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What Is Experiential Learning?

Published on February 1, 2017, at 6:00 p.m.
by Kahla  Anderson.

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Chances are you have probably taken part in an experiential learning opportunity (ELO) and have no idea that you have. Experiential learning is the opportunity to take what you have learned in the classroom and apply it to real-world situations. Experiential learning opportunities come in multiple forms, such as a class, on-campus organization or internship.

Most classes have a lab connected to them, which allows for students to apply what they are learning in the lecture to real-life work. The significance of an experiential learning opportunity within a classroom allows a student to gain experience before applying it to an actual job. I know many students dread looking at internship applications that desire prior experience. That is when an ELO course comes into play.

An example of an ELO course would be the JN 311 Reporting course required of public relations and journalism majors at The University of Alabama, which is offered through the College of Communication and Information Sciences. This class allows students to interview primary sources and use secondary sources to write articles of their choice. The student now has writing samples that they can provide when applying for internships.

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On-campus organizations are another great way to relate what you have learned in the classroom to a real-world situation. You don’t have to look far for these opportunities either. Many colleges have a portal for students to access organizations offered within a college. Two ELO organizations on the UA campus perfect for gaining practical experience are University Programs and Capstone Agency.

University Programs is the premier planning board of The University of Alabama, which aims to develop campuswide events for students by students. This organization includes students from all majors who serve as members of the communication team, graphic design team, event programmer and logistics team. Students develop the idea for an event and work as a team to see it come to fruition.

Capstone Agency is a student-run integrated communications firm comprised of top students at The University of Alabama. The organization consists of six departments ranging from Account Services to Insights. By working with clients on and off campus, students gain agency experience without leaving school. Through Capstone Agency, students develop portfolio pieces, which make them more marketable on the job and internship hunt.

Internships are the ultimate ELO experience. Not only do they provide experiential learning opportunities but are also the result of what those on-campus organizations and classes can lead to. As mentioned before, internships allow students to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to an actual company.

As you can see you do not have to look far to gain experience. Be sure to reach out to faculty and peers within your major to see what type of experiential opportunities are available in your college. Visit to learn more about experiential learning at The University of Alabama.

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