Make the effort to connect with professors

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There are a lot of ways to learn: you can observe, experience, memorize and study. You can see, hear, smell, taste or touch. The ways our brains register and interpret information is endless and amazing. On a small campus like DePauw, we have an all-access pass.
Our classes are small, student organizations are welcoming, athletic teams are open and most importantly, our professors and mentors are easily accessible. Learning facts, equations and theories from textbooks is important. You need it to pass tests, and depending on your career goals, it could serve you well down the road. But I have found my most valuable learning experiences have taken place outside of the classroom.
At DePauw, we have a unique opportunity to understand our professors as people. This understanding transcends their area of expertise and allows them to teach us some pretty valuable lessons about life. In my four years at this school, I have been lucky enough to develop several friendships with professors outside the classroom. Their guidance has been a significant part of my personal development here.
These friendships can take various forms. Sometimes, it's just dropping in during office hours to catch up, discuss current events and generally enjoy conversation. Sometimes, they help us identify our interests and provide avenues to pursue those interests.
Frankly, they have been there before. They've been students; they understand a lot of what we go through here. Most of their professional lives are spent dealing with people like us, kids, transitioning to purpose-seeking adults. They have a good idea of how our brains work and even if they don't, the good ones are willing to learn. They want to help. So make an effort to connect to the adults on this campus on a more meaningful level. Sure, your professors and coaches are here to help you through the day-to-day grind of college life, put they can also enhance your experience in many ways if you let them. Most of my favorite professors at DePauw have been open about their own life stories: how they grew up and what led them to where they are now. Usually it's comforting to hear it from someone who has done it all before.
Take advantage of the opportunity you have. There are members of the faculty here at DePauw who not only share many of your interests, but also have made careers out of them. They teach because they care, at least the good ones do, and luckily DePauw has surrounded us with a bunch of the good ones. So don't be afraid to drop in unannounced to their office, grab a drink and reminisce with a Winter Term professor, pick their brains and cultivate meaningful relationships. There are plenty more to these men and women than the readings and problem sets they assign. Some great stories and inspiring insights are waiting just under the surface. You made a conscious decision to come to a small school, and you don't get a lot of time here so make sure you take all you can from this place and from those who will remain after life leads you away.

- Droddy is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind. majoring in communication.