It’s a running joke in The Pendulum office that if staff members were paid by the hour, they’d be some of the most well paid students on Elon’s campus.
In reality, many of us devote 40 or more hours a week to what equates to a full-time job, while also balancing separate academic and social lives.
We don’t do it for fame or glory. We obviously don’t do it for the money. Anyone who enters the profession of journalism should know better than to work for either of those fleeting desires. We do it for our audience. And, as student journalists, we do it for the experience.
This week, Elon students participated in the cringe-worthy, hated necessity of registering for fall semester classes. Anyone who has even glanced at their degree audit knows Elon strictly monitors the number of credit hours that can be completed each semester.
But while students may not be allowed to devote their time to more than four or five courses per semester, nothing is stopping them from pouring themselves into extracurricular organizations. And nothing should.
I’m not alone when I admit that the vast majority of my time goes to my interests outside of the classroom, largely, of course, The Pendulum. Elon students are known for overextending themselves and thinking they can juggle it all – just consider the number of groups you naively joined at your first Org. Fair.
But even when I don’t know how I’m going to keep my sanity while also keeping up with my schedule, I remind myself that the real-world experience and knowledge I’m gaining simply cannot be replaced.
It’s easy to learn about ethical considerations within the comfortable walls of McEwen. But when an ethical conundrum or angry source comes marching through the door of our office, my learning moves to a whole new level.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The knowledge I have acquired in the classroom from professors is the strong foundation on which I will build my career.
But nothing will ever replace the hands-on skills I have learned as a reporter and editor for The Pendulum.
The same goes to any organization on campus to which Elon students devote themselves.
Student Government Association, Spectrum, club sports, Model United Nations. All of these transport the learning process outside of the classroom and, even with the Elon bubble, give students a taste of the real world and the complex nature of working with others.
So, Elon, keep doing what you’re doing. Let students pour their hearts and souls into their extracurricular activities.
And while the system is not flawless – with extra responsibilities comes more stress and less sleep, more juggling and less peace – what cannot be replaced is the experience that comes from being an engaged, overworked, committed student and learner.
Whether it’s learning how to layout the front page of a newspaper or learning that, in fact, you cannot do it all, the balancing act of college life is one of the most important lessons a student can learn.