The Core 401 Experience
The end of the semester is coming up, and while many underclassmen are stressed out about their upcoming finals, graduating seniors are also thinking back through their time at Greenville and what experiences are most important to them.
The most recent experience that seniors have gone through are CORE 401 projects. I spoke with graduating senior, Nate Brown, about his experience with CORE 401 last semester and got some of his thoughts on this college experience. For his project, his group helped a church in Coffeen set up an after-school program. Kids would come and get a snack and help with homework, and they would play games until their parents came to pick them up. I asked him if he felt like he learned anything important from the experience or if it was just another class. He responded:
“Well, I think what I did learn is how to work with a group more so than how to accomplish a great project. Senior projects would be much easier if individuals were to do them by themselves, but really the world doesn’t work that way. CORE 401 gave me a chance to work with a group of people who had different assumptions and intentions than myself.”
The idea that the success of the CORE 401 project itself is less important than the experience of working with a group seems to be a common feeling among seniors. CORE 401 projects don’t always have a lasting impact after the group who set it up graduates. For that reason, some students disagree with the existence of the class at all.
CORE 401 is different from other group projects that students will have in their other classes simply because of its duration. Having to work with people you don’t necessarily know very well on an important assignment for an extended period of time will be more difficult than other projects. In addition, the idea your project have a positive impact on people for years in the future provides a level of investment in the project that would not otherwise exist.
For Nate’s major (pastoral ministry), he had to complete an internship before his senior year. “I think that was probably the most rewarding ‘class’ I took at Greenville.” CORE 401 seeks to capture a similar experience. While it may not apply to all students’ majors, it certainly applies to real people in the real world.
I asked Nate if there was anything, in particular, he was going to take away from his college experience, and he told me this:
“I think the two biggest things I learned from college are that connections matter, and it’s okay to fake it until you make it. The truth is, most opportunities come because you know people, and you won’t know everything all the time. It’s just important to be willing to learn and work hard no matter where you end up.”
This coincides really well with a lot of the advice I heard from seniors at the track team’s awards banquet. The information and skills we pick up from classes while trying to get a degree can be helpful, but making personal connections with students and faculty is just as, if not more, important. Several seniors who spoke emphasized learning from coaches’ experiences by having conversations with them about personal life and asking for advice. It’s for reasons like this Greenville College emphasizes the idea of community so much. The opportunities Nate mentioned will not always include career steps. They could involve ways to learn more or teach others about God’s love. I would recommend students try to make CORE 401 one of those opportunities.