Sophomore summer is a time for taking risks
Sophomore summer is unlike any other term at Dartmouth. With sports teams in the off-season and extracurricular activities relaxed, students will have unprecedented opportunities to meet new people, try new things and see new places.
But new opportunities always bring new risks. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Halberstam, who was Dartmouth's Commencement speaker this year, warned the Class of 1996 against taking the safe or comfortable route in life.
Even though Halberstam's message was tailored to college graduates, it also serves as a sound piece of advice for how to get the most from summer in Hanover.
Summer lasts as long and costs the same as any other term, but it is distinctly different. The snow has melted, the crowds have diminished and many of the worries of other terms have disappeared. It is a perfect time for students to risk taking their noses out of their books, to risk joining new organizations and to risk meeting new people.
As Halberstam said, happiness comes from feeling "like a part of something larger than yourself, a part of a community." Halberstam told the Class of 1996 that friendships and fun are at the core of a happy life.
It is important that students make time for relaxing on the Green, swimming in the river or returning to the woods, perhaps for the first time since the DOC trips.
All too often Dartmouth students complain that they lack the time to enroll in the Miniversity class or physical education course they always wanted to take.
Sophomore summer is the time to break free from what is normal, learn to fence, rock climb or tango. Sophomore summer is the time to stop worrying about transcripts or to take a class that is especially difficult or especially easy.
As Halberstam said, risk is the price one pays for happiness.
"Do not be afraid to make mistakes when you are young," he said. "Do not be afraid to try and fail early in your life."
"Be aware that it is alright to make mistakes, and it is alright to try at something and fail," he said. "The price of failure when you are young is much lower than when you are older."
Students who maintain their routines, who take classes to please their parents, graduate schools or corporate recruiters, may find they missed out on something unique.