I had the privilege of participating in a speech evaluation contest last tonight, hosted by The New Voice, the New School’s chapter of Toastmasters International. It was a great experience, and I plan to continue my involvement with the New Voice. Yes I have plenty of work to do as a full-time student – especially with the policy lab – but attending Toastmasters is important too. See, to me graduate school is about than just getting a piece of paper to bolster one’s credentials. It’s about more than taking certain classes to broaden your skills, or networking to boost your career potential. Graduate school is about the whole picture. With a wealth of extracurricular activities available, graduate school has so much more to offer than just school.
Now I know this isn’t undergrad. A person doesn’t come to grad school to join a bunch of clubs and go on field trips – you come to get a professional degree. But the opportunities here can really aid one’s growth both professionally and personally. Almost every week there is an exciting panel discussion or lecture or some other event going on that I’d love to attend. And one of my goals as a graduate student is to get to as many of them as I can. That’s why I chose to back go to school full-time, because I want to get the full experience. I want to debate and discuss with classmates. I want to hear from noted experts and come away with a new point of view or insight. I want to grow and challenge myself in ways that I might not be able to if I was working full-time.
As any part-time or otherwise working student can tell you, what I desire is somewhat of a luxury. Not everyone has the liberty to be a full-time student. Even as a full-time student, I’m not able to get to as many events as I’d like due to all of the schoolwork on my plate. Academic success is certainly the first priority of my grad school endeavors, but what a shame it would be if I didn’t take advantage of everything being a student has to offer (such as writing on this blog!). After all, you never know when the next lecture, activity, or event you attend will provide you with your next professional contact. Like anything in life, grad school can be what you make it. I definitely recommend getting the whole picture.