College offers more than just an educational opportunity. In the early weeks of fall I find myself repeating the same advice over and over.    College is your chance to find yourself in so many different ways. In particular, college offers students many student-run organizations and clubs to check out and become a part of.

As a liberal arts college, Keene State College offers a variety of classes that could alter your outlook in ways you never before thought possible. The intention of a liberal arts education is to provide more general knowledge and to develop general intellectual capacities such as reason and judgement, rather than to train students in professional or vocational skills. My recommendation is that while attending Keene State (or any college for that matter) you challenge yourself to try something new that interests you. You might find that as a senior you are still involved with the debate club or dance team even though during your first-year you never thought it was going to be part of your journey. During the early weeks of any semester the various student-run organizations and clubs on campus are just starting back up from break. This is a perfect time and opportunity to go check out that club you were thinking of joining. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is rarely too late in the semester to join a club, so if you are late to start do not be discouraged. I am simply stating that the early weeks of the semester are likely to be the best for joining new groups because lots of other people will be joining at the same time. This is a great time to get acclimated, meet members of the group and start participating.

School is meant to teach us both book smarts and life smarts. What I mean by this is that while you are in the classroom gaining knowledge about a subject, you should take away lessons that can enhance your own life experiences. College is great because we pick our courses and therefore we can study what we like. My belief is that when studying something we love it is likely to be something we are comfortable with and probably something we already understand to an extent. In order to open your mind in unexpected ways it is necessary to go beyond that comfort zone and take a class in a subject you have never studied or join a club for an activity you have never tried but always thought sounded cool. This is when we really learn. It is in the class that we are unfamiliar with that we are forced to think differently. When studying topics we never thought about we are gifted with a new perspective. These are the times we flourish, when we are vulnerable as learners, when it is not easy and when we are truly expanding our minds into new directions.

I remember a few people asked me if I was going to join WKNH before I finally built the courage to sign up. During my first semester as a transfer student I did not push myself to try any clubs. I was concerned that I would be overwhelmed. Looking back I know I was just too nervous to take on learning a whole new hobby. Hosting a radio show seemed like a dream unattainable back in my high school days, but here on a college campus things are different and the day-to-day opportunities we are presented with are ample. This is my third semester hosting Arline Live in Keene and I would not sacrifice my airtime for anything. Streaming playlists that I have chosen over the airwaves of Keene has become one of my most favorite pass times. It required some learning. It has taken practice and experience to become comfortable, but it is a new skill set that was once just a “what if? There are many opportunities to expand your interests within the classroom. For example, I took two semesters of singing lessons that counted for credits. I was able to explore a new hobby with one-on-one lessons as well as rack up more credits for my transcript. Being that Keene State is a liberal arts college the classes offered truly allow you to explore a variety of interests while heightening your education in such subjects. Last spring I took an American Studies course on The Beatles and earned credit for delving deeper into a love of a legendary music group. The class approached a classic musical influence that we are all familiar with through an analytical lens. The class taught me a lot more about band members Paul, John, George and Ringo, but what it really taught me is that there is always much more to understand than just what is at the surface. An avenue often forgotten when studying a technical field is art. There are plenty of art classes here at Keene State like drawing, ceramics, film or photography. There is a medium for everyone to explore.

Specifically I recall telling people how excited I was to take a photography class. Although it is my last semester, I am finally in a photography class and I could not be more excited about it. While my schedule is already packed with classes I took on the fifth to explore a medium that I have always felt curious about. There are a lot of ways for you to get involved on campus and I can assure you that getting involved will enhance your college experience in ways that will carry into your life beyond. Participating in clubs and on campus activities has been a way for me to shape and mold my own life in new ways I never expected while meeting new people who share my interests. Following graduation I am sure to carry my hobbies and skills acquired while practicing them into life after college. I encourage you to do the same.

Arline Votruba can be contacted at avotruba@kscequinox.com