Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dartmouth and The D-Plan

I woke up bright and early this morning ready to enjoy the four-hour car ride to Dartmouth. The scenic views of the Mountains and lush greenery alongside the edge of the freeway were enough to keep me wide-awake through the duration of the trip. 

Once we arrived at the school, I was immediately drawn to the vast openness of Dartmouth. The huge brick buildings and dark green lawns we’re nothing like a California college campus. I couldn’t wait to explore more of this unique university. After checking in with someone at the admissions office, we crossed a giant open space in the middle of campus to attend an information session. Once we arrived in an auditorium, an admissions officer named John spoke to us about unique aspects of Dartmouth.

The vast open space.
Something that immediately intrigued me about the university was the quarter system or D-Plan. Dartmouth has four ten-week terms. These terms allow students to take more classes per year without being completely overwhelmed. The D-Plan is quite similar to the El Cerrito High’s block schedule; a system I really like. For me, focusing more on fewer classes enables me to go deeper into the subject matter.  Another advantage to the quarter system is that students with obligations such as sports are still able to travel abroad because they are away for a shorter amount of time.

After the information session, everyone in the auditorium split up into four groups lead by four different tour guides. Michal, our tour guide, led us around the campus and provided us with valuable, honest answers to our questions. He shared a story about running around a campfire after homecoming. This was first time he really felt at home on campus. He expressed the fact that Greek life is a huge part of Dartmouth and that this isn’t for everyone, but many really value the close relationships they develop with those in their house. I really appreciated how Michal shared both the positive and negative sides the school. It enabled me to gain a better perspective of what life at Dartmouth is really like.

On the tour. 
Freshman dorms. 
After the tour, we walked off the campus and into town where we ate lunch with students and admissions officers. Destiney and I were seated next to two students, Janae and Marianna, along with an admissions officer, Justine. One student, Janae, was on the track team and she expressed the challenges of juggling athletics with the heavy course load but also said that she couldn’t imagine life without track. It was really helpful for me to sit next to Janae because I am currently contemplating whether I should play a sport in college. Justine asked Destiney and I questions that really got me thinking about what I want in a college. Marianna expressed that sometimes life at Dartmouth is really difficult but that there are always people that feel the same way. If you’re motivated, you will be able to succeed.

I left the lunch feeling egger to learn more about Dartmouth. I got the sense that students really care for one another and that the small size of the school really enables students to think of Dartmouth as a home. So far the schools we have visited have really impressed me. I can’t wait to see what the others have in store. 

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