Involved students maintain balance
There is just enough room left on the planner page to scribble in one more reminder: breathe.
Less than a month left in the semester and Drake University students are still holding strong in their commitment to high caliber coursework and student leadership positions.
Breathing offers intermittent silence to the incessant buzz of activity and productivity, like the engine of a well-oiled machine churning out success.
A line from the Drake University page for undergraduate admissions says it all: “Participate in more than 160 clubs and social organizations ranging from student government and professional societies to intramural sports and volunteer opportunities.”
The opportunities are here and Drake’s exceptional students are quick to take them.
Some of the main areas of student involvement include student life and social fraternities and sororities.
According to Drake’s Institutional Research Center, 28 percent of undergraduate males belong to a social fraternity and 27 percent of undergraduate females belong to a social sorority.
“Part of their involvement is the fact that we push it and encourage them to get involved in leadership. The reason why we push it is that from my experience and from some of the research out there, when students get involved, they have a sense of belonging, tend to do better academically and gain important out-of-the-classroom knowledge,” Dean of Students Sentwali Bakari said.
On average, 91 percent of Drake students are involved in at least one on-campus activity according to the Multi-Institutional Study on Leadership.
With regard to campus leadership, Student Senate President-elect Amanda Laurent said, “The joke is at Drake, 20 percent of the students do 80 percent of the work.”
While a select group of Drake students are in leadership positions, student contributions to academic, organizational and professional excellence appear more widespread than larger and less community-like midwestern universities.
The path to success
In addition to on-campus opportunities, Drake’s five colleges and law school offer numerous internships and professional experiences for Drake students to pursue.
Junior Lindsay Peters was a research intern at the American Association for the Advancement of Science last summer. She participated in a Drake partnership program and accompanying class through the Washington Center.
“I think it helped me be more confident when working in larger groups and better organize projects,” said Peters. “And it made me really, really excited for after graduation rather than fearful. I realized that I could be successful in the real world.”
Soon-to-be Drake graduates find themselves in an era when a resume can make or break a future employment opportunity. Some college students might be inclined to stretch their limitations now for that job down the road.
“I sense that some students overdo it, though I don’t have any evidence to back that up,” Peters said. “And perhaps the reason they might overdo it is that they are so passionate about their organizations and passions. And then there are those that try to do too much and overdo it and find themselves struggling academically. Some do it because of their passion and desire to stay connected and then some do it because they want to pad their portfolio.”
At Drake, the latter appears to be the exception to the rule.
As Bakari puts it, “We try to advise students to pick one of two things that are substantive. We try to suggest students do things that really matter and to make an impact.”
Laurent noted the tendency of first-year students to sign up for a variety of organizations at the activities fair.
“We encourage first-years to sign up for what they think is interesting and then narrow it down from there,” Laurent said.“I’ve narrowed my commitments down to the few that I really care about.”
The balancing act
For the student who loves being involved and exceeding in class, but needs to work to pay for a quality Drake education — most Drake students — the days can get filled fairly quickly.
“It really is a balancing act,” Laurent said.
Some students turn to exercising, sleep and friends to handle stress. Others cut these things out in addition to eating healthy and can find themselves in a constant state of “catch-up.”
At Drake, there are a variety of resources for students who lose that balance.
“One thing Drake students don’t realize is the number of resources Drake offers. There is the counseling center, a service learning coordinator, a new Sexual Violence Response coordinator and resources through the Drake wellness center.
A step ahead of other students
In the final stretch of the year, nice weather and Relays activities are the ultimate test to students’ commitment to diligent studies, organization meetings and a healthy lifestyle.
“I regret that I wasn’t as involved as some of the students. I didn’t do half that stuff, but they’ve got to prioritize the academics,” Bakari said. “The bottom line at the end of the semester is how are you doing academically, but what can contribute to that academic success is finding that right balance of engagement outside of the classroom to compliment what they are learning in class.”
Here at Drake, it appears most students really do know how to prioritize to enjoy the upcoming races and prepare for finals.