Seeing Double: Twins at Dartmouth

by Ale Geisel-Zamora | 11/13/19 2:10am

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by Clara Pakman / The Dartmouth

It’s a running joke I’ve heard from twins and other students on campus alike: “Dartmouth loves twins.” Maybe that is true. But interestingly enough, there is some controversy surrounding how colleges address twins while making admissions decisions. In an article from the New York Times, William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard, explained that twins are viewed as separate individuals during the admissions process, and if they are qualified, both may be accepted.  

While some argue that separating sets of siblings in classes is necessary because of possible competitiveness, over-dependence or difference in intellectual ability, twins and triplets on campus suggest that these shared experiences may also be beneficial in creating equally qualified, intelligent individuals. 

Elizabeth Hobbs ’22 is a triplet, with two brothers, Billy and Hunt, who also attend Dartmouth. 

“My brothers and I did not decide to go to school together," Hobbs said. "We always thought we were going to go to different schools. We didn’t tell each other when we were applying or where we were applying. We all ended up applying early decisions to Dartmouth, which is kind of crazy to think about, and then we all ended up getting in, which is even crazier.”

Lily Clark ’21, identical twin sister of Lizzie Clark ’21, had a similar application experience. 

“[Lizzie and I] applied to colleges separately,” Lily said. “We made our own lists and we gave them to our mom. We wanted to go to college together, but it wasn’t like ‘I’m going to Dartmouth because Lizzie wants to go to Dartmouth.’ They were independent decisions.”  

Interestingly enough, both the Clark twins and the Hobbs triplets expressed that they have similar interests as their siblings. The twins explained that they share a major, and Hobbs said that she and her siblings are also planning on pursuing the same major. As a result, both sets of siblings said that they have taken many classes with each other. 

In fact, Lizzie said that this term she and her sister are enrolled in all of the same classes. 

“This is the first term in a while that we’ve had all three classes the same, but it’s kind of fun going to class and kind of having a built-in study buddy," Lizzie said. "It’s also kind of funny because our Latin professor can’t tell us apart.”  

However, Hobbs said that sharing classes with a triplet is difficult at times because professors and peers constantly compare the performance of the siblings in the course. 

“A lot of teachers really like having two of the three of us in class. They get really excited about it, so they know who we are,” Hobbs said. “But sometimes, it’s awkward because if my brother gets something wrong in the class, the teacher will sort of look at me like how did you know this but your brother did not or vice versa. Everyone assumes we have the same sort of base of knowledge, but sometimes it doesn’t correlate like that.” 

However, Hobbs said that she is sometimes shocked when students don’t know she is a triplet.

“It bummed me out that I thought I was always going to be known as the triplet, but I found out after I got here that that’s not the case, and a lot of people don’t know we are triplets. There’s a lot of times [when] someone will come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t know Billy was your brother,’” Hobbs said.  

Conversely, Lizzie said that since she and Lily have similar interests and participate in the same campus organizations — they are both involved in the same sorority — they are well known as twins. 

However, Lizzie explained that they wanted to form separate spaces within their shared experiences and form their own identities. 

“Being a twin is a defining part of who I am. A lot of people referred to us as ‘the twins’ freshman year. It’s made me who I am, and it’s really fun having a person who has had all the same experiences and is from home,” Lizzie said. “But we both reached the age where we both wanted to form our individual identities, and I think we have. Together we’re twins, but once you get to know us, you pick up on our individual personality traits.” 

While there are many sets of twins who came to campus together, there are also many who don’t have their siblings with them. Aditi Gupta ’23 is a twin whose brother attends Boston University. 

“If he was here, I would have a form of support that I could lean on without feeling guilty. But we didn’t go to the same high school either, so it was a little bit less of a shock than it otherwise would have been,” Gupta said.

She also explained that her identity has never been based on being a twin. 

“My identity as a twin has always been more of a fun fact like, ‘Fun fact: I have a twin brother’ and less like, ‘This is my mirror.’ Since I don’t have any other siblings, I really don’t know how else that relationship would look like,” Gupta remarked.

However, Lily said that having a "mirror" on campus isn't the worst thing in the world.

“It’s really fun having a twin on campus. Would recommend,” Lily said.