A Beginner's Guide to Freshman Fall
Stressed about your first term at Dartmouth? Look no further than this curated list of tips from my first ten weeks.
- You'll meet friends in the weirdest of places
One of the aspects I was most concerned about going into my first year was making good friends. I got tons of advice from current college students—some even contradicting. What I can say about the matter is I made friends when I wasn't looking! My current group of friends met while we were loitering outside of the library during orientation.
- Noise cancelling headphones will be your best friend
If you're like me, tons of noise can be overwhelming. Whether I'm in the dining hall or trying to study in FFB, being able to block out everything and focus on what I'm trying to do is huge. I've even found them to be useful when studying in my dorm with my roommate. I highly recommend the Airpod Pros (not sponsored).
- Take advantage of the advising services!!
From your dean, to academic advisors, to premed advisors, to even peer mentors, there are tons of people looking to help you with whatever you need. That could be social problems, scheduling questions, future plans, and really everything you can think of. At Dartmouth, you're never alone with the big decisions you have to make! There's someone to help you along every step of the way.
- The food is top tier (most days)
Though there are days where the usual options get a little repetitive, the dining hall truly has great food. I've been able to be pescetarian my entire time here and have vegan friends that are very satisfied with their options thus far.
- You're in charge of how much you learn
There are so many ways to capitalize on your education including but not limited to TA sessions, office hours, and peer tutoring. All of these require you to be proactive and take advantage of your opportunities!
- Consider different modes of transportation
Walking isn't for everyone. It certainly isn't for me all the time. I'm a big fan of the bike I brought onto campus and I know a lot of people who enjoy electric scooters, manual scooters, skateboards, etc. As a college student you'll be moving around campus a lot so it's important to be comfortable with how you do it.
- Make studying in your dorm a last resort
When you're in your dorm your bed is right next to your desk. And I mean right there. If you're studying in the same room that you sleep, it's incredibly easy for your brain to switch from study to sleep mode without you realizing. I made this mistake several times during my first few weeks and found myself turning a 5 minute study break into a 3 hour nap.
- Keep yourself active
An active mind needs an active body! It's important to keep yourself healthy in order to do well academically and socially. Personally I'm a huge fan of the Alumni Gym but there are also a ton of club sports to join as well as the DMC.
- Take time to explore!!
I mean this academically, socially, AND physically. College is a time to find what you enjoy doing and there's no better way to do that than getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. For example, I took a biological anthropology class just because it sounded interesting and now I'm seriously considering majoring in it. There are also so many social scenes to explore (see below) and find which you fit into the most. By physically exploring I mean get around campus! There are so many study nooks to be found and food places to be tried. Seriously taking some time to look around your surroundings opens up so many options.
- Don't worry if you're not into Greek life
60% Greek life doesn't mean that frat parties and activities are the only things to do on campus. There are tons and tons of student activities to participate in and clubs to hang out with. Whether you come into college knowing Greek isn't for you or go to a party and realize there are so many people who are unaffiliated as well and would love to have fun in alternative ways.
- New Hampshire is cold
Shocker, right? Bring a good coat. You'd be surprised how many people I talk to who only brought a windbreaker to campus!
- Yes, FOCO cookies really are that good
If you've ever taken a tour or talked to a current student about food on campus, you'll hear about the warm and delicious FOCO cookies that are an absolute staple in any Dartmouth student's diet. Being on winterim now, they're truly one of the things I miss the most.
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