First, I'll explain who I am. I'm Nicholas Sugiarto, a '23 from San Diego, California. Second, a quick disclaimer. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Prior to Dartmouth, I've never hiked, skied, or seen snow. So yeah, you could say that Dartmouth is quite a bit different from what I'm used to. You'll probably find me on campus lost. I have no sense of direction. Please help.
A class studying how Christian language has permeated into how we as a society talk about economics. I have virtually no interest in either field as a major, nor am I really religious, but the class is super fun! It challenges you to think in ways that aren't outstandingly obvious, but get more and more interesting if you're willing to put the time in to thinking about them. It's by no means your traditional class. At least in the high school I came from, the idea of dedicating an entire term to a topic as niche as this is unheard of. But honestly? That just makes it so much more fulfilling. Like most Dartmouth classes, there's a ton of freedom to explore topics that interest you. For my final term paper, since I'm a huge hip hop fan, I wrote about the religious and economic underpinnings of Kendrick Lamar's "How Much a Dollar Cost." Without diving too deep into the jargon, I argued that money according to Kendrick Lamar, is defined by Western capitalism heavily intertwined with American Prosperity Gospel; its true nature, on the other hand, is a form of spiritual exchange. I loved this class so much that I was able to take my professor out to breakfast (on Dartmouth's dime, of course. Quick college lesson, never, ever pay for food. Live life Aladdin style.).
For those that don't know, Writing 5 is a class that's mandated for all Freshman. It helps you adjust to college writing, research, all that good stuff. There's a ton of topics to choose from, ranging from the criminal justice system to how food affects your mind. I personally chose "Pursuit of Happiness" because, well, who doesn't want to be happy? This class was my first intro to what the Dartmouth academic experience is really about. It was a small class of only 16 strong where classes were discussion-based and the professor's door is always open. It goes without saying that the course was immensely interesting (is there really a way to make happiness boring?), and we studied a vast majority of topics from Aristotle to Voltaire to Biochemical research studies. I tell incoming students all the time that if you want to make the most of your Dartmouth experience, take classes that interest you and make what you do with those classes interesting too. There's nothing more painful than having to write a paper on a topic you find absolutely mind-numbingly dull. Given my fascination with stand up comedy, I focused on viewing comedy as a form of happiness, starting from comedy in relation to Camus's absurd, the higher prevalence of mental illness in comedians, and what kind of comedians deserve happiness. Honestly? Even though this class was technically "mandatory," I would have taken it regardless.
This is the class I'm currently taking, and it's by far my favorite. You couldn't tell by my posts, or my favorite classes I listed earlier, but I'm actually a huge STEM guy. I'm a biomedical engineering major for a reason, and Dartmouth classes really make STEM fun. They're also so easy a child could follow them. Literally. I'm using the computer science 1 curriculum to teach my little sister coding. At a slower pace of course. She's not THAT smart (yet). I've never tried coding before, but the task-based approach of the CS department really makes things interesting. So far, we've drawn a children's book/ logo, a chalkboard drawing (I drew the Kanye bear), and a retro pong game. There's something fun about solving puzzles for a grade, and even though the course is admittedly pretty challenging at times, it's so worth it.
If you didn't physically visit campus before choosing Dartmouth, how did you make the decision to enroll? What factors influenced your decision?
That's a great question! Thank you! Between you and me, I always feel like I'm one of the 5 people who committed to Dartmouth without ever seeing the campus, which makes sense because the natural beauty of the Dartmouth campus is definitely one of its main selling points.
Now this has nothing to do with your question, but let me let you in on a secret. Part of the reason I chose Dartmouth without ever physically visiting the campus is because, well, I applied early decision by accident. So when I got in, given that I've never visited, and had to live here for the next four years, I should have been terrified
I wasn't scared because I knew that, no matter how I would feel about the campus itself, I knew that I would fall in love with the spirit of the school. Dartmouth is a school with a sense of humor, one that doesn't take itself too seriously. Just Google "Dartmouth mascot" and you'll see exactly what I mean. But even before I knew that, I knew Dartmouth was the school for me as soon as I saw Conan O'Brien's 2011 commencement address, which in my opinion is the greatest commencement address, ever.
I could go on and on about how hilarious that speech was, and how it was the fastest 23 minutes I've ever had. But what strikes me is that once you watch the video, and look behind Conan, the former president Jim Kim is dying laughing. The man looks like he's about to fall out of his chair. Which strikes me as odd, because when you think of university presidents you think of these old men in suits and horned glasses who look mean all the time, forever. And yet here I saw Conan O'Brien delivering jokes making fun of President Kim, and Kim was just wiping away tears. It was so refreshing to see a university president like that laugh so freely, even at himself.
And it's not just the president, it's every aspect of Dartmouth life. I'm part of the school's humor magazine, the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, and we're the organization who designed the mascot I mentioned above, and where Dr. Seuss first used the name "Dr. Seuss." And again, that's not even mentioning flair, which is an excuse for Dartmouth kids to dress up in the stupidest things they find imaginable.
Overall, I can go on and on about how amazing the academics are here, how abundant the research opportunities, whatever. But the underlying idea is that the spirit of the school is just so refreshing to be around. One where you're free to pursue whatever you want however you choose to because, at the end of the day, it's just more fun that way.
Looking back on my college search process, I remember really wanting to meet students to try and get a sense of the school's culture. To help you guys out, I decided to interview a couple '24s to help you guys get a sense of Dartmouth!