Far too often, college students are overly concerned with three little letters that purport to reflect their intellect and claim to be a barometer of their undergraduate success: G, P and A. While a grade point average can signal to employers the ability to perform at a high level, and a bad GPA can be disastrous if your intentions are to go to Yale or Harvard Law, the obsession with GPA is more hurtful than it is helpful.
Too many students are distracted by the notion that they need to do well on tests and papers in order to succeed in college. Very little is ever said about the vast and innumerable educational opportunities on college campuses across the country that have nothing to do with a lecture hall, a problem set, or a midterm examination.
To tap into these experiences, oftentimes you need not look farther than the man or woman who stands at the front of that lecture hall and who gives you those dastardly grades: your professor.
Where to Find Your Professor
The college campus is like no other place in the world. It is a community of learners and teachers who invest their time (and money) in the idea that knowledge is worthwhile. Office hours are an oft-overlooked gem of the college experience. The brightest minds in the nation literally schedule times for students to come in and chat. Even if you don’t want to discuss their particular subject matter of interest, these professors have their doors open to the next generation of students, who might one day sit in offices at other universities and open their doors in return.
Utilize these office hours outside of class. How often will you get to develop a relationship with someone in the field that you’re interested in where they make specific time for you? Professors can be brash and unwelcoming, but those uncomfortable experiences are part and parcel of the learning experience at large. Those who do not engage with the professors at their college or university past the nominal classroom or lecture hall interactions, are not only wasting their tuition dollars, but are depriving themselves of a learning opportunity that transcends textbooks and PowerPoint presentations.
Take Advantage of the Knowledge Available To You
Professors are all united by a common goal: to spread knowledge and to do that, they need students and their interest. Without students, professors are just spilling their knowledge on the floor. Students are the vessels that catch it all and carry it on into the future. What many students do not appreciate is that the stream of knowledge is not just accessible in the classroom setting. It is constantly flowing and waiting to be drawn from, whether it be at office hours or at an extracurricular lecture series.
College is a time to have fun, to meet friends, and to grow, but it is also the time to take advantage of the opportunities for knowledge that are always around you–opportunities that have nothing at all to do with those pesky three letters, GPA. Learn from all of your surroundings, not just textbooks and tests.