ON HOLD - Wondering How to Graduate College on Time? Get Involved!

by Stephanie Thurrott

You’ve likely heard it throughout high school: college classes will be challenging and you need to prepare to work hard. Focusing on your studies and getting good grades is how to graduate from college on time.

You might think it makes sense to concentrate solely on academics during college, but your efforts in the classroom aren’t the only factor contributing to your graduation path.

It’s also important to participate in campus groups and activities that interest you. Research from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) showed that participating in certain extracurricular activities can make students more likely to stay in school, remain invested in their education, and make progress toward graduation.

“Students who participate in high-impact practices have higher levels of student performance, and it has a positive impact on their educational experience,” explained Brittany Billar, associate dean of student engagement at Azusa Pacific University. “Participation in these types of activities creates an integrative learning environment that helps students to understand themselves and the world around them, to be able to serve their communities, and to have a positive impact for Christ.”

Choosing the Right Experiences and Activities

High-impact practices are critical when it comes to graduating college on time. These are activities where you’re deeply engaged with the process and outcome of the experience. They can heighten your learning by encouraging you to think in new ways—and they can strengthen your commitment to life-long learning.

Good examples of high-impact activities to participate in include:

High-impact practices like these can help you succeed in other areas of your college education, too. The AACU research showed that students who participate in some of these activities are more likely to see an increase in strong learning outcomes than students who don’t. Billar noted that each practice has a range of positive outcomes for the students who participate, ultimately leading to their overall success and retention.

These activities aren’t only key to understanding how to graduate college on time, they also:

  • Give you opportunities to connect theory to practice
  • Provide meaningful interactions with faculty
  • Encourage you to integrate diverse perspectives
  • Offer frequent and substantive feedback, which strengthens your learning inside and outside of the classroom

Finding Opportunities to Grow Your Skills

While it’s important to get connected during college, you might not know where to start. This is common, and the community at APU is here to help.

“It can seem overwhelming to think about what to get involved in because there are so many options,” Billar said. The good news is that many of these opportunities—like service-learning, first-year seminars, and internships—are built into the educational experience for every student at Azusa Pacific University.

You can also connect with experiences tied to your major. Billar recommended students start by asking their professors or advisors about involvement opportunities within their programs, whether it’s collaborating with a faculty member on a research project or a service-learning opportunity within a course.

Campus offices can also help you get involved outside of the classroom. For instance, at APU, the Office of Campus Life can connect students with clubs and organizations they’re interested in. Meanwhile, the Spiritual Life offers local and global service opportunities.

“Our faculty and staff can help you get connected to experiences that will help you find a sense of belonging and apply your classroom learning with local and global involvement opportunities,” Billar said. “We care about the success and learning for each of our students, and about creating pathways for all students to thrive at APU.”

Want to learn more about how high-impact experiences can enhance your education and academic success? Learn more about how service-learning opportunities make a difference in your college experience.