Lessons from Freshman Year
I've had a lot of time over the past few months to reflect on my first year at Dartmouth. It was truly a whirlwind experience —First-Year Trips seems like a generation ago. I've considered the many highs, but also the lows. Together they make my freshman year a mix of humbling, beautiful, challenging, and gratifying moments. Here are three core observations I thought I'd share.
1. Freshman year is exceptionally humbling, but know that you are meant to be here. Like many Dartmouth students, this year was the first time that I was fully surrounded by students who challenged me both in and out of the classroom. Be it watching my friends ace their computer science exam or kill it on the squash court, I've spent most of this year in awe of the talent Dartmouth students harbour. At times, I've felt out of place—imposter syndrome, if you will—worried that my acceptance to the College was a blip. But I learned pretty quickly that everyone around me felt the same way at one time or another. You will be intimidated by the exceptional people around you as you sit in class, as you converse in FOCO (our cafeteria), and as you explore all that the College has to offer. But that intimidation is good, as it means you're in a place where you will grow. Always keep that in mind.
2. It's ok to be rejected. Those at Dartmouth are pretty well acquainted with being accepted to things that they apply for—one of the most significant things being, of course, acceptance to Dartmouth. This year I applied for fellowships, clubs, and teams. I was rejected a lot. Ski Patrol denied me during the first interview, I was waitlisted for First Year Fellows (an summer internship program associated with the public policy minor), and I wasn't accepted to be an Orientation Peer Leader for the incoming 24s. Each of these rejections stung. But they also showed me that I had to be ready for the new kind of level of challenges that applying to things at Dartmouth entailed. I've come out of freshman year with a fresh motivation to do the absolute best I possibly could, both inside and outside of the classroom.
3. Get involved! While rejection is something I experienced this year, I was also accepted into a couple of groups that have made my Dartmouth experience absolutely wonderful thus far. Sugarplum, my dance group, has served as an incredible community of artistic women who have mentored me and helped Dartmouth become a home to me. Performing with them on stages and in fraternity living rooms was, without question, an absolute highlight of my year. Varsity Crew, which I tried out for and made in the Fall, has introduced me to a sport that has challenged me both mentally and physically. I feel so lucky to be able to practice a sport I've grown to love so much every day on the beautiful Connecticut River. I also applied to be and was accepted as an admissions blogger, enabling me to pursue my love of writing in a public sphere. These three communities on campus have kept me rooted through my first time living away from home, the academic challenges I faced, and the turmoil as we were sent home because of COVID-19. Don't wait until sophomore year or later to dig in. Do it now.