Columns Opinion

Commuters should take on-campus involvement more seriously

Students at Butler Plaza were invited to pledge to "end the stigma" of mental illness. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

From classroom participation to events around campus, UH holds many opportunities for students to participate and take advantage of the college experience. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

On-campus involvement at UH is almost non-existent, and commuters play a role in that.

I’m also a commuter traveling from the Galleria to campus every day. I know some students that commute from as far out as Waller. That said, what is the incentive for students to stay on campus after class? Hours of traffic? I think not.

What students don’t realize is that being on campus is essential to success in the classroom as well as with finding a job after graduation.

Your presence is important

Keep in mind that there is a major difference in “passing” classes or getting a “decent” job. There are also outliers in this trend, but, for the most part, the best companies out there hire those who are academically successful and involved on campus.

There are students who never show up for class, but resign themselves to submitting online homework because attendance is not mandatory.  This is one of the most detrimental things for your academic career.

By not showing up to class, you will miss the essential student-professor interaction that has the potential to greatly help you down the road.

What happens when you need a letter of recommendation for graduate school or a job? If the professor doesn’t know you, they cannot write the letter. Additionally, when it’s time for group projects, you will likely not know anyone and will be in the group that is missing a member or two.

Has anyone ever had a group member for a project who does literally nothing because they refused to meet on campus to work with the group? I know I have.

While there is current technology like Skype and Groupme that allows us to work together from a distance, there is no direct substitute for working in person.  When students meet together and work on a project, a lot of the discussion and brainstorming are based off of participation and body language.

When meeting in person, it is simply more efficient and effective for the specific project you all may be working on.

Student organizations

Moving past the classroom, refusing to stay on campus because of the commute can hurt your career. Looking at Houston alone, being the country’s fourth-biggest city and having millions of people, the job market is competitive.

It is no longer marketable to have solely good grades. You need to get involved on campus to get that ‘dream’ job.

An article featured on the job hosting site discusses the most important things for college students to apply to get a job after graduation. The list mentions networking, using the campus’ career services office and sticking to the internet.

In order to network, students must be face-to-face with other students, faculty and professionals on campus during events. There are career fairs, student organizations and faculty advising sessions that all enhance networking with like-minded peers. Unfortunately, since commuters not wanting to hang out on campus, these events often have scarce attendance.

UH has a portal on Blackboard dedicated to student organizations, which can be social, professional or academic. For example, there is the Economics Society that is geared toward economics students to develop themselves professionally, academically and socially.

There is also the International Student Organization, which is meant to aid international students with the same processes while overcoming the difficulty of adjusting to a new country.

These organizations exist for students and typically meet after classes or at night. Unfortunately, attendance is also light because students do not want to stay after, sit in traffic or get home after 9 p.m.

I must encourage commuters to accept the fact that this is necessary.

Involvement with benefits

UH may be a ‘commuter’ school, but it is not Houston Community College. This is a Tier One University with massive resources, and plenty of events going on all day long.

It is our responsibility as students to develop a contagious culture and pride that can scream “University of Houston!” around the world.

If this plea doesn’t sink in, consider this:  Each student pays a tuition to have access to everything that this University has to offer. You are doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of them in your brief time attending UH.

Companies are not looking for students who drive to school, go to class and go home, which has the equivalent of a worker who will simply clock in, work their eight hours and go home.

Companies are looking for students who get involved, who take on leadership and initiative and, most importantly, have pride in themselves.

Opinion columnist John Brucato is a economic senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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