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This is why learning outside the classroom is a priority during the university years

College can offer you an education beyond the classroom if you let it. At the BrainGain Magazine Knowledge Symposium 2019, expert educators and leaders offered students advice on how to make the most of college beyond the books and tests.
BY Anandamayee Singh |   17-04-2019

BrainGain Magazine

College paves the path to a successful and prosperous future, but often, the pressure of performing well in college makes students lose sight of other aspects of college life. In a session on ‘Things you need to do in college other than studying’  held during the BrainGain Magazine Knowledge Symposium, experts including Jerry Hultin, former Under Secretary of the U.S. Navy, P. K. Agarwal,  Regional Dean and Founding CEO of Northeastern University Silicon Valley, and Managing Director of StartAD at NYU Abu Dhabi - Ramesh Jagannathan, emphasised the importance of holistic development for a university student.

Mr. Hultin kicked off the discussion with some advice for incoming freshmen. He suggested that students create a list of objectives for their first year of college and warned them that accomplishing these objectives would require overcoming many obstacles. Mr. Agarwal shared his view on the differences between college and high school. “When you go to college, you have to figure out your own schedule, you have to figure out what classes to take. The most important thing to learn before going to college is how to cook , otherwise you will be in a new environment and face the dilemma of surviving”.  

Hultin and Agarwal
Mr. Jerry Hultin and Mr. P. K. Agarwal at the BrainGain Magazine - Knowledge Symposium in 2019

Mr. Jagannathan added that “going to college is not just about getting an education. It’s about how to become a grown up, and you’re going to do learn that with co-students and friends from various countries and various societies. It’s going to be very exciting and at the same time it’s going to be very challenging.”

 To make the most of university, experts agreed that the following activities should be on every student’s priority list: being in contact with family, completing an internship, learning new skills, exploring and travelling, making new friends and memories, being part of university clubs and societies, and indulging in sports and physical activities.

Mr. Jagannathan talked about the importance of sports for NYU Abu Dhabi students where according to university rules students must opt for at least two sports along with their studies in the first semester. This makes an observable difference to their mental and physical health. He further added that joining clubs allows new students to meet others with similar interests.

What is the importance of holistic development in a world filled with practical considerations like jobs, salaries, and career growth? And in the context of the rapidly evolving world of work?

Hultin and Agarwal
Mr. Ramesh Jagannathan at the BrainGain Magazine - Knowledge Symposium in 2019

In the context of AI and its impact on the job market, Mr. Agarwal emphasized the need for students to be flexible and open-minded in college. "You should ask yourself some questions about whether these jobs [you aspire to] will exist in the next 25 years or not. The past is a great guide but it is not the predictor of the next 40 years of your professional life." Herein lies the importance of well-rounded development rather than narrow academic excellence. "It’s important to have an open mind. The courses and grades are important, but so are your friends and seniors as all of them have different experiences, expectations and aspirations."  And this network will often foster learning just as much as the classroom does for the average student.

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