Why students should be engaging outside the classroom

Why students should be engaging outside the classroom

At any “good” university, the academics are going to be rigorous, as they should be. When students are appropriately challenged in the classroom, though, it can be difficult for them to fit in extracurricular activities, including ones that may actually enhance their academic learning, provide them with real-world experience, build their resumes and ultimately give them a leg up in the job market. In fact, extracurricular activities like internships, research and study abroad may even prove to be more valuable for students in the long term than countless hours spent studying and attending classes.

The Grand Valley State University administration understands the importance of student engagement outside the classroom. With that in mind, GVSU provides students with the opportunity to grow not only academically, but also individually, by giving students a variety of outlets to advance their personal and professional goals, all while continuing their collegiate journey:


Besides work in the classroom, GVSU offers a multitude of opportunities for students to get involved in research in the community and beyond. Most recently, a group of engineering students created a device that was heavily researched on campus and then tested at the NASA headquarters in Houston. Research such as this allows students to push beyond what they learn in textbooks and lectures and apply their skills to real-life situations where they have to work as a team and problem solve. Research is available in almost every degree program on campus, and many professors have research projects that they recruit students to work on with them. Annually, GVSU hosts Student Scholars Day, where students showcase their various projects and work, including poster projects, exhibits, performances and panel discussions. 

Study Abroad

Arguably one of the most valuable opportunities GVSU offers students is study abroad, for both undergraduate and graduate programs, giving students the chance to explore the world while gaining valuable life experience and enhancing their intercultural competence. A lot of students take advantage of this opportunity because it sets them apart from their peers while post-college job hunting. Another influential factor in choosing to take part in one of these programs is getting to travel and experience new things. Sitting in a classroom and looking out at the same scenery every day can get repetitive and boring. When studying abroad, students are immersed in another nation’s culture, and through their exploration, they also experience immense personal development. For more information on GVSU’s study abroad programs, visit www.gvsu.edu/studyabroad/.


One of the biggest factors that can set someone apart from the crowd in a future job search is whether or not they have done an internship. If a future employer sees that a graduating student has successfully completed an internship in a related field, they will know the applicant already has relevant skills, likely won’t have to be trained from scratch and has a good work ethic. College is the perfect time to do an internship, too. Oftentimes, students can receive class credit for completing an internship, and then they have a big resume booster by the time they graduate. The GVSU Career Center staff can help students look for internships and also review resumes, conduct mock interviews and answer other career-related questions students might have.