Snippets of Advice for College Life
Below are some questions that I've personally had for other people this term or questions that I've been asked, along with their answers! These questions range a broad array of topics and besides giving some great advice, also show you what sorts of questions come up in a normal Dartmouth term.
How do I study for a cumulative final?
Friends and upperclassmen advise that one reviews all the previous content in the course. If you have the time and energy, feel free to go over your notes and/or slides carefully. If you don't have that kind of time, review old exams and do more practice problems, since most Dartmouth exams I've come across are application-based instead of "regurgitation"-based. While you're doing this review, try to connect concepts across the term so that you can create a mind map in your head of how units fit together and why the professor structured them in a certain way. Like it or not, tests are about seeing how you mastered the material and how well you can answer to the professor's liking so understanding where your professor is coming for is extremely important as well.
Do you feel like Dartmouth Greek life is exclusive?
I recently joined the Greek system at Dartmouth after an intense rush process. I can only speak for sororities, but I think that any female-identifying student who absolutely wants to join a sorority can do so since we have at least two sororities that do some sort of continuous-open bidding. If that isn't a given person's main goal and they instead want to join a more "exclusive" house, then of course Dartmouth Greek life is necessarily more exclusive at that stage. However, that it isn't the only way that one can enter the system so I personally don't see sororities as prohibitively exclusive (although there is a problem with the more "Asian" or POC houses being viewed as "less desirable", and that is another problem altogether).
Where do I turn in xyz?
If the syllabus does not say where to turn something and you can't find it in "Assignments" on Canvas, feel free to email it to the professor! Dartmouth professors are relatively understanding, so if you miss something and email it to them anyways, they will usually accept it no problem and/or steer you in the right direction so that everything ends up in the right place.
How do I get research? What is WISP?
Research at Dartmouth usually involves emailing a professor about their work and setting up an interview. Depending on your interest, certain labs require more experience than others. I find that psychology or biology labs will be able to use most students whereas computer science or chemistry labs, for instance, really want to see some sort of coursework or demonstrable experience before taking you on. WISP in particular is a program set up for first-year female freshmen to be "matched" with a faculty member willing to take on a student with little-to-no experience. The engineering school, Thayer, also has a similar program for all students regardless of gender called FYREE.
I studied so hard and still feel like I'm failing. What should I do?
Dartmouth academics are really difficult, and nothing feels worse than putting the time and energy into a class only to still do badly during an exam—I know because I've been there. During these times, though, it is still important to remember that you got in on your own merit and that you deserve to be here. Spend some time to figure out what tripped you up during the last exam/assignment/presentation and dedicate some energy to ironing out problems in your study habits before the next hurdle. In addition, school resources such as tutors, the Academic Skills Center, and even a talk with your professor can help you get some valuable input and back on the right track.
Is it normal to feel out-of-place at school?
I certainly think so, especially in your first year! It is a time when you've left behind all your friends and family to start on a new journey entirely alone. Every other student has also just done the same thing, and no one is 100% capable of handling school, relationships, and self-care perfectly all the time. Therefore, sometimes you will feel out-of-place and lonely. If you do have these emotions, I recommend calling family back home, booking a session with a therapist at Dick's House, or reaching out to upperclassmen through shared interests or clubs to have someone to talk to whom you can trust and who is in a somewhat different life stage than you.
If you've been feeling like this for awhile, I really empathize with you and am sorry that college isn't everything that you've been expecting. I hope that you can find some peace with selective friends that you've made across campus and with whom you can vent to. I think that MHU has some really great people if you need someone to talk to, as well as students in religious / spiritual student groups (Agape, Al-Nur, Hillel, etc.) or people who frequent spaces on campus such as the Tucker Center or the Dartmouth Center for Social Impact.
How do you pick a major?
Through experience! Try out a lot of classes your freshman year and build up your prerequisites so that you are able to jump into a multitude of majors relatively easily by your sophomore spring. I've written a lot about this previously, but my biggest advice would be to take a holistic approach to choosing a major: find one that suits your interests, your career goals, and your lifestyle goals post-college. See what kind of balance suits you the best and don't worry about what other people are saying or doing, because what works for them might not work for you.