Sophomores face a second remote term, consider summer options

by Lucas Gatterman | 5/21/20 2:05am

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by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth

Updated 2:36p.m. on May 21

By June 22, members of the Class of 2022 will have to decide whether to take classes this summer — participating in a remote version of their sophomore summer term — or move their mandatory summer term to 2021.

In a survey conducted by The Dartmouth last week, 43 percent of sophomores said that it is very unlikely they will take classes this summer, while 46 percent said that it is very likely they will enroll in classes this summer.

Earlier this month, Provost Joseph Helble said the College expects a normal summer enrollment. 

“The expectation is that most students who are current sophomores will enroll in classes this summer as planned, and then will pursue internships as planned the following summer,” Helble said in an interview on May 8.

On April 20, Helble announced the summer term would be held virtually. Students will be graded on a regular letter grade scale this summer, unlike spring term’s credit/no credit system. The College will expand the non-recording option — in which students can set conditions to exclude a grade from their record —  a policy Helble announced in his weekly livestream on Wednesday. Students may elect to receive no recorded grade in up to three NRO-eligible courses during the summer term, an increase from the regular one course per term. These non-recorded grades will not count toward the maximum of three NRO uses over the course of a student’s Dartmouth career.

The Dartmouth’s survey was conducted from May 15 to 17, prior to Helble’s announcement on Wednesday regarding the expansion of the NRO for summer term.

For many ’22s, the decision regarding this summer term means choosing to postpone their summer term to next year in order to partake in the traditional, on-campus sophomore summer experience, or to use next summer for an internship.

Some, like Blake Danziger ’22, have decided that summer classes are not worth taking unless they can be taken on campus.

Danziger, who said that he plans to postpone his summer term until 2021, said that for him, being on campus in the summer was more important than a junior summer internship.

“One of the reasons I came to Dartmouth and one of the things … I’ve been excited about and thinking about for a couple of years now is the ability to be on summer term,” Danzinger said.

The College previously announced that any students who wish to postpone their summer term until 2021 can do so. According to The Dartmouth’s survey, of those who responded that they were somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to take classes this summer, 68 percent said that they plan to take classes next summer.

Like Danziger, Maria Roodnitsky ’22, said that she sees her time on campus as important to the Dartmouth experience. She has decided not to take classes this summer and has already changed her D-Plan.

“Above all, right now I miss my time at Dartmouth,” she said. “I know that it’s finite … [s]o watching terms slip by through a monitor is really sad.”

Other sophomores have decided that it makes more logistical sense to take classes this term, regardless of the remote format.

Simon Agnew ’22, who plans to take online classes this summer, said that for him, taking an off term would not be the best use of his time.

He said that many of his friends’ internships for this summer had been canceled, so he decided that “treating this summer as an off term and trying to do something useful probably isn’t going to be that effective.”

Daniela Kyle ’22 said that when she first found out that summer term had been moved online, she also wanted to take the term off.

She felt, however, that her initial reaction was “emotional … rather than logical.” She has since decided to take classes this summer, as she said that she would be doing “nothing at home” otherwise.

Despite her plan to take classes remotely this summer, Kyle noted the difference in quality of online classes as compared to on-campus learning.

“You are not going to get the level of education and the level of growth that you can get on campus when you are sitting at home online with a Zoom call,” Kyle said.

For those who have decided to take classes this summer, 72 percent are “very certain” in their plans, according to The Dartmouth’s survey. Conversely, of those who have chosen to not take classes this summer, 82 percent are very certain in their decision. 

That said, for those who decided that the experience of summer on campus may be worth the wait, some said the change was difficult.

Sudharsan Balasubramani ’22 said he spent hours making sure that his decision to be on for the summer 2021 term made sense not only to him, but to his family.

Balasubramani will not be taking classes this summer, but he said that since the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting jobs globally, he believes employers will understand if students are unable to take an internship this summer or next.

Danziger added that he is looking forward to bonding with the ’23s next summer as much as with his own class.

Kevin Ding ’23 said that he has no issue sharing his sophomore summer term with ’22s next summer, noting that he is “indifferent” to the prospect of a joint summer with the ’22s because of the number of friends he has in the Class of 2022. Ding will not be taking classes this summer, but he has not yet made a decision about next summer’s plans.

From May 13 to May 17, The Dartmouth fielded an online survey of Dartmouth undergraduate students in the Class of 2022 asking about their summer term plans. The survey was sent out to 1,165 students through their Dartmouth email addresses. 392 responses were recorded, resulting in an 34 percent response rate with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points. Using administrative data from the College’s Office of Institutional Research, responses were weighted by race/ethnicity and gender. Weighting was done through iterative post-stratification (raking).

Eileen Brady ’21 and Abigail Mihaly ’21 contributed reporting.