Capturing the Community
"What's the biggest reason you came to Dartmouth?"
I find myself asking that question more often than most. Working in admissions and interviewing campus-dwellers for our 3D Magazine, I've always been curious about what made Dartmouth special for current students, deducing exactly what set it apart so that they chose to spend their next four years here. The first answer I get is surprisingly consistent; almost unfailingly, they respond with one thing: the community. Personally, I couldn't agree more. I already felt like part of a bigger community before I even arrived on campus, just by speaking to alumni and other accepted students. And it hit home even harder once I finally got to Hanover, and still today I'm meeting awesome new friends and mentors.
But truthfully, what exactly do Dartmouth students mean when they say "the community?" Without being on campus to experience it yourself, it's hard to grasp exactly what all these people are referencing, and even then it's still a pretty abstract concept to describe. All and all, it's mostly about one thing: the people. And those people cultivate such amazing, overlapping networks of connections and activities that it's hard not to get embroiled. Altogther, I feel it's that these links constitute an important recurring theme here: from the big communities to the small, from the Upper Valley to your freshman floor, people find community here in a countless number of ways, and there's more to it than just being a small school. Whether its centered around an activity, an idea, an interest, or even nothing at all, people here meet and organize in a way that flows almost seamlessly, and it creates a super tight-knit culture.
Now, it's no coincidence that I'm writing this just prior to rush. Sophomore fall is a big term for many Dartmouth students just because it's the time when many people join Greek life, which is a big new community of its own. With that said, by no means would I call it overpowering; where fraternities and sororities are often the only larger social group that people interact with at many schools, at Dartmouth it's almost precisely the exact opposite. This is why I'm personally so conflicted about rush: I've never been worried about missing out because there are so many ways to interact with incredible people on campus, and while a fraternity can be an indispensible group of super-close friends, I've never felt that if I didn't rush, I'd be missing out. I'm sure I'll speak about it even more in retrospect, but for now, we'll see what happens.
Anyways, I would still argue that the best way to experience it all for yourself is to visit campus; I've heard of many people falling in love with the general community vibe after just a few minutes on the Green, so definitely take the trip if you can. Good luck!