Column - Your time at WVU will be what you make of it
Published: Friday, August 17, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 17, 2012 02:08
It’s almost that time of year again. As summer vacation gives way to the fall semester, you and thousands of your fellow freshmen will begin your college careers Aug. 20, gripped by a wide array of hopes, expectations and aspirations.
Through FallFest, which is held during the first week of the semester, you will get your first taste of West Virginia University’s infamous wild side. This is a side of WVU many are already acquainted with, thanks in part to the notorious "I’m Shmacked" videos. The perception of WVU as a place for people who love to party is undoubtedly why some of you chose to come here.
As you’ve probably heard, the Princeton Review placed WVU as the No. 6 party school in its annual ranking. The Review also ranked us No. 13 in the "students who study least" category, a few spots lower than the prized No. 1 spot we held two years ago.
This perception of WVU, while grounded in some truth, leads many people to overlook the plethora of opportunities the University has to offer students of just about any interest. Believe it or not, there is a whole lot more to WVU than wild parties, football games and couch burning.
As someone who spent a year at a small liberal arts school that didn’t offer a fraction of the opportunities readily available to students here, I have a piece of advice for you: Do not take it for granted.
The next four years will probably be some of the most memorable of your life, and they will shape who you will be for the rest of your adult life.
Whether you are interested in student organizations, intramural sports, studying abroad or bonding with a world-renowned professor, West Virginia University has something for you.
Although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the time you have here, it would truly be a shame for you to pass up on the great opportunities afforded by the University. It’s no coincidence WVU has produced 25 Rhodes Scholars, 33 Goldwater Scholars and 22 Truman Scholars.
The unfortunate notion WVU is a place where people are concerned with little more than partying tends to overshadow the endless possibilities it provides for ambitious, motivated students.
Regardless of whether you are looking for a unique new experience or searching for other people who share your background or interests, you won’t have to look very far.
For example, if you are interested in fencing, there’s a student organization for that. How about astronomy? There’s a student organization for that, too. Human rights? The Republican Party? The Democratic Party? Protecting the environment?
There are student organizations for all of those. And if you’re interested in something that doesn’t already have a student organization, you can start your own.
Student organizations are a great way to build a network of people who share your interests and career goals, and they provide you with priceless leadership experience.
Maybe you are interested in doing research in neuroscience? There’s a summer internship for that. How about research in nanotechnology or cancer? There are also summer internship programs for those. Want to volunteer your time to help others or simply to build your resume? Check with the Center for Civic Engagement.
There is always a steady stream of diverse opportunities to volunteer, ranging from recycling to disaster relief fundraisers. Whether it’s doing research on the human nervous system, studying abroad in Europe or volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, there is no shortage of opportunities for life-defining experiences here.
It all comes down to how willing you will be to pursue these opportunities as they come up – and they will come up often.
You are now at the beginning of a journey that will probably transform you and one that will provide the foundation for your future personal and professional life. During your time here, you will be given very powerful tools for success.
All it takes to utilize these tools is a strong desire to achieve. If you have the willpower and the work ethic to excel, you have the opportunity to put yourself on track to being WVU’s next nationally recognized scholar.
Or you could succumb to indifference and contribute to the negative image of WVU as a large party school with little more to offer than booze and a lively nightlife.
The choice is yours.