Hsu: A Different Dimensions

by Caroline Hsu | 5/10/15 7:02pm

I had a lot of fun when I visited Dimensions of Dartmouth as a prospective student last year, and I enjoyed my stay and first introduction to campus. I was lucky enough to have a thoughtful and attentive host who took the time to show me around and answer any question I had about being a student. Now that I am on the other side, though — I hosted a few students this year, as did many of my friends — it is clear that Dimensions does not provide every prospective student with such a meaningful experience.

One distinct attribute of Dimensions, as opposed to prospective student events at many other colleges, is that the program is largely student-run. Although the College hosts events and panels for prospective students, a large part of a prospective student’s experience is dependent on his or her host. By allowing prospective students to see campus through the eyes of current students, rather than those of admissions officers, prospective students can get a raw, unfiltered look at the College — at least, that is the idea.

Unfortunately, as I and many others have noticed, this is not always the case. The freedom that we are given often ends up backfiring. Students — and Dartmouth students in particular — are busy. We juggle extracurriculars and fast-paced classes, and midterms loom around every corner. With such busy schedules, host students often leave their hostees to entertain themselves — something I have personally witnessed. If the prospective student is lucky, his or her host will leave him or her in the hands of reliable fellow students. This can, understandably, be rather jarring for the prospective student, who has no understanding of the campus. Of course, hosts should not compromise their academics for the sake of entertaining their guests. To fix this, then, we must change the system, perhaps by making the hosting application more rigorous and extensive — thereby ensuring that only students who truly want to host and are willing to sacrifice their time do so.

I have also noticed that many students are unwilling to talk about the negative aspects of the College during Dimensions. The enthusiasm and pride that Dartmouth students are known for is a large part of why I was drawn to the school, and I myself will take any opportunity to gush about how great it is. There are, however, undeniable issues with the College that prospective students should know about before making the big decision, such as the prevalence of sexual assault and problems regarding socioeconomic and racial diversity on campus. While we as host students should try our best to sell the College’s positive aspects, I think it is more important that the students have a well-rounded and honest idea of what Dartmouth is truly like, rather than an image that life at the College is a perfect one. Dartmouth is a great place to be, and trying to hide the problems that might exist here is doing all of us a disservice. Students should be more open about talking about all of the issues that prevail here, both the positive and the negative.

I also thought it unusual that only the third Dimensions weekend featured the much-hyped Dimensions show, and the final weekend, in general, seemed to have had more planned activities and events for prospective students than the first two. This irregularity in programming across Dimensions weekends should not exist.

While the details of each weekend’s programming may at first seem like a trite issue, I believe it is essential we offer a balanced weekend to each prospective student. A prospective student’s experience should not depend on which dates he or she is available, and everyone deserves an equal opportunity for a fun experience, regardless of which Dimensions they attend.

While Dimensions is an incredibly enjoyable and informative experience for most prospective students, some are not so lucky. Whether it be due to an inattentive host or a lack of planned events, some students end up feeling neglected or without anything to do. Current students should be attentive hosts who are not afraid talk honestly about our campus’ issues. Dimensions is a crucial part of Dartmouth, and we should try to make it as great as possible — our future peers deserve it.