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What do you wish you knew before attending Dartmouth?

A: May Oo Khine

Looking back as a sophomore, one thing I wish I knew about Dartmouth is that the people you meet here are genuinely willing to talk to you and find a way to help you. Right off the bat, from freshmen DOC trips and orientation, I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming my international student mentor and trip leaders were. There's a lot of work that occurs behind in scenes in welcoming the freshmen class, and both faculty and upperclassmen really put in their time and effort to make sure you have plenty of access to resources on campus. Seeing their bright smiles and hearing their offers to grab coffee together at Collis or lunch at '53 Commons was incredibly helpful for an anxious freshmen like me.

Take advantage of having upperclassmen in your classes or club events! It wasn't until winter term of freshmen year when I started reaching out to the upperclassmen and getting to know them. It's absolutely normal to be shy, overwhelmed, or nervous about approaching upperclassmen. But once I made the first step to reach out to a junior in one of my tougher classes for some homework help, the rest, as they say, is history. You really get the best study tips, advice, and insider knowledge of secret menu items from upperclassmen! 

Another thing I wish I knew, or be more prepared for, about Dartmouth is the quarter system. A disclaimer: It. Is. Incredibly. Fast-paced. Three classes a term might not sound like too much, but the rigor of each course always keeps you on your toes. You really have to work your sleep schedule, eating habits, and social life around the 10-week term. The first midterms approach around the 3rd week of classes and continuing to propelling yourself forward to be on top of assignments and projects can be challenging. 

One last thing I wish I knew does not particularly pertain to Dartmouth, but with starting college in general: it's very common for us to appear calm and collected on the outside while in actuality, we're frantically trying to keep up.  As students and young adults, we're easily influenced by those around us and thus, we can't help but compare ourselves to friends and peers. But doing so traps us in an unhealthy cycle where we forget to pause, breathe, and give time to check up and take care of ourselves. Maybe one of the biggest things I've picked up the last two years is that everyone has a unique path to take. And when you believe in your own growth and pace, it's so much easier to not only be genuinely happy for yourself, but also for others.  

Starting college is both daunting and exciting. For many of us, it starts with a mental picture of university life that we've put together from the advice we've collected from counselors, teachers, or family members, what we've read up online, or even from what we've seen in the movies. Chances are, even if you start college equipped with a handful of resources and testimonies, there's always going to be surprises and realizations. There really is no one truth or story. Yours will likely be full of twists and turns, ups and downs, backtracks and sideloops. But that is really what makes the whole experience so amazing. 

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