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Hello, lovely prospective-students-no-more!

I'm not the first but no less enthusiastic to greet you, so here we go. Welcome to Dartmouth!

Your welcome is not the same as that which was given my class, and for good reason. Your circumstances are utterly different and the decision you made was likely more difficult due to a host of reasons which are the side effects of the State of Today.

I understand in part but not in full, having a sister whose senior year—despite taking place at the same high school a familiar 1.5 mile walk from our home where just last year I was waved on to college—is utterly unrecognizable from my own. I've watched her attend online classes from the comfort of a never-quiet often-cold corner of our home, where we pretend closed doors are enough to keep out the chaos. 

So I can understand the stress of the last month came on top of attending Zoom classes in your jimmy jams and looking for a Wi-Fi signal, as is my personal Waterloo (reliably, the only class where I'm not in danger of being kicked off due to an overextended bandwidth is Chinese, at 6am, when the rest of the house is asleep). This is in addition to worries of far more gravitas—family, financial, social, and any other which you may find occupying your thoughts. 

Your class truly is amazing. Revolutionary, if that's not too strong a word. Of course, the revolution isn't online schooling—that was more of a challenge. You revolutionized the game, stayed connected despite literal physical distancing measures and kept your nimble minds in tip-top shape. Which, by the way, no longer means perfect grades and GPAs. It means being there for your loved ones and devoting your time to where it is most needed. Academic excellence is secondary to general excellence.

As you've hopefully realized, colleges, as a rare intersection of academics and life, recognize that grades are not everything. Dartmouth wants as much for you to stay well and take care of yourself as it wants you to continue pursuing your intellectual and extracurricular interests. There will be time for that. For now, do what you can but do not overextend yourself. And "lest the old traditions fail," don't forget to promote beauty (as on Dartmouth's idyllic campus) and joy (as watching the first snowfall) when you can. Watching sunrises and sunsets, opening windows to listen to birdsong, watching flowers bloom … it's all real and good. 

After I committed to Dartmouth, I felt a strange sense of, "Now what?" I was a college student now. I had to start packing, or choose classes, or figure out what I wanted to major in, right? I had to begin leaving my high school routine behind. 

Actually, no. I didn't. If you're feeling a similar sense of roadrunner syndrome (as I've termed this weird in-between where high school feels over enough that you're tempted to call meepmeep and race into the sunset on blurred legs), here's some advice. 

You've committed. That's all you need to do for now. 

There is so much time and right now, your job is to finish out high school in whatever capacity feels right to you. Your job is to take care of yourself and those in your "pod." So, while the Dartmouth community is insanely happy and thrilled that you have decided to join us, we'll be waiting. For now, just keep on keeping on, because we're cheering you on. 

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