Hey y'all, welcome to the woods! My name is Garrett Crouch, and I'm a '26 from Edmond, Oklahoma. Besides blogging, I'm involved in undergraduate research, the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC), as well as the Dartmouth bike shop! In my free time, I enjoy reading sci-fi, listening to 90s rock, and playing video games. Other than that, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to share a bit of my Dartmouth student experience with you, stay a while and enjoy!
For my first term at Dartmouth, I had a lot of fun exploring different courses/areas of study that piqued my interest—EARS 14 is a perfect example. This course in particular was very friendly to new students. I had a lot of fun analyzing the ways in which Earth's weather system works, everything from the tornado and climate labs to black lightning and supercooled ice. Professor Osterberg made the course extremely fascinating and personable! I'm extremely glad I took this course and recommend it to anyone interested in Earth Science.
I had zero programming experience prior to taking this course, and quite honestly, It was a split decision on my part. Nonetheless, I'm extremely glad I took COSC 1, and as a byproduct, I have a newfound love for computers. I came out of the course with a solid foundation in computer science principles as well as programming skills. More importantly, I made my own fully-functioning video game! ; )
I didn’t anticipate this course being all that different from Latin I, but it ended up being a nice surprise. A typical Latin course at Dartmouth involves small class sizes, group work, and the occasional lecture; however, within Latin II, we had opportunities to take a wide variety of field trips and learn more about the history of the Latin language as well as the many people that spoke it. I thoroughly enjoyed stepping outside the sphere of strictly language work (grammar, vocabulary, etc.) and learning more about the history of Latin in Latin II.
Psych 6 is by far my favorite course I've taken at Dartmouth—this course made me decide to pursue the neuroscience major. Whether it was walking out of the Moore Psychology Building with goosebumps down my spine having just seen a human brain in the flesh, or lying in bed rewatching lectures on the cellular mechanisms of long-term memory storage. This course genuinely made me feel like a kid discovering the world again for the first time, I loved it.
What I Wish I Knew About Dartmouth before attending
What do you wish you knew about Dartmouth before attending?
I wish I knew more about the quarter system and how much of a double-edged sword it can be.
Dartmouth operates on a quarter system, which basically means students take a smaller number of courses (typically three) at a time for a short period of time—10 weeks. As a high school senior loaded with seven AP courses, for me, the quarter system had great curb appeal; however, as a current student, I now realize the quarter system definitely has some major nuances, some of which I regret not learning about or preparing for.
The most important thing about the quarter system that I wish I would've known prior to attending Dartmouth is the pace of learning within each 10-week course. I don't feel as if I was naive in high school, but I definitely think I underestimated the speed of learning that comes with taking three separate 10-week courses simultaneously. One particular wake-up call I had was during my first fall quarter when I took a math course that essentially covered all of AP AB Calculus in 10 weeks (I came into the course knowing absolutely nothing about Calculus). Overall, I adjusted to the speed of learning fairly quickly and ended up doing fine in the course, but I wish I had been a little more prepared mentally.
Though the pacing of the quarter system can be intense sometimes, especially towards the end of each term, I don't want to advertise the system as a mistake and or a reason to avoid a certain school that operates on one; the quarter system has a lot of advantages as opposed to a conventional semester-style system. For one, even though the speed of learning can sometimes be a challenge at first, at the end of the day it's actually quite nice to only take three courses at a time. From my experience, it's a lot easier to dive deep into a certain topic or subject, and sometimes it even feels like you end up learning/grasping more than you would in a regularly-paced course.
On top of this, the entire purpose of the quarter system is to give students better career opportunities/internships as the system has a large amount of year-round scheduling freedom. I'm only a first-year student, so I wouldn't go as far as to say I've experienced said benefits, but from my upperclassmen peers' perspectives, I'd say the system works great in that way.
One last nuance I wish I knew more about, prior to attending Dartmouth, is the "on-campus friends" dilemma of the quarter system. The quarter system offers a lot of freedom, and naturally, most students have their own timelines/schedules in mind coming into college. So, what usually ends up happening is students are constantly fluctuating between off-campus and on-campus opportunities and spend less time together than they normally would at a more conventional, semester-based institution. For instance, one of my close friends is taking an off-term next year during the fall, so from the end of this current spring term (early June 2023) I won't get to see him until the start of the following winter term (early January 2024).
It's definitely a large downside to the system, but there isn't all that much you can do to counteract those kinds of things, only to come in more prepared.
Overall, I definitely enjoy the quarter system more now than I did at first, and I'm glad I'm not on a semester system, but as with everything, different systems have different advantages and disadvantages (and I wish I knew more about them before attending Dartmouth)!
Each winter, a celebration of the Upper Valley's beauty is hosted on Dartmouth's campus: Winter Carnival! In honor of its 114th year in existence, I wanted to document its kick-off and the variety of activities students can participate in during it!