“I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. So much of my life has been restricted to the formal classroom setting. This experience showed me how much more there is to learn out in the world.” – Sydney Latimore, ‘18, interned at a major law firm in New York City

The Student Experiential Learning Fund - known as SELF - is a direct response to growing interest among Dartmouth students in initiating their own experiential learning opportunities. The fund, managed by the Center for Professional Development (CPD) in partnership with the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL), offers direct funding and reflection opportunities to students engaging in domestic and global internships, group projects, conferences, competitions, service for social impact, off-campus research, and other forms of high-impact experiential learning.

SELF was piloted in summer 2016 in response to the growing need to support undergraduate students across a range of experiential learning opportunities unsupported by other funding sources on campus, and to create a standardized process for allocating funds to student-initiated experiential learning opportunities. SELF is intentionally designed as a comprehensive fund that addresses the gaps left by other campus funding sources. This pilot initiative has resulted in significant interest from students and provided a place for campus partners to direct students pursuing otherwise unsupported experiences.

“This experience was crucial to my understanding of what I want to do with my life, and vital to illuminating parts of myself that I need to improve in. It helped me find direction and taught me to live and survive on my own...It is because of this experience that I have renewed clarity in terms of how I want to spend my time after graduation, and how I want to maximize on the opportunities that Dartmouth provides me with in my last year on campus. This experience was of paramount importance to my development as a professional, student, and curious, self-sufficient adult.” – Siddharth Mehra ‘18, interned at The Gotham Group, a Management/Production Group in Hollywood, CA

Since it launched in summer 2016, SELF received 230 student proposals requesting over $819,000 in experiential learning funds. From summer 2016 - spring 2018, SELF supported 125 students with more than $330,000 in funding to pursue experiences they identified and secured themselves, as a way to enhance their own learning. Currently, SELF is funded through DCAL’s five-year experiential learning budget, as well as class, parent, and alumni gifts managed by the CPD. Student demand for SELF funding has grown steadily since the pilot, without any marketing or promotion efforts. DCAL and the CPD are able to support approximately one-third of all SELF requests that are submitted, and most students receive less funding than they requested.

230 funding requests received

125 requests funded

$819,473 requested

$333,766 funded

“As a student at Dartmouth, one is essentially accustomed to being told exactly what to do in order to get a good grade. This of course is not how it works in the real world, and this experience was very valuable in this respect, allowing me to get better at taking initiatives on my own.” – Emma Ractliffe, ‘17, Traveled to the Netherlands to participate in the Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly
“I learned about active fields of research that I had never before considered and I learned how complicated they can get. This experience has also excited me to learn even more. Like in any worthwhile subject, I have found more questions than answers, more to learn than I know.” – Loring Schaible, ‘17 attended the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Annual Meeting held in San Francisco, California
“My internship was a very independent experience. My boss expected me to be a self-starter, to perform, and to be a problem solver...I was given the room for trial and error, which I found to be rewarding. I was corrected when mistakes were made and given the guidance I needed. One of the greatest difficulties that I had with this was not being nervous about the possibility of failing. It took a while to find the confidence to be wrong in the working environment.” – Isis Cantu ‘19 interned at a Cyber Security Firm
“I was required to formulate my own research questions, come up with how I was going to answer/approach the questions, and come to my own conclusions. Additionally, I was required to fill gaps in my knowledge by myself. This new independence was a change from previous experiences where I was guided through the steps or taught everything I would need to know.” – Erica Ogino, ‘20

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