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April 21, 2010 / Brent Sears

A Diploma and A Story

What are the two things every student has upon graduation?  The first is a degree.  It’s the diploma, the scorecard, the grade point average, the transcript, the physical record of what was done.  A lot of work goes into getting a degree: late night study sessions requiring gallons of coffee, stress over  20 page research papers, and quizzes on endless textbook chapters.  How much mental anguish goes into finals week?  After all that, isn’t the transcript just a scorecard anyway?

The second thing every student has upon graduation is the story. If the diploma is the scorecard, then the story is the account of what was done.  It’s the context around the A in history, or the D- in calculus.  It’s about how you played the game.  Everyone gets a degree who finishes the requirements for graduation, but how many students have remarkable stories of what they did?  How many students invested a semester at an internship at Walt Disney World?  How many students built houses in a developing nation with Habitat for Humanity?  How many students took courses in another country?  How many students competed against athletes from all over the world?  How many students interned with a professional football team?

The answer is that a lot of students do remarkable things.  Most just don’t notice it while it’s happening.  What are you doing that is worth talking about?  When you stop and think about it, you are probably a lot more interesting than you give yourself credit for.  If you’re not, why don’t you do something that is interesting, unique, exciting, or meaningful?  What’s stopping you?

You’re writing this story!  (Don’t forget that you’re paying the institution a lot of money to keep score.)


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