Some sophomores choose to leave campus for summer

by Colin Barry | 7/6/04 5:00am

Since the implementation of the Dartmouth Plan some 30 years ago, the vast majority of sophomores at the College have spent their summers in Hanover, enjoying what many regard as the least challenging term at Dartmouth. Each summer, however, a few second-year students decide to skip town -- somewhat less than five percent of the sophomore class, Registrar Polly Griffin estimated.

While Food Court's absurdly curtailed schedule or the complete dearth of registered parties might have deterred a few '06s from remaining on campus, most leave-term sophomores contacted by The Dartmouth cited more serious motivations for leaving Hanover.

Several sophomores chose leave terms to accept competitive or particularly unique jobs that might not be available otherwise. Large firms usually have a formal application process for summer internships but lack equivalent programs during the rest of the year, making it difficult for some especially focused Dartmouth students to find off-term employment in their preferred fields.

Sarah Ball '06 decided to intern for a law firm in New York City over the summer rather than staying in Hanover. She will live at home for the term, doing paralegal-type work for a group that specializes in real estate and matrimonial law.

Ball cited the absence of desirable classes during the Summer term as one significant factor in her decision to take the term off.

"There were basically no courses offered in my major," said Ball, who is a music major.

Professors in the music department are not the only ones who have scaled back their course offerings over the summer. The College offers only three different economics courses, two geography courses, one art history course and three computer science courses aimed at sophomores, according to Registrar's website.

Summer classes are often introductory sections targeted at non-majors. Consequently, undergraduates who intend to double-major or pick relatively uncommon academic concentrations may be inclined to find alternative pursuits for Sophomore summer.

Varsity athletes also occasionally spend Sophomore summer away from campus because of their teams' training demands over the rest of the year.

"It's definitely common among runners to take Sophomore summer off," said Melanie Schorr '06, who is lifeguarding this term at a pool in her hometown of Suffield, Conn.

Without a break over Sophomore summer, a dedicated runner might spend seven consecutive terms in Hanover cross-country competes in the fall, and track meets take place in both the winter and spring. This year, at least three runners decided to forgo Dartmouth's traditional Sophomore summer experience.

One sophomore is going to classes this summer, but not in Hanover. Amy Chan '06 wanted to take Chemistry 51, a course she needs to fulfill pre-medical requirements, over the summer. But the class wasn't offered at Dartmouth, so she decided to take it at a state university near her home and transfer her credit to the College.

"I could have stayed at Dartmouth and put off the classes, but that would have meant loading up on tough courses during the school year," Chan said. "I would really rather get it all done with in the summer."

The majority of off-campus '06s contacted by The Dartmouth did not express much regret about their decision to skip out on Sophomore summer. Most said they intended to visit Hanover on weekends and would make a point of coming up for Tubestock in mid-July.

Although she acknowledged feeling some pangs of longing when receiving e-mail messages about barbeques and the beach, Chan said that "being closer to home has also meant seeing friends that I haven't seen so often."

All off-campus sophomores said they had no trouble keeping in touch with their friends in Hanover via BlitzMail or the telephone.

"It's very easy to stay in touch with people and stay on top of what's happening on campus," Ball said. "I don't feel all that detached from what's going on."