Leveraging your College Experience outside of Academics


Leveraging your College Experience outside of Academics

Now that I am entering my final year of education at Harvard, looking back, there are many things that I would tell my first-year self. However, the most important lesson that I have learned is that you must create your own college experience.

What does this mean?

There is no one college experience or typical path to follow. You can try to have it, yet it would be a waste of your time. When I came to Harvard University, I was distracted by the diverse social life that was available. However, as you let yourself be guided by the extracurricular activities without having an apparent reason for being there, you quickly notice that if you are not working to achieve your own goals, you are working to achieve goals for others.

ACE makes this clear with one of its four pillars: Self-Direct. The first one is important because you must first have a goal for who you want to be to develop yourself and your experiences towards that goal. During my sophomore year, I realized my deep interest in Latin American development. I let myself be guided by this passion to create a goal for my activities on campus.

Once I had this mentality of creating my own experience, I could see what I wanted to happen. I realized that the quality of Latin American guest speakers on campus was lacking, which affected the education I was receiving. I also saw the large yet fragmented Latin American community that Boston has. Boston has a population of Latin American students that will be politically and socially active in the region in the next 15 years. The lack of networking was seriously troublesome for the development of the region. Seeing these two factors, a friend and I created an inter-university club emphasizing Latin American issues and culture. We tailored it based on the cultural aspects of our demographic, creating something that probably hasn’t been seen before in Boston. This past year, during our trial period, we had distinct guest speakers, such as the CEO of the largest airline in South America, one of the most influential Latin American economists, and the former president of Colombia. We have also had different social events that have brought the community together in new ways that had not been done before.

I learned from this experience that your college experience is more malleable than you might think. It can be quite easy to focus on academics and forget about everything else. Or put forth the minimal effort to get that degree. However, you must feel that there is more to your professional life than just academics. Because of my interest and focus on Latin American Issues in addition to academics, I can have a better conversation with an interviewer about my event with former president Alvaro Uribe than about my class on Corporate Finance. If you apply self-direction to what you want and have the will to realize your ideas, you can be the architect of your college experience.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter