Opinion: Hands-on work helps students grow more than classroom grades

By Emily Cooper, Staff Reporter

Doctors need to go to school for the required eight years but students in hands-on programs should continue their education to get hands-on experience where the learning goes beyond the classroom.

Lately, I have been discussing the idea of hands-on experience and its effects on students’ futures instead of simply receiving a diploma without being involved and having little to no hands-on experience in your respective field.

Hands-on experiences have given me the opportunities I have now in order to expand and share my ideas into the world with my peers – whether it’s online, through platforms like the Daily Egyptian or my own website.


Classes are the foundation to success. Sometimes they become redundant and the students believe they don’t have to attend – but that is not the purpose. Those who want to succeed will find a way to succeed, through hands-on experience.

Ryan McCarthy, a senior studying advertising, said he feels like he got a step stool to doing actual work at the university.

“I feel like if I had just gone to classes and got A-Bs and graduated in four years, I would be upset with myself that I didn’t do more,” McCarthy said. “I would have half of my resume and none of my online portfolio if I had just done classes and had not gotten involved.”

The work isn’t over just because you learn in class – being successful takes time. College is the point in our lives where we learn in the class and choose to take it beyond to test our knowledge. If we fail, we have the option to start over again and again until we get it right… or until we graduate.

McCarthy said he took Journalism 202, “Creativity Across Platforms” which got him his website on WordPress.

“It’s super low-key but that pushed me to start publishing online and creating content outside of just for a grade,” he said.

After taking a look into different departments across the university, I can’t help but to express how pleased I am for continuing my education here.


Every class I have taken, I have met and been taught by well-known professors who have also experienced the real-world situations classrooms just can’t teach students. They provide us with the information we need to build upon in our own creative way.

H.D Motyl, Interim Chair of Radio, Television, and Digital Media and Cinema and Photography departments, said it’s important to be hands-on in the classroom as well.

“The introductory classes are actually touching equipment immediately,” Motyl said. “We also encourage students to use that stuff– whatever they learn in the classrooms – in extra-curricular activities. That can be anywhere from River Region Evening Edition to Movie Camera Movement.”

Primarily, hands-on experience gets everybody on the same level pretty quickly, Motyl said.

“I think it’s really helpful in terms of immersing the students in their chosen field,” Motyl said. “It really just cements that this is their love and this is what they want to do – their passion. The other thing it can do is it can show them that it is not what they want to do.”

I have always been the student who goes beyond the classroom to experience what I was learning in a real-world way, however I still to this day wonder if one matters more than the other.

When students work in labs, studios and clinics, they’re applying the theoretical knowledge to the discipline, said Michael Behrmann, Chair of Automotive Technology.

The best real-world experiences come from internships. It’s another way for students to get hands-on experience which is needed to flourish in certain departments.

“We have numerous paid corporate internships for our students, starting even from their freshman year,” Behrmann said. “We encourage our students to gain and participate in as many of those internships as possible as they’re going through the curriculum.”

The industries heavily recruiting our students also value real-world knowledge, Behrmann said.

“Those real-world situations we are duplicating those in the clinics, labs and studios,” Behrmann said. “The industries values that as well as us. We’re trying to best prepare our students for going out and doing good in the industry.”

Hands-on experiences are customized for students. A teacher can explain all day about how the real world will be and what a student needs to know for their career.

It’s something to consider the explanation is an explanation of one person’s perspective on said career, rather than the overall trend for it. Every person has a different perspective.

When we get hands-on experience, we are finally able to experience our very own perspective on the career paths we plan to pursue – exposing us to the real world.

Staff reporter Emily Cooper can be reached at ecooper@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @ecooper212.

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