Finding My Way Around Course Selection
As I made my way through orientation, I never thought that a time would come when I would drop everything and go back to a classroom. One thing that overwhelmed me the most was the fact that it had almost been a year since I touched a textbook or even thought of opening one. As funny as this might sound, I had forgotten how to hold a pen or even write legibly. That's how bad it was. As someone who had transitioned from a Zimbabwean education system, I wondered how I was going to handle the expectations of the American education system. A hurricane of thoughts went through my head. What was the curriculum going to be like? Were they going to be resources to help me adjust?
Entering the week of course selection, I was clueless about the classes I wanted to take. I had a long list of potential classes, but I just couldn't decide. How could I only choose three? Fortunately, before deciding which classes to take in the fall term, I remember receiving a couple of emails from my undergraduate dean and my faculty advisor. They insisted that we had to meet before I embarked on the course selection process. One of the good things about Dartmouth is that every student is assigned an undergraduate dean and a faculty advisor as per entry into Dartmouth, and they help you every step of the path until you graduate, be it course selection, tackling mental health, time management, etc.
When I met with my faculty advisor, I was amazed by the amount of work and research he had done in the field of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and this motivated me. "If he could do it, then I could.", I thought to myself. We had a constructive conversation in which we talked about the perfect course combinations, satisfying the prerequisites for my planned engineering major, and also college navigation. The fact that he had traveled to Victoria Falls, allowed us to connect on a personal level, and this gave us plenty of things to talk about.
After meeting with my faculty advisor, I met with my first-year dean. She was very helpful. She asked me what I wanted to study and what courses I was interested in taking at Dartmouth and basing on that, she was able to advise me on ideal course combinations as well as enlighten me on the workload associated with each course. After a productive day talking with my undergraduate dean and faculty advisor, I selected my classes with their advice in mind.
After course selection was over, I waited to see what Dartmouth had in store for me. Fortunately, when the class schedule was released, I had gotten into my Math 8 class which was a prerequisite for my Engineering Major (intended). Despite how not getting into my other two classes might sound scary, it was actually a good thing. Why you might ask. It allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and explore other fascinating departments. What made my navigation of course selection much easier was that my undergraduate dean and faculty advisor had helped me plan in advance, and so I had backup classes. This made it easier for me to navigate my second cycle of course selection and in the end, I got all my classes.
So, the next ten weeks were going to be characterized by the exploration of modern and ancient film in my Film 1 class, the study of multivariable calculus in my Math 8 class, and debates surrounding sex and gender in the Bible in my Writing 5 class.
Stay tuned for more!