Conceptual vs. practical learning

Grand Valley State University is hosting its first career fair of the school year next week. This provides students a great opportunity to practice their interviewing skills if they’re not looking for an internship or job, and allows students who are to explore their options.

But, even though this career-building opportunity is right at GVSU’s backdoor, many students will choose not to take it. For many students, this missed chance is due to the misconception that learning about something in concept is the same as practical knowledge and actually doing and trying it for oneself.

This misconception is visible when looking at student habits and how they choose to spend their time. For instance, instead of stepping outside of their rooms and experiencing the campus life and atmosphere, they choose to spend the evening on their computer or in front of some other type of asocial activity. Instead of getting involved in clubs that could give them real-life experience in their area of study, they focus on classwork with concepts on a page.

Students, the Lanthorn staff is not telling you that your schoolwork is not important. It is! You need to pass your classes to graduate, obviously. The better question is, would you take even an hour break from studying and doing homework to get involved in an activity that would give you real-life experience? Because every employer will tell you that actual experience looks better on a resume than a 4.0 GPA, which many employers won’t even look at.

If the club that you’re involved in is going to visit a business that could turn into your future workplace, why wouldn’t you go? It’s not because there isn’t enough time because all students can make the time to do things that they want to do, like meet with friends or go to the movies. While making this time may require sacrifices, it would be worth it to help your future self.

So, if you’re going to be a vet, why not volunteer at an animal shelter? Going to be a teacher? Help at the tutoring center or volunteer at events where you’ll be interacting with the age group you want to teach. Want to be a writer or reporter? Then why aren’t you working at the Lanthorn?

Students should attend the career fair because while you might have theoretical knowledge of how to talk to employers and what you want to say, in practice you may not be as prepared as you think. As the common phrase goes, “practice makes perfect” – while knowledge is good, knowledge from experience is better.