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Alternative (Non-Academic) Accomplishments in College

Written By: Katie Goldstein

Katie graduated from Dartmouth College in 2020 double majoring in Computer Science and Hispanic Studies.

"I joined Microsoft in Sept 2020 and wanted to give back to my (new) local community in Seattle. I also care deeply about equitable access to education (especially higher education). Hey Mentor was the perfect intersection of these two desires, and it’s been a lovely experience so far!"


A college education is about so much more than academics.

Here’s why: come graduation, when you walk across that stage, you’re not just celebrating your time spent learning something written in elegant Latin scroll on a piece of hefty cardstock. You’re celebrating you - the you that has been years in the making, the you that has been shaped not only by your independent academic exploration, but also by the people, experiences, and thoughts you’ve encountered during your time in school.

If you do decide to optimize your college experience upon this idea that you are building yourself as a person as much as you are a scholar, I encourage you to ask yourself: What experiences will allow you to become that person, to accomplish the act of becoming who you’ve always dreamed you were?

Will you remember that night you spent cramming in the library, or the night you went surprise sledding with your freshman roommates on dining hall trays? Will you remember an afternoon spent watching television in your dorm or that spent with a professor in a coffee shop, pouring over a research study? Academic exploration and personal growth are not mutually exclusive (and in fact, one may argue, deeply intertwined), but I ask you these questions in hopes that you realize that both are accomplishments in their own rights.

So, while much of college is about the academic accomplishments you will achieve (thanks to the bevy of resources, enthusiasm, support, and knowledge around you), I personally encourage you to think deeply about these alternative accomplishments that also fundamentally affect your personal growth: the friendships you build with peers and professors, the fun, exciting, new experiences you have, and the shower thoughts about yourself, your future, the world, or that funky smell coming from the communal microwave down the hall.

These alternative experiences are equal accomplishments to your academic pursuits as they also influence the person you are and who you will become. So, what kinds of experiences do you want to shape who you will be walking across that graduation stage?

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