Winterim Productivity! Yay!
Dartmouth's unique quarter system and accompanying "D-Plan" does much more for you than trigger people from back home asking you questions like, "So, you're only taking three courses?" and "How come you're already home before Thanksgiving?" and the infamous "What do you mean you're taking an 'off term'?" While I've had a bunch of conversations with those exact quotes in them, I have learned to appreciate the Dartmouth D-Plan and what it allows students to do!
Because of Dartmouth's quarter system, the school year is broken into four different terms: first being fall, then winter, spring, and summer. Between fall and winter, we get a little break during the holidays called "winterim." I truly thought (and had intentions) to relax, be lazy, and de-stress after an eventful fall term at Dartmouth. I have done a little bit of that, don't get me wrong, but now I have time to seek out some opportunities I just wouldn't get the chance to scope out during the school year. Winterim is an absolute perfect time to search for internships and volunteering opportunities for future terms.
Winterim is such a crucial time because, from my experience, many of the summer internships that I have looked into have due dates around the 1st of February or sometime in March. Although I haven't had to do this yet, I would assume it would be a bad course of action to try and apply to really cool opportunities while taking three Dartmouth courses all the while preparing for mid-terms or finals… yikes! That's exactly why I want to stress to you the importance of being productive over winterim and why winterim is the best!
First off, winterim lasts from mid-November to early January, so you get a good amount of time to spend with family through the holiday season, but you also have ample time to research various opportunities you may want to try out, especially in the summer months. For instance, I am looking into meteorology and atmospheric science programs, which are, in many ways like a bag of trail mix: You'd take whatever you get in a handful, but you would still like to pick through the bag because an M&M or chocolate chip is your favorite. Internships are the same!
It takes time for you to scope out what opportunities align with your interests and those that don't which brings me to my next crucial point: Dartmouth faculty is absolutely stellar for recommendations! I've only completed one term at Dartmouth so far, but I've been able to form awesome relationships with some really cool professors even this early on. Based on your research interests, you could ask them for guidance, and I promise you they will be willing to help. Although many students aren't on campus during winterim, the professors you made connections with will remember you. (Don't forget that when in the classroom!) For example, I was able to connect with my meteorology professor, Dr. Erich Osterberg, to ask about recommendation letters and advice on what opportunities to investigate this early in my career. He did not disappoint!
The awesome thing about the Dartmouth D-Plan is that you have an incredible amount of flexibility to say when you're going off campus for some other program. If you want to take off in the winter or spring of your sophomore year, go for it! Want to take a summer to study tornadoes? (*cough* me *cough*) Then have at it! If a program that really interests you is held during the spring or even the winter, Dartmouth still extends a helping hand to get you that opportunity! I truly love this about Dartmouth already. There is so much leniency for every student to pursue passions outside of the college, and the faculty and programs available here will assist you in any way possible.
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One of the coolest things about Dartmouth is the D-Plan! It is an amazing and flexible system that allows your academic life to flow seamlessly around your future plans. Here is an international student's perspective on it.