Course Selection and Academic Advising at Dartmouth
Dartmouth course selection during Week 7 is a flurry of excitement and stress as students start to think about what they want to take next term. For me, course selection as a pre-med has been perhaps a touch more stress-inducing as I'm trying to plan out four years (!) of pre-med requirements while still trying to figure out my major and what I'm taking in the next immediate term. There are also other things I'm thinking about, such as certain majors which will require more foresight if I wish to complete them as a pre-health student, and study-abroad, which still counts as an "on" term and requires that I fit in that traditional "off" term somewhere else. As a result, I've gone to more advising sessions this past week than my entire first six weeks combined. These resources around campus have been very helpful in giving me perspective and advice on how to proceed. Interested in who these helpful people are? Read on!
First-Year Faculty Advisor: Every student is assigned a faculty advisor when they enter Dartmouth. Major advisors are assigned once you declare a major, and those advisors will change if you ever decide to switch or undeclare a major. But your first-year faculty advisor is here to stay! Mine is Dr. Witters at the medical school. I go in to chat with him about courses, extracurriculars, and life at Dartmouth.
Undergraduate Dean: Every student has an undergraduate dean who is able to give "big picture" answers to all of your questions! And if they don't have the particular information ready, they will always be able to connect you with the correct department or organization on campus. Their wealth of knowledge in having advised generations of students before you is extremely valuable—they will be able to tell you what courses students have traditionally had trouble in, what students have enjoyed, and even what surprises people on campus have gotten along the way.
Course Selection Open House: Dartmouth hosted a course selection open house this past week where various departments around campus convened at Collis (our student activity center), ready with snacks and a boatload of information. I was able to visit the tables of the departments I was interested in and ask questions about course/prerequisite timelines, study-abroad, and minoring vs. majoring in a given topic! It's also a great way to meet professors and other students in the department so you know who to contact if you ever have other questions.
Department/Student Interest Open Houses: Various departments or student interest groups host their own office hours for course selection, where people can go in and ask questions about course loads and faculty. Examples of student interest groups include the Society of Women Engineers or Women in Computer Science. Plenty of upperclassmen in these clubs have the "student perspective" that can often be missing from faculty advisors, so they are a great resource to utilize.
Pre-health Mentor: The Nathan Smith Society (along with the Women In Science Project) pair freshmen with upperclassmen who are going down the pre-health track, giving students a community and free gelato over which to ask questions and bond. I've already gotten lunch with my mentor, and she has been invaluable in helping me understand the nuances of pre-health life here at Dartmouth. Plenty of other student groups also have a "big/little" system, whether it be in Greek life your sophomore year or in student interest/major organizations.
Pre-health Advising: The Parker House is host to pre-health advising here at Dartmouth. Students can walk in during open office hours or make an appointment with one of two advisors who are able to help you plan out your D-Plan four years in advance! I made an appointment earlier this week and was able to dispel a lot of myths that I had going in so that now I have a clearer picture. All academic departments on campus have advisors who are just an email away if you ever have questions about courses or majors.
Upperclassmen: Upperclassmen are amazing at giving tips for classes, letting you know what classes are the layups (easier classes to off-set a heavy schedule), and stopping you before you torture yourself with two classes back-to-back during the winter that are on opposite sides of campus.
Fellow '23s: Other freshmen are also an amazing peer resource! Taking classes with friends, talking over your course plans, and having someone to bounce ideas off of is great during course selection, because we all are new to this and can have questions that upperclassmen or faculty might not see as important.
So there you have it! These are all the people I've talked to in the past week or so as I've been going through course selection. There are so many resources on campus that can help you during your time at and after Dartmouth, and this list was only academic advising! While Dartmouth quarters move fast, there is more than enough help along the way.