Hello there, friend! My name is Love and I am a '23. Aside from being on the pre-med track, I'm currently interested in studying math and public policy. I have a penchant for old things, learning languages, and the arts. I also love personality tests, irrespective of their actual validity—in case you're curious, I'm an INFJ, Scorpio, dragon, and type 2w1.
BIOL 11.07 (Major Events in the History of Life and the Human Genome) is a very unique class. We learn topics such as oxidative phosphorylation in conjunction with evolution and paleontology. In other words, where and when did ETC come from, and how can we support our hypothesis? Though not an easy class by far, every day the material I learn amazes me with the wonder of life, which is how biology should be!
MES 7.03 (Jerusalem: Vision and Reality) was my First-Year Seminar and such an interesting class to take! We explored Jerusalem through three main viewpoints (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). The class had a bit of religion, literature, anthropology, sociology, and even geography—all things I love to study but don't necessarily have the space for with our three-class quarters. I often found myself going to office hours just to talk with my professor about questions I had outside of the reading!
COSC 10 (Problem Solving with Object-Oriented Programming) is a data structures course and the last pre-requisite for the computer science major. Though I added it as a fourth class on a whim because of COVID-19 and remote learning, it quickly became my favorite class this term because I loved the problem solving that CS has to offer. It is a difficult class but the emotional and academic rewards make it all worth it!
This was one of four classes I took during fall term and it was super interesting! We learned about healthcare systems and innovations from around 4 guest lecturers per week, and were able to do research on our own and propose a new system at the end of the term. Students came from all over campus and the course was very enlightening for me in terms of understanding how care is dispensed in the U.S. and how we can improve it.
Though this was my first "foundation" course in the Biology department and I still found it challenging, I really enjoyed learning the material and found it all super exciting! We learned about DNA replication, mRNA transcription and protein translation, genetics, and had the opportunity to do a literature review at the end of the term.
The dreaded Organic Chemistry sequence of my pre-med track came upon me faster than I thought it would, but it surprised me by being one of my favorite classes to date! I found it intellectually interesting (even though it was time-consuming), probably because I treated it like a STEM-and-logic puzzle instead of pure STEM or pure memorization. Am I great at it? Not necessarily. Do I remember everything I've learned? I'm not too sure! Am I mentally ready for Organic Chemistry 2 next term? Not at all! But I had a lot of fun doing this class and surprised even myself with how I tackled it.
In what ways does Dartmouth make the campus experience affordable for students (beyond financial aid)?
In many ways, I think that Dartmouth is super accessible money-wise so I'm glad that you asked. Here are some things that Dartmouth or Dartmouth organizations have done to make the campus experience affordable for me!
1. Student-Accessible Funds
As a college student, certain things come up every year that aren't included in your tuition statement. While these costs aren't explicitly included in most low-income students' scholarships, there are funds or student-led initiatives across campus that help with this! You can get free tickets for the Dartmouth Coach through Student Assembly's termly first-come, first-served giveaway, for example, and my freshman year OPAL gave out gift cards to L.L. Bean for winter gear. Many student-led organizations, such as the Dartmouth Student Union, are also creating more student-accessible funds to support these small costs that still do sum up to a large total of money for the low-income student.
Almost all on-campus activities are completely free to attend and commonly include free catered food from nearby restaurants as well. In this way, no student needs to worry about having to afford events or go on trips with their classmates. One extremely famous example of a Dartmouth-sponsored activity is the annual West House trip to New York City, where a raffle is drawn for a group of students to have an all-expenses, weekend-long trip to NYC. Other examples are free movie or performance tickets for the Hop, free talks by prominent speakers, and the ice rink that was established on the Green for 21W. Since the campus experience is commonly colored by these Dartmouth-sponsored activities, I find that this is one of the most effective ways in creating an accessible atmosphere.
3. Scholarships for Dues
Certain things on campus still have fees, however, such as club gear, interim break trips, or even Greek life. Most of these clubs, however, are COSO-recognized and thus set aside funds for students seeking financial aid. In my past experiences, such as when I was to go on a spring break trip to Washington, D.C. or I had to buy a sweatshirt for the uniform of a dance group's performance, these clubs had sufficient funds to allow me to apply for need-based "scholarships" to reduce the amount of money I had to spend. The process is ridiculously simple, too—no student tries to insensitively verify that you are "sufficiently" low-income for fees scholarships and I've never felt embarrassed for emailing the treasurer for help.
4. Locality of Dartmouth
The last thing that I would like to mention is just the locality of Dartmouth. A great thing about going to school in rural New Hampshire is that you aren't in a city like NYC or Boston, where young people will naturally want to go out to cafés, have fun and go shopping, or go out to the theater or watch a concert. Being at Dartmouth means that we are usually cocooned in campus life, and I've never felt the pressure to spend money that I didn't have. Our student lives were almost completely shaped by watching performances at the Hop, studying at the library, pooling together money to buy Domino's, going out to fraternities (which don't have cover fees), or using the free Upper Valley transit system to get out of Hanover and explore the local towns. It is a really simple, carefree lifestyle that I've loved being able to be a part of when I was on campus; importantly, it also means that we as Dartmouth students can usually forget about the wealth labels and just have fun together because most of our fun isn't dependent on money!
I noticed a free paddle boarding lesson sponsored by the Outdoor Programs Office (OPO) at Dartmouth and made the 20-minute trek from my Topliff dorm to Ledyard Canoe Club, situated right on the Connecticut River.
As a low-income student, financial accessibility of social opportunities at Dartmouth has been crucial to my experience and have helped me find a great balance between work and play as a Dartmouth student.
Since I last wrote, I've finished another term of classes, spent an off-term nannying, picked up approximately a bajillion random quarantine hobbies, and have begun applying to my first round of internships.
To those who may question whether applying is the right choice: yes! If you are looking for a sign to apply, this is it. Hear from a first-generation, low-income Chicana about why it's important to take a risk and apply.