Navigating the Sea of Extracurriculars
A maze of tables occupies the Green, navigated by curious, eager freshmen, bombarded by bad puns and catchy slogans by hordes of enthused upperclassmen. The table-minders, oftentimes donning their club-branded apparel, offer free, sweet confections and brandish their posters at the sight of every incoming student. They practically throw their pens at the passerby; "Put your name on my email list!" they insist, "Even if you don't think you'd be interested!" And they all do – even if they are in-fact truly not interested – because everything frankly does sound so enthralling, but of course all of these activities could never fit into one schedule.
The freshman club fair. It's hard to believe that in a couple weeks, it will have been a year ago for me. And this year, I'll likely be manning a booth myself, potentially for a couple different groups, and I can't wait to meet all of the incoming '22s. But reflecting on my own experience, all of my encounters at this wonderful event, I've realized that the clubs I've come to be a part of on campus have really had a profound impact on not just my Dartmouth experience, but on my greater life as a whole. With that said, I'll give a little overview of my experience with extracurriculars at Dartmouth just to showcase all of the awesome things that the College offers beyond just academics.
Coming into college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to get involved in; I had talked to the club hockey coach before I had even committed, and politics and science-engineering-clubs were my thing in high school. Besides that, I was an avid hiker and loved to kayak, and so I didn't really know how to react when I landed climbing for my first-year trip instead. But it only took a couple weeks on campus to shake things up a bit; while politics and hockey stuck, climbing overtook my other outdoor activites, and instead of science-related clubs, I ended up doing this weird, artsy writing stuff for admissions (a STEM major? Writing? What madness!) Yet the strangest part about it all is the two things I never expected doing – climbing and working in admissions – ended up being some of my biggest committments, now that I work two jobs for the office and have flown across the country twice for climbing-related purposes. And with all of the awesome people I've met and new activities I've come to love, I don't regret a single second of it.
And from what I've heard, my experience isn't unique. I have friends who have woken up one morning to find themselves helping to build a formula car, and others who were virtually non-spiritual until almost randomly becoming involved with religious life on campus. One picked up Tae Kwon Do on a whim, and another played competitive Ultimate for the first time and ended up part of a team that would go on to win nationals. If I can say one thing about extracurriculars at Dartmouth, it's to come in expecting to pick up new things, to find new activities that you'll come to love, because that's been one of the most common threads I've noticed amongst my peers here, and it's one of the things that makes Dartmouth so unique.