Popular Off Term Destinations

by Devanshi Udeshi | 10/24/18 2:10am

Unlike most colleges that operate on a traditional calendar system, Dartmouth offers the D-Plan, or “Dartmouth Plan” which allows students to travel, find a job, get an internship or do research during their off-terms. If students have this opportunity to customize their academic calendar, where do most students spend their off-terms? According to students interviewed for this article, the most popular hubs for students to spend their off-terms are New York, San Francisco and Boston. 

New York City, the largest and one of the most vibrant cities in the United States, is home to several major industries including Wall Street, real estate, retail, media and the arts. Since finance and consulting are common career sectors for Dartmouth graduates, New York is a common destination for many students to spend their off-terms. According to the Center of Professional Development’s 2017 Cap and Gown Survey, approximately 47 percent of Dartmouth graduates enter the finance or consulting industries, which are both industries with many firms based in New York. 

Michelle Yao ’20, who interned at Morgan Stanley this past summer, shared that there was a “work hard, play hard” culture in New York. 

“Even after 9 or 10 p.m., you still see a lot of people getting off work and heading straight to whatever their plans may be for that night,” Yao said. 

According to Yao, the biggest difference between her experience at Dartmouth and during her off-term is that in New York, she did not feel pressure to be facetimey.

“Because our campus is so small both physically and enrollment-wise, there’s both stigma with wanting alone time and pressure to be ‘facetimey,’” Yao said. “But in New York, because there are just so many people going in different directions all the time, there’s so much more independence, and I personally felt a lot more freedom in what I was able to do in my free time.” 

At the same time, this can be a double-edged sword, as the fast-paced and independent culture of the city might make it difficult to form friendships. One can no longer rely on “Let’s grab a meal sometime!” or “See ya tomorrow in Blobby!” during one’s off-term in a large city like New York. 

When asked about her favorite things about spending her off-term in New York, Yao cited visiting museums and sightseeing as her top choices.

With the third-highest proportion of young adults out of major cities, San Francisco and the greater Bay Area is the home of the tech industry and one of the most culturally diverse areas in the United States. 

Sixteen percent of the Class of 2017 entered the technology sector after graduation: thus, San Francisco remains a popular destination for students to spend their off terms. From the refined restaurants along the Embarcadero to the hipster-vibe of the Mission District, every neighborhood has its own scene, so there is something to do for everyone. 

Paul Vickers ’19, who worked at a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing and services for low-income people in the Tenderloin, one of the lowest-income neighborhoods in San Francisco, said that he enjoyed the city’s atmosphere. “There’s always stuff to do, but it’s not like New York or Boston with an aggressive pace,” Vickers said. “The city itself is absolutely stunning and gorgeous with its historical homes, parks and architecture.”

Lucía Caballero ’19, who also interned at a nonprofit in San Francisco, had a similarly positive experience. 

“There was so much genuine diversity; for once I didn’t feel like an outsider,” Caballero said. “It is true that SF has many of the problems that exist all around the country, such as severe gentrification and homelessness, but the cultural divide was much smaller than in New Hampshire, in my opinion.” 

When asked about their dislikes about the city, both Vickers and Caballero voiced their concerns over the high cost of living in the city. Indeed, the Department of Housing and Urban Development considers a family earning less than $117,000 in San Francisco “low income.” In addition, both used their off-terms as an opportunity to explore the city and meet new people as a way to escape the “Dartmouth bubble.”

Located approximately two hours from Dartmouth College and home to nearly 120 higher learning institutions within a 25-mile radius of the city, Boston is considered a hub for finance and high-technology research and development, attracting large numbers of Dartmouth students during their off-terms. 

Regina Yan ’19 interned at a technology-driven startup accelerator in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She said her off-term “‘was a good time to be independent and seek out things that I wanted to do in my free time. I think with the Dartmouth bubble, social life gets repetitive, but being in the city, there are so many other opportunities.” 

Like many other Dartmouth students who spent their off-terms in other cities, Yan continued to pursue her hobbies, particularly through a climbing gym in Boston where she was able to meet people from different parts of the world.

Off-terms can be a great way to connect with diverse groups of people, experience a different environment and culture, and simply use the time to take a break from the stressful life of a Dartmouth student. Although New York, San Francisco and Boston may be three of the top destinations for Dartmouth students to spend their off-terms, the students interviewed mentioned that plenty of their peers decided to stay in Hanover or go home for their off-terms.