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Photo of Dartmouth hall

Over the course of my first year at Dartmouth, each term came with a series of reflections as I learned and grew along the way. Here are some of my favorite learning experiences:

It's Okay To… 

  1. Not know what you want to study or do with your life post-graduation: Prior to starting college, I essentially had planned out my life for the next twelve years. For example, I knew what I was going to study, all the courses I wanted to take my first year at Dartmouth, what clubs I wanted to join, plans for applying to medical school, and what type of specialty I wanted to practice—little did I know that it would all change within my first term here (click here to read more on my journey away from the pre-health path). As I dabbled in various departments, I found myself opening a wide array of possibilities that I probably wouldn't have discovered if not for the liberal arts education. After taking two history classes during my spring term, I found the excitement I was looking for all year long, and I can't wait to engage in more classes in the history department. I don't have an answer yet regarding what career path I would like to pursue upon graduation, but for now, I'm just taking it one step at a time.
  2. Take time for yourself: Each term comes with different opportunities and challenges that may make one term more stressful than another. Sometimes I would pack my daily or weekly schedule with a variety of events; however, by the end of the day, I found myself needing to take a break whether that was a nap or just out of the studying atmosphere. I'm often reminded that we only have ten weeks each term, so it's important to have a mixture of time for work and also self-care; don't overload yourself. 
  3. Reevaluate your priorities: College is a time for growth and change, and with that, everyone is going to have different priorities. I've learned that it's okay to not have the same mindset, view, goal, or opinion you may have had the previous term. Change is good as you enjoy and explore new things, as well as have a new outlook through the course of time.
  4. Feel imposter syndrome: There are so many brilliant minds at Dartmouth, and I've often felt anxious to speak up in the classroom as I fear not being good enough—it takes time for this feeling to go away. After fall and winter term, I learned that the best way to combat imposter syndrome is to take classes and professors you're going to enjoy, and also make friends in your classes. I found myself a lot more comfortable speaking in classes that brought me joy and excitement rather than sitting bored with no peer support. 
  5. Ask for help: Dartmouth offers a variety of academic resources available to students (for FREE), such as the Academic Skills Center. Inside the ASC, you can find weekly motivational programming, sign up for a peer-led course-specific group tutor, request a 1-1 peer tutor, or work with an academic coach. During the spring term, I was struggling with my French class, so I requested a 1-1 peer tutor who worked with me once a week. Additionally, I also scheduled an appointment with one of the academic coaches who advised me through a variety of language-learning strategies that I could try out. Don't forget to also utilize professor office hours as well; my professors have been flexible in scheduling times to meet with me outside of office hours if I can't make their official availability, which shows their interest in my learning despite their own busy schedules.

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