COMMENTARY: Rethinking what college is about

Nick Bratcher

We got this college thing all wrong.

Go to class, eat, play some basketball at Preston, check out the hot girls on the elliptical machines, eat again, drink a bit, dance a bit and finally, sleep. 

Let’s not kid ourselves and say we’re here to get an education. 

If someone offered you the job you wanted without spending four years doing homework and listening to lectures, would you take it?


But think of all the friends you would never meet, the late-night runs to GADS you would never have or the keg stands you would never do.

That’s right, the body shot you took off that hot girl in your astronomy class would never have happened.

Scary, huh?

Lately I’ve been rethinking this routine, though.

There has to be more to these four – or five or six – years than the highlights many of us share.

Chasing tail, group lunches in Fresh and even group bible studies aren’t cutting it anymore.

I was fortunate enough to visit Ecuador this summer through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies and volunteer in a local village there called Santa Ana.

My group built a playground and installed internet-capable computers.

Can you imagine life without Google, without Twitter – without Facebook?

That was reality for the people of Santa Ana before we took just one month of our summer to share a fraction of our resources with them.  

Maybe Ecuador is too far for you, though. 

Plenty of students spent their fall break reaching out right here in the U.S.

Phi Sigma Pi went to Joplin to help rebuild after tornadoes destroyed much of the city in May and other students went to Rainsville, Ala., to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and Hillvue Heights.

Ashton Duncan, a sophomore from Memphis, Tenn., is a student that spent her fall break building houses in Rainsville after storms swept through that city in April.

“It was a learning experience,” she said. “I didn’t have a real understanding of how bad the storms were. Hearing from people on how humble and thankful they were was eye-opening.

“They treated us like family and we were only there two or three days.”

Duncan said her college experience wouldn’t be the same if she didn’t include volunteering as part of her education.

“I feel like it’s very important to give back no matter what,” she said. “When an opportunity arises and you’re not doing something worthwhile you’ve got to think twice. I’m healthy and able, and I just love people.”

To clarify, I’m not saying you should turn into a robot that does nothing other than giving back and burying your nose in books with your free time.

You need to have a life — preferably a fun one full of friends and fun weekend road trips.

But think about how you spend your time on the Hill. 

WKU is changing, trading in its beer pong table for a table saw.

Think about joining in.

This commentary doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Herald or the university.