Thursday, June 14, 2012

Digging Big Green

View from College Green

Between the two hours of sleep last night and the blissful eight hours of snooze time in the car, I've had a pretty great day. I remember little from the drive up to New Hampshire except for glimpses between naps of the slow transition of oak groves to rockier mixed evergreen slopes as we approached Hanover- a picturesque hamlet pocketed in the scenic White Mountains. This was cross-country skiing territory, as we would learn from everyone at Dartmouth.

Our first introduction was to "The D Plan"- Dartmouth's special, customizable quarter system layout with leave terms, sophomore summer, and off-campus terms. The flexibility emphasizes on designing your own path (opposed to designing your own major at Wesleyan). Like Yale, Dartmouth has distribution requirements rather than a rigid core curriculum, allowing room for choice, exploration, and  breadth. 

I really enjoyed discovering firsthand how Dartmouth sets itself apart as the smallest Ivy League institution with a close-knit community, incredible access to professors (especially for the tons of research opportunities), and an undergrad priority. 

Dartmouth Hall

The community is extremely active and diverse (a fun fact in a literal sense- minorities constitute 53% of the student body). 
  • While it initially surprised me that 70% of students join frats or sororities, I learned that Greek life here happens to be inclusive school-wide and more of an added socializing venue available only after freshman year (hence after the building of foundation relationships). 
  • Amazingly, Dartmouth's Outing Club has been organizing hiking, canoeing, skiing, community outreach, and excursions to Mount Moosilauke for over a hundred years. It's the oldest of its kind in the country, and Dartmouth's newspaper joins the DOC in this distinction. Our lunch venue actually happened to be the DOC's original clubhouse. 
  • A third of the student population play varsity sports, and as a Division 1 school, Dartmouth has huge spirit. Everyone we met would eagerly gush about awesome traditions like the freshman Homecoming bonfire, midnight snow fights, Halloween, and Flare. 

Our tour guide, Elise, mentioned the enthusiasm of visiting alums and the sparkle in their eyes when talking about Dartmouth. It was an interesting parallel, because Elise herself was by far the most ardent of our three amazing tour guides thus far, wholeheartedly passionate about her school, and that was something we observed again at lunch with Dartmouth students and alums. The general consensus at our Canoe Club table was that these students chose Dartmouth not only for its great academics, but for the people there and the passion. 

I found the atmosphere there so friendly and welcoming; it caught me off guard me how easily I could put myself in these Dartmouth students' shoes.

Downtown Hanover
A pleasant day strolling down the petunia-bedded
avenue to downtown Hanover's Canoe Club.
Dartmouth-approved Morano Gelato:
 "The BEST gelato in the US"
The consensus- delicious!

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