As you prepare to walk across the stage in a few weeks, you may be thinking about all of the papers, notes, and textbooks you’re going to get rid of now that you will no longer be in school.
But just because you are about to leave the classroom setting behind (unless you are planning to attend graduate school), doesn’t mean that the learning should stop when you have that diploma in hand.
As you enter this next stage of life, it’s important to remember that education is everywhere. By committing yourself to lifelong learning, you are choosing to intentionally seek out opportunities for growth and development, beyond what you learned at UMBC.
Lifelong learning can come in a variety of forms, including, but not limited to:
•Meeting and engaging with new people
•Getting involved in your community
•Reading and keeping up to speed on current events
•New career opportunities
Just as you had to learn to be more self-directed when you transitioned from high school to college, the same is true when transitioning from a college student to a lifelong learner. There won’t be anyone telling you that you have to pursue new opportunities. Instead, this type of learning is voluntary and requires you to be proactive.
Take your first job out of college, for example. Sure, you’ve gained a lot of knowledge in your academic courses that has hopefully prepared you for the more “operational” aspects of your job. But now that you are in a real-world setting, there will be other skills you will need to learn, such as how to manage interpersonal dynamics within your work team, how to handle your first conflict with a customer, or how to navigate being the youngest employee in your office.
To help with some of these new learning experiences, you can seek out professional development opportunities within your workplace, including conferences, workshops, mentoring programs, or leadership trainings.
Committing yourself to the learning process after you leave UMBC will not only help you stay competitive in your career field, but it can also help mix up your daily routine. If you find yourself simply “going through life’s motions,” engaging in a new learning opportunity can add new value to your days.
For example, a lot of students think that because they are no longer in college and participating in student organizations that they can’t continue on with some of their interests. In reality, there are countless organizations and meet up groups that you can get involved in without being a student. Were you an active member of the Irish Dance and Music Club at UMBC? A simple Google search will direct you to a variety of Irish dance schools in Baltimore where you can continue to take lessons. Did you join the Chess Club your freshman year, but couldn’t continue participating because your classes kept you too busy? Meetup.com can connect you with other people in the area who are looking to get together and play.
Finally, stay in touch with your UMBC peers! As the Class of 2016 prepares to travel down different paths, you will have so much to offer one another as you gain further knowledge and life experiences. By staying in touch with former classmates, you may encounter opportunities to collaborate in work or network in a field different than your own. As a matter of fact, you can join the Chapter of Young Alumni for free, via the UMBC Alumni Association, which offers chances for networking and fun throughout the year.
Similar to your time in college, life after college is what you make of it. Don’t close yourself off to the countless experiences that are waiting for you outside of UMBC. Keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to continue the learning journey. You won’t regret it!
Why You Should Strive to be a Lifelong Learner by Matt Mayberry
8 Ways to Continue Learning After College by Jessica Jaksich via Her Campus