Presence comes in many forms and it really does pay off. Now, when I talk about presence I don’t necessarily mean just in lectures and seminars (which is also very important). What I mean by being present in addition to your classes is within the Brock and the St. Catharines community. This includes different Brock clubs, and attending events at the school or in the city. This could even mean going out to different parties in different places with different groups of people – there are endless opportunities, especially in university. Something that people don’t always do is immerse themselves within a community. However, in university it’s one of the smartest things you can actively do.
It takes a lot of different people to make up a university. There is a Dean, multiple professors and coordinators for different organizations and plenty more. Most importantly, there are the students. The students of a university are its core; without the students, it isn’t a university. Because of the mix of so many different people, there are only a few things that they all share as a common denominator, which are generally their classes and what they do in their spare time like taking part in different clubs, unions or going to different events within the community.
There are a lot of people that I’ve met that get lazy throughout the year and don’t do anything. Whether it be a class that they don’t really want to go to, or an event that they’re too tired to attend – sometimes they just don’t go because they don’t have to. In a lecture hall, not everyone will notice one person that isn’t there, and at an event it’s even harder to be missed. But by doing this, you’re closing a lot of doors and missing out on a lot of possibilities.
In terms of clubs, events and get-togethers, it’s important to be present to build a network. The one thing that you’ll get at any of these kinds of social gatherings is a mass group of people, all different people who may never be in the same room with one another ever again. This is what makes it unique and even kind of special. Everyone has different reasons for doing what they want to do, and they also have different reasons for going places they want to go. No matter the reason, the strangers you see in a crowded room are most probably never going to cross your path again (in most cases). This is why it’s important to network.
For anyone that has seen The Social Network or has heard of Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to success, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Networking can get you where you want to go, when you want to get there, especially for university students. For most of the students at Brock University, this is the first time we’ve been on our own, setting our own rules and doing what we really want to do. For most of us, our parents aren’t around to nag us to do something, to set curfews, or even tell you when dinner’s ready – we’re left with huge responsibilities and a high level of independence. This is the time when we really grow into ourselves and find out who we are. We do this through trying different things, meeting different people – again, the opportunities are endless. But what gets us even more opportunities is networking. Getting closer to your professors, other students, anybody that can help you succeed in life; it really helps you expand as a person. It’s all about knowing the right people. Not only can networking benefit you socially, but it’s also a way of investing in human capital.
Now in terms of being present in class – that one’s pretty obvious. There are things a professor can teach you that a textbook can’t. Lectures are also held for a reason; not everything you can learn will be in writing, some of it can be verbally spoken by the professor too, and if you’re not there to hear it, it’s something you don’t get to learn. Even if the entire course material is written in a textbook, professors can and will break it down and simplify it for the students to make it easier for them, but again – it’ll only be simplified if you go to class. Apart from that, attending class lets the professor become familiar with your face. Even if it is a large room with hundreds of people, they can probably still tell who has been around the entire semester and who comes in every now and then – don’t underestimate them. Seminars are another good opportunity to get to know your professor or TA more and vice versa. Even if those reasons aren’t good enough to make you want to attend your classes, think about it this way – there’s a better chance of you doing well by attending class, than by skipping.
For seminars and tutorials, attendance is everything – literally. A percentage of your mark in those are based solely on your attendance to them, and the mark you get in your seminars and tutorials are another percentage of your grade for the class altogether. If you can get a few extra marks just for showing up to class…why not? It doesn’t make sense not to if you really think about it. Whatever you’re blowing class off for can wait until after your exams are over.
All in all, presence is a really vital thing. It opens many doors for everyone and it gets you a step closer to succeeding in whatever it is you want to succeed in. So now that the year is starting, make sure to go to all the events Brock has to offer this year, get involved, talk to your professors and meet new people because it will be worth it.