Since my first semester at Trinity, student leadership and extracurricular activity have been a huge part of my experience. It’s similar for so many students here. Along with schoolwork and social lives, we balance a position on student government, as an RA, or on the Chapel team. Or perhaps you’re a Spartan, play on the Bombers, or do intramural sports. You live in dorms, in a pod, in an apartment, or you’re a part of a collegium.

Whatever we’re doing outside of schoolwork, there comes a point for us all, every year, where we just can’t handle the time commitments. You feel as if you can’t deal with it all, that something is going to suffer. Your grades will fall, or your team will start to forget what your face looks like. You’ll stay up way too late, and sleep through class in the morning. You’ll realize that something needs to bend, and school comes before everything else, right? “Sorry, guys, can’t come tonight. I’m swamped right now.”

But I urge you: don’t stop. Persevere. There’s a light at the end of the Trinity tunnel, and it’s the rest of your life. Which is just a much larger tunnel. But here’s a small secret with big implications: in that larger tunnel, it’s not all about your grades. Not about your GPA. Not about that extra credit assignment, a better letter grade, or not quite making it over 80% on your midterm.

It’s about the experience. Not just the type of experience you put on your resume, either, like that lame job in high school at that one fast food place – it’s real life experience. The kind you get from experiencing things, and the people you meet along the way.

Putting on campus-wide events, making it to the playoffs, creating a student newspaper every two weeks – these aren’t just side quests in the great big video game of life. They’re the reason your future employers will look at your resume twice, or the reason you’ll put your future kids into hockey, or the reason you will eventually write that book and become a famous author.

The people you meet here will be your spouse, your best man, your sisters in everything but blood. Your lifelong friends.

They’ll teach you skills that you don’t learn from homework and midterms and assignments. They teach you how to work as a team, how to communicate well with others, how to win, how to lose, how to have your heart broken, how to fall in love.

There’s so much life to be had outside of textbooks, but we’re spending much of our most formative years with our heads buried in them.

I’m not saying you should fail everything, or not do that paper early. Not saying to switch majors, switch schools, or drop out. Absolutely, stay here, get your degree, finish strong.

I’m saying that your potential future employer will see a sheet of paper – in a stack of many, many other similar ones – with your name, degree, and past experience on it, and they’ll give your degree one quick look, and that’s it. They’ll be mostly looking at your experiences. They’ll be looking for that special thing, that unique skill, experience, or team that you were a part of, that makes you the person you are.

That kind of thing isn’t taught in a classroom.