Experiential learning plays a huge role in the preparation and training of a Navy SEAL (like the 70 foot rappelling challenge depicted here). “Learning by doing” is the primary way these exclusively selected candidates prepare for diverse missions that could take them anywhere in the world to perform a wide variety of special operations at a moment’s notice. How do land navigation, cold weather training in Kodiak, Alaska, medical, maritime operations, evasion and escape exercises sound to you?
Indeed, Navy SEALs learn, prepare and gain confidence through these elaborate exercises and simulations. We here at Extra Credit are eager to recruit you to apply what you have learned in the classroom in real world settings, too. Experiential learning encourages students to use their skills, knowledge, creativity and other personal attributes in work-related and professional settings, which can be a huge “difference maker” for savvy UMBC students. Sometimes students wait until their junior and senior years to pursue more formal versions of experiential learning (via internships and co-op). In actuality, forward-thinking students can begin applying what they know and what they can do much, much earlier.
Here is an example and some ideas:
Let’s say you are a freshman English or Media and Communication Studies major and love to write. Someday, you hope to write for a living but are not exactly sure how and in what specific field career.
Starting TODAY – you could:
• Contact fellow students at The Retriever Weekly – UMBC’s student newspaper--and ask about becoming a reporter and writing articles and getting published. With actual writing examples in your start-up portfolio and your resume reflecting “writing for real audiences” in your freshman year, you would be off to a good start!
• Create and contribute original writing though a submission to Bartleby– UMBC’s Creative Arts Journal. Perhaps along with making a submission, you might also check out some of the staff positions available for students with interests in writing and the arts. Once again, experience writing, editing and publishing is right here on campus – within reach and available for students with initiative (like you).
• Consider becoming a blogger for the UMBC “USDemocrazy” blog that produces pithy and witty commentary on public affairs for the high school set. That is not only experiential learning, but one of the most fun jobs on campus.
• Practice writing for the web by signing up to be the Webmaster for a major campus organization or find a campus job that includes website writing.
• Serve in one of a dozen school-and community-based settings where you can strengthen the writing and reading skills of a young person while deepening your understanding of educational achievement gaps and your own sense of self through a variety of written reflective activities (e.g., journaling, goal and expectation-setting). For more details, visit the Shriver Center website.
Finding ways to apply “classroom knowledge” in real world ways, UMBC students develop characteristics and skills which future employers and graduate schools absolutely love! Here are just a few examples of what you gain by completing experiential learning activities:
• You’ll prove you can take initiative.
• You’ll prove that you can successfully apply for positions and get hired to do things.
• You’ll work with others to help an organization serve its customers or constituents.
• You’ll establish working relationships with colleagues and supervisors.
• You’ll produce examples of work, skills and outcomes that can be presented with pride on resumes, cover letters, applications and referenced in interviews. (Congratulations!)
Getting involved and taking action within the experiential learning arena helps students to build career momentum and provides you with immediate feedback on your short and long term career goals and objectives. Part-time jobs, volunteering, job-shadowing, and other creative ways to explore majors and careers “experientially” are all recommended and can be discussed further with your academic advisor or a career counselor in the Career Services Center.
EXTRA-CREDIT DISCUSSION QUESTION:
What experiential learning opportunities are you planning for this spring and summer?