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Q:

How do you create relationships with faculty at Dartmouth?

A: Gabe Gilbert '23

Getting to know Dartmouth faculty enriches school life in so many ways. It's simple, helpful, and often fun -- even virtually!

One of the biggest advantages to Dartmouth's liberal arts environment is the potential for meeting amazing faculty. I've frequently sung the praises of Dartmouth's faculty through a ton of my posts, especially my first year, but as a sophomore my ability to meet faculty hasn't been altered in the slightest through COVID. 

Dartmouth class sizes tend to be small -- really small! One of my first classes at Dartmouth was a seminar-style class of only 8 people. That class, Indigistory, was my first experience being in such an intimate environment so driven by the class. It was never boring, my classmates never had those glazed eyes that might accompany a drawn-out lecture, and above all else, we knew each other well. My professor for that class, Dr. Gordon Henry, actually took myself and some of my peers out to breakfast and gave us some incredible advice about our academic careers and actively took the time to get to know us better, and because of that experience, I ended up diving into classes in the Native American Studies department.

But now, with classes held virtually, how does meeting people like that even happen? The answer: easily!

During the spring, I met with each of my four professors individually multiple times. Whether simply getting to know each other outside of the classroom, or receiving specific feedback about some of my work, or even looking to the future and discussing my future academic goals, my professors were a constant source of reassurance and actively engaged my educational experience. It's incredible how valuable a conversation can be!

Since my first spring term in 2020, which was Dartmouth's first online term, it's been a wonderful, stress-free experience meeting with my professors. Many of them set up virtual "office hours" -- office hours are basically times when a professor sets time aside to be in their office and speak with students, either to discuss course material in greater detail or even just to get to know students better. Though definitely intimidating at first -- I had no idea what office hours were when I applied to Dartmouth or even when I'd just arrived -- professors perfectly understand, but make themselves available precisely so that students can engage further with both the material and get to know the professors themselves. Nowadays, most of my professors set up another Zoom room that opens during certain hours where myself or my fellow students can simply drop in to say hi, ask (beg) for hints about a given homework assignment, or even get advice for research. Thanks to this time outside of class, some professors have given me some incredible insight into my own research questions, directed me to highly relevant material, and have been happy to write me a recommendation for different things I've tried applying for. 

This type of engagement between faculty and students is a definite Dartmouth advantage in many ways. If you're seeking a professional degree or graduate school, recommendations are essential! When talking to friends from high school, they're often pretty wow-ed by how well professors have gotten to know me in the relatively short time period that is a Dartmouth term -- even more so that a lot of my meetings happen from a simple email! I'm beyond glad that my college allows for that kind of connection, because I can't overexaggerate how helpful and valuable my faculty connections have been as I consider my future plans. It's an incomparable aspect of the undergraduate experience that I can't encourage you all enough to consider as you determine the best school for you. Hope this helps! 

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