequent the Stardust Room with my band of merry men, and even participate in campus events exclusive to enrolled students. This fall will be different.
Last semester, I catalogued my woes and lamentations about applying to graduate school. Here is the conclusion.
I’ve been accepted to several schools. The moral to walk away with is this: Become involved with your university. Any success I’ve had thus far has been dependent on extracurricular work just as much as work within the classroom.
The idea of spending thousands of dollars for a piece of paper is abhorrent because the college experience is sterile if it’s limited strictly to punching in answers and receiving a grade. As a recent graduate and proud alumnus of Sam Houston State University, I urge every student to get his or her money’s worth. Join and become an active member in something you’re interested in, be it a Greek organization, departmental honors society, religious group, or volunteer organization.
Don’t just give lip service to the organizations you record on your resume. Departmental honors societies, fraternities/sororities, and other civic organizations provide opportunities for furthering your education, as well as gaining leadership experience. Robert Putnam discusses this need for social capital at length in Bowling Alone. I recommend this book to everyone.
Sam Houston’s most admirable facet is its cultivation of diversity and tolerance. This university bridges students and faculty who are diverse in ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, and religion. For example, despite the campus’s variegated-occasionally passionate-ideologies last election, there were no reports of Sam Houston students pelting eggs at now-president Obama’s cardboard likeness.
There are countless religious organizations at Sam Houston varying in size and fanaticism. In addition to providing opportunities for volunteering and helping around the community, they provide an excellent forum to learn about different viewpoints than your own. It was impressive to watch last year as Chi-Alpha (XA) and the Sam Houston Atheist Alliance (SHAA) held a public debate in which casualties were minor.
I hope in the coming years that similar opportunities for civil dialogue take place. My only spiritual-economic advice is to not waste three thousand dollars going on a mission to a developed country with a strong tradition of Christianity. Take that for what it’s worth.
If your greatest achievement during college is killing a thirty pack-alone or cooperatively-at least take the Keystone cans in for recycling. Go to try2recyclehuntsville dot com for information about recycling in town. Even when the inclination to covertly steal every copy of The Houstonian strikes (as it has before), those copies would be better off recycled than in a dumpster, or collecting bird droppings.
And for God’s sake, clean up after your dogs!