Now that we are all appropriately educated in the definitions, let’s get down to business.
At its core, collegial awareness is all about making the most of your college experience by embracing “collegial-ness.” If you are in college then you should be collegial; rather, the general expectation to achieve success in college is to be collegial. From its definition, we see that collegial refers to “share responsibility” or “groups of colleagues or peers.” Therefore, a large part of being a successful college student is to become a part of the different communities of college.
Let’s do a quick test for how much collegial awareness you have…
1. What months do the sports seasons cover at your school? When are games played and where?
2. Does your campus have Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities? If so, how many can you name and what are their representative colors?
3. How many clubs/organizations does your department have for students? Who are the student leaders for those organizations?
4. Which nationality of students host the best parties?
5. When are your professors’ office hours?
6. Where is the tutoring center? How about the writing center? How about the mental counseling center?
How did you do? If you got every question right then you have very high degree of collegial awareness. You know what’s happening in the environment around you and when. You are most likely set up to experience a very enriching and happy college experience. On the other hand, if you didn’t do so well…then you need to ask more question and get more involved in the activities and resources available to you as a paying college student.
Why is collegial awareness important?
College is a very large and diverse ecosystem where you will surely face many challenges. To deal with those challenges in the most effective way, it is very important to find or build a community of people around you to diversify your own thinking skills. Meeting and interacting with diverse groups of people who possess diverse ways of thinking will provide you with a rich set of perspectives that you may use to better inform your own decisions. As it relates to the previous test questions, it never hurts to have a good friend you can call to answer those questions for you.
In a way, collegial awareness goes hand in hand with relationship building. It is good practice to develop your relationship building skills while in college. Those skills will help you after college when you are out seeking a job or trying to start a new project.
Quick Story: My freshman year in college, I lived in a dorm room with a roommate. It was a single room with two beds in it and we shared the entire space. When we first met, we were very apprehensive towards each other. We had locks on our closets and personal things, just in case the other wanted to try anything crazy. Over the weeks, we shopped, ate at the cafeteria, went to the gym, and went to parties together. All of these experiences led to us developing a strong bond. At least we trusted each other more than we trusted people that we didn’t know. One day, I had a crucial mid-term exam that required that we bring our own scantron (testing paper) to class. I surely had forgotten to purchase a scantron beforehand and the only store that sold them was closed that early in the morning. I asked my roommate for advice on what to do. Unbeknownst to me, he had a whole pack of scantrons. That day, he saved my academic life. All because we had developed a great relationship.
In closing, never underestimate the power of relationship building with your college peers. Those relationships can keep you up-to-date on the latest happenings on campus and can save you during tests. For specific tips on ways to improve your collegial awareness, see my article on the topic here: “5 Ways to Improve Your Collegial Awareness.”
In the comments, share a time where a college relationship made a difference in your life.
Dr. Gabriel Burks is dedicated to increasing higher education awareness and showing aspiring scholars the power of science.