Life outside the classroom, a priceless experience

By Taylor C. Snow

“What are we spending all this money for you to go to college for?”

Meet my dad: a scholarly man who attended school in one capacity or another from age five to 63. That’s one of his favorite questions to ask me as we close out our phone conversations, after discussing my classes and grades. He knows I’ve never been a go-getter in the classroom, and that’s always been a concern. I’ve gotten by fine, never have had a horrible grade, but he can always sense my lack of motivation as I inform him of my poor studying habits and my self-induced disease of procrastination.

But I always tell him, that’s not what college is all about. Sure, I’m ultimately here to receive my diploma, but the experiences in between — outside the classroom — make the priceless moments, give you life-lasting memories and teach you how to live life to its fullest capacity.

I arrived to Amherst in the fall of my sophomore year after transferring from the University of New Hampshire, embarking on a new path in the field of journalism. On my first day of class, Herb Scribner, the then-sports editor of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian stood up and encouraged people to come down to the Campus Center basement and get involved with the school paper, claiming it will provide us with invaluable knowledge and open up great opportunities for those seeking a career in journalism. I had never heard of the Collegian — heck, I had never even written a newspaper article before — but I thought,

“What the hell, why not?”

I went down that afternoon and was greeted by a windowless, dusty office with missing ceiling tiles, a moldy refrigerator, blinding fluorescent lights and the faint odor of cat vomit. To this day, I will never forget the glee I felt as I cast my eyes on that beautiful abode.

I immediately got involved, writing and producing multimedia, and quickly found it to be a field of interest that motivated me and gave me the drive that I did not have in the classroom. I soon discovered that I was learning far more from the hands-on experiences and picking the brains of my colleagues, than I was in my classes, and that’s when I began to devote most of my free time to the Collegian.

“So I’m paying tens of thousands of dollars per year for you to work at a school newspaper?”

No dad, there’s more.

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