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Baker Library at Dartmouth

Starting classes at Dartmouth can be both exciting and nerve-racking! It's exciting to explore and discover new passions and academic interests, but it can also be challenging making the jump from high school to college curricula and learning styles. At the beginning of my freshman year, I was especially anxious about adjusting to a new learning style in a new country, but over time, I developed a few tips and methods to ace classes at Dartmouth and have a fun learning experience!

Go to Class!

I know this sounds incredibly obvious, but in college, when you're in control of your daily activities and class schedule, it can be tempting to skip classes to sleep in, or to do some other activity that you think is more fun. But skipping classes will be detrimental to you in several ways. Apart from the fact that you're paying for classes and should be attending them, skipping classes robs you of the opportunity of connecting with Dartmouth professors who are so dedicated to teaching and connecting with undergraduate students. Additionally, classes allow professors to give insights that lecture slides and textbooks can't provide.

a slide from an economics class at Dartmouth
A slide from an economics class at Dartmouth

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice really makes perfect! Repeatedly engaging with class material makes you so much more comfortable and familiar with it. In classes that I've found difficult, I've discovered that it's really helpful to carve out time each day to do a few practice problems and review material. This also helps in non-STEM writing-heavy classes. A lot of humanities and social science classes at Dartmouth require you to write argumentative essays and papers where you have to make a claim and back it up with clear evidence and reasoning. This took me a while to get used to, but I eventually realized that much like mastering any other thing, it takes practice. I would practice writing short argumentative essays on random topics that I found interesting, and I gradually became more comfortable and at ease with writing essays in my classes.

Dartmouth Students on the Collis Porch
Dartmouth students on the Collis Porch

Take Advantage of Available Resources.

Dartmouth is known for having an incredibly supportive and collaborative learning community, and taking advantage of this community is important to acing even the most difficult classes. Aside from the immense support you'll receive from your professors during office hours, you'll also have access to additional office hours and tutorials from teaching assistants and peer tutoring groups. One of the resources I valued the most was the other intelligent and intellectually curious Dartmouth students in my classes; forming study groups is not only a great way to meet new people and make new friends, but it also gives you the opportunity to engage with class material in new ways that may make it easier to understand.

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