Personal growth at CMU

Made by Zach Halle

Created: September 14th, 2014


The phenomenon I want to discuss is personal growth. Though it doesn't feel like an "everyday activity", certainly part of the goal of college is to grow as a person, and how you develop and change and grow over a long period of time is merely the sum of what you learn from day to day. It is meaningful to me because I feel that the importance of personal development is neglected at Carnegie Mellon, specifically for students in technical fields. In these fields student workload is so suffocating that there is no time to spend on one’s self. This is not to say that there isn’t value in hard work, and that that sort of academic knowledge isn’t important. But I think part of the common wisdom on college in our society is that it’s a time to learn who you are, and you can’t do that by solving integrals on a whiteboard. What I wish to demonstrate is that students in non-technical majors spend more time on activities that have personal meaning. Obviously this is very difficult to measure. How can I tell if a particular extracurricular is meaningful to a particular person? Of course at a high level I cannot do this. Interviews are messy, time consuming and not 'data-esque'. They cannot be represented easily in scale.  To solve this problem, I will consider a specific activity: study abroad. By no means do I mean to claim that study abroad is the only or necessarily even the best way to grow and develop, nor do I claim it is always a meaningful experience for the student. But I think it is a safe assumption that on average participants in study abroad do gain that sort of intangible personal benefit, and that on average it is a meaningful experience. I would gather data about where students are studying - this would be presented as a geographic heat map - and also data covering percentage of students who study abroad by major. That can be presented as a histogram.