As a Secondary English Education major at UD, there are a great number of things I could tell (and even teach!) you about things you can learn in a classroom. Off the cuff, I could come up with at least a dozen “lessons within lessons” I’ve learned in classrooms throughout my college career alone. However, the most important piece of advice I’ve ever received in a classroom led me out of those rows of desks, out onto campus, and even farther out into the world.

photo1-2This piece of advice came from a professor whose insight and wisdom I have cherished from the moment I stepped into her classroom the fall of my freshman year. She handed out a syllabus that is still one of the most daunting documents I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across, and when she finally let class out (and there is no syllabus week for this professor), she said:

“You will never again be able to explore and experiment with so many activities and events, for so little cost, as you will be able to on a college campus.”

She went on to explain that any students who attended three events on campus and wrote up a short reaction paper for each would receive three points added to their final grade. Honors nerd? I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how quickly my mind leapt to seizing that extra credit opportunity.

What this professor asked, however, turned out to be a little more daunting than I had expected. I consider myself an outgoing person (and for those of you reading on campus or at home, no knowing snickers from the peanut gallery), and I still found it challenging to attend events in which I wasn’t sure I’d even have an interest. Nevertheless, attend those sorts of events (and earn those three extra credit points!) I did, and continued to do for the next two semesters I intentionally took this professor’s classes.

Maya Angelou at the University of Delaware.

Maya Angelou at the University of Delaware.

Some pearls of wisdom from the events I attended and activities I explored… The first and foremost is that there will always be more people than you anticipated at a gathering that coaxes attendees with free food; in other words, you should get there early to get the best of what they’ve ordered, and a seat for the actual event. I also learned that yoga happens to be much more athletic and exhausting than I’d supposed, but that those last five minutes where you just lie on the mat and listen to yourself breathe make the hour of human-pretzel making worth it. And when your university gets a guest speaker like Maya Angelou to come to campus and speak? You better believe you’re going, and you better believe it’s going to change your life.

My bottom line? I’ve learned a lot inside my classrooms in my three years at UD, but I’ve learned just as much outside them, just being around the amazing people and opportunities the campus has to offer.

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