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students posing in front of Baker Berry Library

What's a Thought Project? What's McLaughlin, and how is it different from other dorms? And what's a house vs. a dorm?

For those of you who may be unaware, you can split Dartmouth housing into three categories: house, physical location, and community. Where each student lives is determined by a unique mix of these three factors. Freshmen at Dartmouth have the least amount of wiggle room on the physical location aspect, but there are still ways that you can customize your experience!

A house is a residential community made up of a greater collection of students across all four years at Dartmouth. There are six in total, and each house provides a home base for students regardless of where they physically live on campus. For example, I am a part of West House but live in the McLaughlin building away from other West House first-years. This is because I am part of the Thought Project, which is a living-learning community. LLCs live in McLaughlin and are usually separated by floor. As the upperclassmen of the Thought Project live in a free-standing house owned by the college, Thought Project freshmen have an entire floor to themselves! We are one of the larger LLCs and have about 40 first-years living in three buildings in the McLaughlin Cluster.  

Why apply to live in an LLC? During the summer before a student arrives at Dartmouth, there are a lot of forms to complete regarding things such as financial aid, writing placement, and housing. One opportunity that students can elect to take is applying into an LLC such as the Thought Project. I was particularly drawn to this community because of the events that TP hosts, such as Food for Thought dinners and weekly discussions about a range of topics from sustainability to the biological basis of race. Other LLCs center around things such as the performing arts/humanities, entrepreneurship, faith, race, or even language!

The Cords Baby Show
One of my floor mates is in the Cords, an all-male acapella group! The floor got together to go and watch their first show, where he had a solo!

This emphasis on shared interests is a big reason that students may choose to apply into an LLC. Since students need to apply on a separate form for these dorms, floors generally have a mix of students with complementary interests and personalities. In my experience, my floor gets along extremely well! We have similar values, even if they express themselves differently in daily life. Beyond the formal Thought Project activities, our floor still gets together to support floormates in their various extracurriculars, bake cupcakes on a Friday, or study together in the library.  

And while these activities may not be of interest to you, the good thing is that other LLCs have their own "feel" and your experience will largely be guided by your entire group's shared interests! The community I've gotten from my floor and being in the Thought Project has given me friends from all different parts of campus who nevertheless share a core interest in the TP's mission. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, I highly encourage you to do some research on the various LLCs housed on campus and find your own niche!

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