Freshman Year Reflection – What Have I Learned?
A few weeks ago, in the early part of June, I submitted my final assignment of freshman year. Just like that, 1/4th of my undergraduate career had passed… in the blink of an eye. The thing that I've come to realize is that I didn't give myself enough time to appreciate what I'd accomplished in those past several months nor did I reflect before moving onto the next task. Additionally, I think I was caught up in a lot of the "formalities" of college that side-tracked me from focusing on things that truly matter — things that I'm just now starting to understand.
For me, coming to Dartmouth meant getting a competitive education without breaking the bank. I saw it as an opportunity for the broke kid from the middle of nowhere to make something of himself. In hindsight, I think viewing this goal through a slightly different lens would have been more beneficial. The past year has been hard for me. I've dealt with a plethora of family problems and personal issues that put significant mental strain on me. However, I never let those issues interfere with my ability to succeed in the classroom. If I needed to isolate, cut people off, dismiss an extracurricular, or even neglect my mental health in order to perform well in the classroom, then that's what I did. While I'm grateful for my determination and motivation in academics, Dartmouth has taught me a few lessons about growth and maturity that have shaped my mindset.
It wasn't until I left Dartmouth at the end of the spring term that I began to truly realize just how much I missed it. I think of the views at the top of the Shattuck Observatory (featured in my past blog posts) after doing the weather observations. I remember the laughs that me and my friends had while sipping coffee in ONE Wheelock. I still feel the cold air that struck me during the first snowstorm of the year. Most importantly, I remember the friendships and connections I've made at Dartmouth. While each relationship is unique in some fashion, there is a commonality among all of them: they made me feel at home, supported, loved, and gave me a sense of belonging.
I'm one of the most career-driven people I know, and it's easy for me to be independent. This is partly due to my family situation and having to become independent early in life. An intangible concept that the Dartmouth community has taught me is that I don't have to live my life that way. There are people who do genuinely care about me, like to be around me, and see me as a friend. Beyond the beauty of campus, the intellectual discussions, or the academic challenge, this is what makes my Dartmouth experience. This place pulls you together in a way that I never thought was possible, and I miss it. I'll be back in a few months to start my sophomore year, and I can't wait. I genuinely mean that.
Here's the takeaway, especially for you incoming and prospective students: I want you to relax a little bit. The perseverance that got you here will continue to drive you as long as you let it. I challenge you to learn more about yourself and what you truly need to understand about your character. Dartmouth has helped me learn a lot outside the classroom. It's an amazing experience, so remain open-minded, loosen up, and immerse yourself in the incredible community Dartmouth has to offer.