Letter to the editor:

For the past four years I have had the privilege of working with the outstanding members of the Lilly Initiative for Vocational Exploration. During this time I have shared some incredible experiences, learned some valuable lessons and ultimately come away a much better person because of my experience of with this wonderful organization.

As the final semester of my senior year comes to a close, I wish to take a moment to reflect on something that the Lilly Initiative and I have been working to support and expand at Simpson for the last four years: service learning.

Across the country, colleges and universities are increasingly implementing service learning courses into their curriculums. At Simpson, professors David Wolf, Carolyn Dallinger, Brian Seffen, along with several others have begun offering some great service-learning courses to the curriculum.

There are numerous benefits to having students learn outside of the classroom. For one thing, students are more likely to become actively engaged, providing the local community valuable service hours while also connecting things they have learned in the classroom to the world around them. For the Simpson administration that is constantly searching for ways to increase retention rates, service learning offers an inexpensive way to connect students to the Simpson campus and the local community.

There are many recently published reports that indicate students engaged in service learning courses have a higher rate of retention than those who do not. Local service opportunities can give students an alternate perspective on the world that college textbooks simply cannot provide.

To students who learn better through hands on activity or simply want to take a course that offers a chance to get out of the classroom, I genuinely encourage you to look up service learning classes for next fall. Looking back, some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in college came from coursework I experienced outside of the classroom.

-Nick Webb

Simpson College Senior