“Not for school, but for life we learn.” – Seneca
Nowadays, the importance of informal education is becoming higher. In many countries in the world, it’s more appreciated when a student has done some extracurricular activities along with their studies, instead of only having a high GPA.
Non-formal education is voluntary based. You separate your own time to learn something new, gain new friends and experiences. Unfortunately, a lot of people still look down on it. It’s thought that because it isn’t paid, that it’s useless. It’s not paid, because it’s priceless. You will be able to learn so many new things, gain incredible experiences which you’ll never be able to get in College and meet so many wonderful people who will remain your friends forever.
Informal education includes all the extracurricular activities, such as: memberships in various organizations (sport, profit, non-profit, governmental, non-governmental, student, etc.), volunteering, taking come courses, going on conferences, seminars, internships, etc.
I started volunteering at the age of 16. I’d never replace that experience for anything. The people I met, the things I learnt. Many people were making laugh of it because I wasn’t being paid, but they didn’t realize how much they were actually missing. With every new experience, I was feeling wealthier. That’s why I recommend anyone to do some research and find some volunteering projects in your area. They can be related to sport, science, education, heath, charity work, etc. The feeling you get after knowing you did something useful for the community is priceless.
I’m also a big fan of conferences, seminars and student organizations. I used to be a member of one International Student Organization for two years and cannot describe the amount of things I learnt and incredible people I met. It also helped me to discover my talents and abilities, go through my big fear of public speaking and become more extrovert. Going on conferences and seminars, we also get our knowledge expanded and get to learn things which we generally couldn’t in College or School. Try to find some nice conferences of the topics you are interested in. It’s a good idea if you could go to some international conferences, because you can see other country and get great experience. They don’t have to be expensive. You can apply through some nice websites (such as Salto Youth) which can enable you to go for free or very low amount of money.
Internships in some companies or organizations can be very useful, as well. Besides great experience, you can stand out and get a job later. You could also go on some internships abroad through some student organizations, which can be a great recommendation in your CV. Advantages of non-formal education are endless. However, pay attention to some people who are misusing it. There are certain companies who just want to use students to work for free or use their ideas and present as their own. Be careful for whom you are planning to work “for free”.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to put any of these extracurricular activities in your CV. That’s how you’ll present yourself as a person who likes to expand their knowledge, is ready to learn and able to adapt to multicultural environment. Just, don’t do these activities because of your CV. Do them for yourself.
And remember – knowledge is power.