Making Friends at Dartmouth
Where do friends come from in college?
It's a perfectly reasonable question to ask! With Dartmouth being one of the most selective colleges in the country, chances are you are one of few people you know coming to school here (if not the only one). We all start anew at Dartmouth and are confronted with the prospect of meeting new people and starting from scratch.
Your first friends will probably be from Trips, the pre-orientation event that the majority of freshmen go through at the beginning of their time at Dartmouth. In my opinion, Trips is a wonderful encapsulation of the Dartmouth experience, with random students thrown into a group together, traversing the wilderness. There is something extremely equalizing about Trips, as we are all roughing it and doing something that most of us haven't done before. While I am not extremely close with people in my trip, we did all get along really well and they are always friendly faces on-campus.
Once you get back from Trips, your next step is Orientation Week, where you go to lectures, open houses, and other class events to get a crash-course in what your next year at Dartmouth will look like. During this time, you will most likely go to events with your floor and UGA, who are the people you will be living freshman year. Depending on various circumstances, your floor may be your first truly "close" group of friends. My floor had weekly floor meetings and fun group events like movie nights or going to performances, movie screenings, or open lectures. We even went out as a group after the freshmen fraternity ban was over!
After Orientation Week, all the freshmen are let loose onto campus and there are no large group events like before. You will now meet your friends more sporadically, such as at club meetings, in class, or grabbing food. If you are religious or spiritual, you may find friends at religious services and student groups. Performing arts groups, such as a cappella, dance, or improv / theater also have extremely tight-knit communities. And as you take more classes and find your footing in an academic department, you will also start to find friends within your potential major or career path. Because of the D-Plan, friends at Dartmouth are always hopping in-and-out of your life so you will find that your experience on-campus is never 100% the same and you will always have the opportunity to meet new people as we are all missing friends at one point or another. Some people may love this part of the Dartmouth experience, whereas others may find it unsettling that they can't always count on having a solid and complete friend group. To remedy this, many people may think about joining a sorority or a fraternity. In your second year of college, you are allowed to rush a Greek organization and some people may find that this community is one of the most stable and accessible parts of social life on campus.
The particular beauty of Dartmouth, I think, is that you can always make a new friend even after you're not a freshman anymore. By that point at any other school, there are cliques and friends groups that have already cemented. At Dartmouth this happens a little bit less because of two main reasons.
1. Diverse interests: many people have a diverse enough set of interests that they won't spend all the time with friends from one group. For example, you may have friends from Agape (a Christian fellowship here on-campus) and a group of friends from your sorority, with you being the link between the two (usually separate) groups. Or you may be pre-med and in a dance / singing / investing group so you'll have friends to do labs with and different friends to do extracurriculars with.
2. The D-Plan: as mentioned before, the D-Plan is infamous for breaking up friend groups and longterm relationships. While it is a little inconvenient or isolating at times, the D-Plan also creates an incredibly open atmosphere where no one can necessarily have the luxury of depending on a clique to be there 100% of the time.
So there you have it! While it is extremely hard to not worry about this aspect of the college experience, that is exactly what I would recommend that you do. This post isn't any encouragement for you to find freshmen events and make it a goal to make friends there because it is difficult during other times. Many of the people that I enjoy talking to and spending time are friends I've made unexpectedly, with relationships stemming from seeing them in the library every week after class or seeing them at department open houses and starting to talk to each other because we have the same glasses. Making friends is something that you will never stop doing during your time at Dartmouth. The people here are warm, kind, and always open for a new adventure—it's the Big Green spirit! All you have to do is show up and let the college work its magic.