If Students Be the Food of Life, Lead On

Two down and one to go. My in-depth analysis of my college grading rubric is coming to a written close, and yet is still just blossoming into something more tangible and usable than written thoughts alone.

On Wednesday I discussed the features of a college’s basic profile–their location, their expenses, school colors, and a few other points. Yesterday I spoke about academics, math and Judaica, foreign languages and politics, as well as some things like student/faculty ratios and accelerated programs, and I got some great feedback, too.

Today, I’m talking about life. Student life in particular.

Only seven points of interest caught me here.

First on the list (though not first in importance) is whether or not the school has an equivalent to GTCC’s Student Government Association. Since I’ve become so involved on campus, I can’t imagine not being involved in some way after I transfer. Granted, I won’t be starting with the reputation I’ve built here, so I may likely have to build up from the bottom again, but what a better learning opportunity or character challenge could there be?

So for an SGA, two points. But since most school have them, maybe only one point is warranted. In fact, since all the schools I looked at did have them, maybe it’s a moot point one way or the other.

Next is some sort of on-campus Jewish group. I’ve had spotty relations with local Jewish groups here, but if I’m away from home, far from my synagogue where right now my religious needs can be met, I’ll need some way to keep in touch with other Jews and actively cultivate as well as practice my religion. Maybe I won’t be in a leadership position in the group, but sometimes a few good friends and like-minds are all I need.

In fact, I have a strong suspicion my leadership involvement will be substantially less after I transfer. I feel as if I’ll need to take more classes per semester than I have here, so I’ll therefore have less time to commit to leadership. However, humans are social creatures (whether we like it or not) and Judaism is a faith of communities, so simply having these groups to which I belong is tremendously important to me wherever I go.

Appropriately, both this point and the next can win a school three points each.

The next being an equivalent to the Gay-Straight Alliance, whether it’s in the form of Pride, Spectrum, GLAM, OutLaw, or many of the others I’ve found, including one interesting group called oSTEM–specifically for students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Can you talk about a more perfectly-tailored group than that?

No matter, any group will be enough to give me that sense of community I’m looking for, and hopefully an opportunity to be in a position to actively pursue equal rights.

For both of these categories, two schools have stood out especially. First is Virginia Tech. The Blacksburg JCC is only a mile from campus, and not only do they offer religious services, they also have a religious school that is staffed by students from VT’s Hillel–and ironically, they use the same ISJL curriculum that we use here. Not only is it a perfect opportunity for religious fulfillment, it’s also a great job prospect.

Next is NC State, which is only a short drive or bus ride from the headquarters of Equality NC, an activist group aiming to bring equal rights to all North Carolinians, a group that I’ve worked alongside at a distance as president of the GSA. I’d love to be able to volunteer there, and not only that, it’d give me invaluable political experiences if that is a route I decide to follow.

Following these is the availability of on-campus political groups, which could be a great resource if I decide to become involved in politics. Earning up to three points, for various different groups, I’ve decided this category should in fact award none. Yes, they could be great, but I haven’t been involved with GTCC’s political science group too much, and there’s always classmates to hang out with if I take a second major or minor in the field. But to give to schools what I won’t actively use? It’s like owning a car without having the keys.

Similarly, I’ve been giving out an extra point to colleges that have green or environmentally-focused groups. I care deeply for our planet and conservation is something dear to me. Likewise, being able to be involved in such a group makes sense, but the more I think about it, the less I think I’d really be active in any group like that. Being green and earth-friendly is a personal decision, something I do with myself. Sure, knowing a college believes in sustainability is a good thing, but student interest does not guarantee university interests, and vice versa. Just like with poli-sci groups, if I’m not going to go to them, why ask for them at all?

Next, and pretty important I feel, is leadership development programs. Yes, I might not take a role as a leader in two or three or even one student organizations, but leadership has become and will remain something that’s important to me and important to my character. Just because I’m not in a position of leadership doesn’t mean I’m still not a leader, and I’d like to be able to continue to hone my skills and learn new ones while I finish my college education. Knowing that the school readily offers such programming is a big plus, one that can earn a school two points, which seems a little standard now that I start thinking of it…

If I cut back on those I don’t like, and then just count what I’ve got, these fourteen points become six, or easily three if I just grant one for each point. Then again, student involvement is important to me, and I feel that changing a school’s outlook by only three points seems a little too inconsequential to reflect how deeply I feel about these aspects of where I’m transferring to. So I shall keep them each at two, because they’re worth it.

Lastly I’ve also been keeping a tally of “bonus” points that I don’t really factor into each college’s grades for other student clubs that sound interesting–like various martial arts, archery, dancing, yoga, meditation, medieval, or other groups that I would find interest in.

But some schools have over fifteen.

My life is not that expansive to commit to all of these, even just as bare members. So yesterday and today I’ve been looking at some of them more closely deciding which groups I’ll consider worthwhile, those that actually matter to me, those that I would actually commit to. Such as a creative writers group, or the options to learn certain martial arts, like Parkour, Aikido, or possibly Judo. Other groups I’d keep an open eye for are groups for yoga, Reiki, or math, things that could benefit me should I find I have the time to belong to them.

And after considering it a bit, I think it’d be fair enough to say if they have at least two groups I could find some extra interest in, I’ll give them an extra point, just for their potential to please.

This, of course, brings me to the end. It has been an enlightening journey, and hopefully one that–after I re-tally all the schools I’ve been looking at–will help me disarm a few more to make my continuing search easier.

In any case, I have valued the feedback each of you have given me and I thank you all for the dedication and kindness you have shown to me by reading this entire series.

And should any of you have picked up on my allusions to Shakespeare in the titles, treat yourself to a cookie. Not only are you smart, you’re wicked clever, too.

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One thought on “If Students Be the Food of Life, Lead On

  1. I myself am planning on starting the study and practice of Aikido at a local Dojo.

    The philosophy and history behind Aikido and its many siblings and parents are fascinating, to say the least. Sadly and shamefully I currently have no time for an intensive study of eastern philosophy, nor for the practical applications thereof. ( e.g. Meditation.)

    If all goes as planned I will be able to mirror my academic progress with my progress of this martial art, meaning I will be able to spend a few years in Japan expanding my practice as a student at an “authentic” Dojo after having done a research master. This is years away however, and we know and appreciate how things change over time — and how time changes things.

    As it stands I am pre-emptively conditioning my body to be in a proper state of fitness, and I will continue to do so for at least several months before making my final decision on the matter.

    Note: wicked clever? I feel like I should be plotting a scheme of some sort.

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