An Unusual Senior Spring: 21s Make the Best of their Last Term
Seniors reflect on an unusual end to their Dartmouth careers.
As more people get vaccinated every day, Dartmouth underclassmen are looking forward to more normal terms with a full or nearly full student body on a campus free of COVID-19 protocols. For seniors, though, this spring is the last chance to have any sort of Dartmouth experience as an undergraduate.
Rohan Chakravarty ’21 has spent this academic year living just off campus with friends in an apartment near Foco. He said that when he didn’t have on-campus privileges, it was strange to see all the familiar Dartmouth buildings outside his window and not be able to enter. But now that he does have access, he realized that spaces at Dartmouth aren’t really the same as he once remembered them.
“In the fall, I didn’t have on-campus privileges and I totally felt like an alum. I didn’t feel connected to the school at all,” Chakravarty said. “And all the things that I can now access are different. The parts of the library that used to be really sociable are just quiet and study spaces. It’s like adjusting to a new Dartmouth, rather than feeling disconnected from the one that I was at before.”
Chakravarty said living with a small group of friends eliminated the random interactions he would normally have.
“Pre-pandemic, you would just run into somebody at KAF, or wherever, and hang out with them,” he said. “I pretty much only see my close friends now because it would kind of strange to me to randomly send a text because I’ve only seen this small group of people for so long.”
Katie McCabe ’21 has been living in The Rock, an off-campus house populated by Dartmouth Outing Club members, for a little over a year.
“It’s very monotonous,” McCabe said. “With every new rotating group of people living here there was a new energy, but we didn’t rotate this year, so we kind of flattened out. I think we’re just burnt out, but maybe that’s just me being in a cynical mood.”
Like Chakravarty, McCabe has spent the majority of her time with her housemates. She said that last term, when she wasn’t approved for on-campus privileges, she felt removed from campus and her social circle was confined to those she was living with.
In terms of classes, remote learning is not what most seniors imagined their last academic term would be like. It’s well-known that many seniors draft spring-term bucket-list classes and try to enroll in the best courses that Dartmouth has to offer. Chakravarty said that he was lucky enough to have already taken all of the classes he felt strongly about.
“I realized I’d more or less taken the classes I really wanted to take already,” he said. “There isn’t a box I feel like I need to check off or a professor whose class I really want to take because I’ve probably already done that by now.”
Chakravarty said he tries not to spend much time thinking about what a “normal” senior year could be.
“I had three relatively normal years here, so I don’t feel too sad about it,” he said. “I felt bad for the ’20s when they had their senior spring abruptly taken, I felt bad for the ’22s for not getting sophomore summer, I feel bad for the ’23s for not being on campus at all, I feel bad for the ’24s for never having been on campus properly.”
McCabe said it’s easy to forget that this year is her last as a Dartmouth student.
“Truthfully, it hasn’t felt much like senior spring,” she said. “Maybe that’s my fault, but nothing has really changed with the College [regarding COVID-19 restrictions] … so it feels like another year that’s going to end for a little while and start up again next year.”
McCabe noted that since the ’21s have had to grapple with the reality of losing a normal senior year for quite some time now, the loss is less devastating than it was for the Class of 2020.
“I don’t think seniors are particularly heartbroken at the moment because we’ve gotten used to the idea that we’re not going to have a senior year,” she said.
She also said that many ’21s are planning to come back to the area after graduation.
“There’s also a really cool thing where so many of us realized we felt like we’re not done in Hanover yet, so we all got jobs here next year, so there’s going to be a ton of ’21s around anyway,” McCabe said. “It’s exciting.”
Kasey Rhee ’21 had been away from Dartmouth since her sophomore summer when she returned to campus for winter term this year. She now lives in her sorority house, Chi Delta.
Rhee said that the majority of campus being composed of freshmen and seniors has been strange.
“It’s so funny to be walking places and pass groups of freshmen on the Green and my friends and I say, ‘Wow, they do seem so young and excited,’” she said. “I feel, almost, very protective, because the ’24s have been through a lot already.”
Rhee said she’s looking forward to swimming, hiking and spending time outside this term. She and some friends made a spring term bucket list that includes using Chi Delt’s grill and kayaking.
McCabe has had some goals of her own since freshman year, including hiking all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 foot peaks. She’s completed 40 so far.
“I had two goals my freshman year of college: to be able to do a pull up and to have hiked the New Hampshire 48 before graduation,” she said. I still can’t do a pull up.”
Pandemic or not, she is hoping to follow through with her target.
Despite less-than-ideal circumstances, Rhee said she feels grateful to be reunited with many of her friends and is hopeful about her last term at Dartmouth.
“I missed them so much. I felt like I had expected to see them in the spring, and then the summer, and then the fall, so all of the expectation and not being able to see them all over again every term was absolutely crushing, honestly,” she said. “Every good moment we have now is almost better because it’s not just like we’re having fun — it’s like we found a way to have fun, and we found a silver lining.”