Sophomore (and Junior) Summer: Expectations and Realities

With the pandemic leaving many students’ D-Plans in ruin, sophomores and juniors prepare for a summer on campus.

by Ellie Rudnick | 5/19/21 2:10am

by Mia Nelson / The Dartmouth Staff

For the first time, Dartmouth’s sacred tradition of “sophomore summer” won’t entirely live up to its name, as members of the Class of 2022 will be joining the Class of 2023 on campus. 

Juniors, given the choice to either take remote classes last summer or wait a year in hopes of spending it on campus, were split in making the decision. Some wanted to pursue internships and other opportunities during their junior summer — a notoriously important time for career progress — while others wanted a more authentic sophomore summer experience. Making this choice wasn’t easy, but it often came down to a student's majors and future employer’s expectations. 

Saige Gitlin ’22, a biology major, chose to delay her sophomore summer.

“I think that I'm lucky that my major and future career wasn’t influenced by a junior year internship,” Gitlin said. “But I know that my friends who actually want to go into consulting and econ and all that stuff were a lot more concerned when they were making decisions about [sophomore summer].” 

Despite being on campus together, in regard to expectations for this summer, sophomores and juniors have different expectations for what is to come concerning classes, Greek life and friendships. 

In an effort to spend more time enjoying the warm weather and summer opportunities in Hanover during their sophomore summer, it is common for students to take only two classes or to make their workload as light as possible. But due to an increased number of students on campus, it seems as though the class options this summer are especially slim. According to Amina Zoklat ’23, other students she knows didn’t get into any of the classes they signed up for and were forced to settle for whatever was left open — which wasn’t much, given the already limited options. 

Zoklat described how difficult it was to find classes that fit into her major. 

“I think the limited course offerings are not a good representation of what Dartmouth normally has to offer [during a non summer term],” Zoklat said. “And I wish the offerings would be expanded to allow students more classes that fit with their major plans.” 

But despite the apparent lack of class options, Zoklat said she is very eager to be back on campus together with her class this summer. In the College’s reopening plan, the Class of 2023 was not offered priority for a term back on campus until this upcoming summer, so many are just excited to reunite, she noted. 

“I think we are all just excited to be together again as a class, and we will be trying to make the most of our time on campus,” Zoklat said. 

While students eagerly await the start of summer term and their return to campus, questions remain regarding COVID-19 safety precautions, in person classes and vaccination rates. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that masks and social distancing are no longer necessary for those who have been fully vaccinated, it appears that regulations will remain in place in Hanover this summer. 

But Addison Green ’22, who will be on campus this summer, said she was more upset about the lack of in-person classes. She wondered why more classes aren’t being offered in person when many people are becoming fully vaccinated and the warm weather lends itself to solutions like outdoor classrooms and meetings. 

“I was a little disappointed, because I figured, maybe, classes with a 20 and below limit would just automatically be in person,” Green said. “But that wasn't the case.” 

This wish for more in-person engagement with professors was shared by members of the Classes of 2023 and 2022 that I spoke with. In regards to other hopes for the upcoming summer, Gitlin said that her expectations for sophomore summer and the college experience in general have shifted greatly since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“At this point, I think that my standards of Dartmouth, and what we get from it, are a little bit different,” Gitlin said. “So like, last summer, when they canceled sophomore summer, I was devastated. This time around, I’m kind of like, ‘Whatever.’ It's just class, it's a good opportunity to be with people I enjoy being around and, hopefully, enjoy it, but I don't have any expectations at this point.”

“At this point, I think that my standards of Dartmouth, and what we get from it, are a little bit different.”

Green also feels this way with regard to Greek life and social opportunities. The majority of positions on Greek executive boards will be filled by members of the Class of 2023 —  the juniors had this chance a year ago. However, some juniors feel as though this will take away from their ability to be a big part of planning and attending events that happen this summer. 

Green said that she will have a smaller role in her sorority since the sophomores will be the predominant class on campus. 

“I feel like the ’22s are kind of just gonna get screwed over. I feel like the ’23s don't really want to do joint things,” Green said. “That'd be awesome if they did, but I don't think they do.” 

However, despite this concern, Green said she was eager to make new friends with sophomores because many of her friends won’t be on campus due to summer internships. In regard to other Greek events — such as the annual Master’s pong tournament — Zoklat and Green are hoping that the warm weather means more outdoor events that are as close to normal as safely possible. 

This past year has been far from normalcy at Dartmouth, with a mix of students living on and around campus, COVID-19 restrictions and remote classes. But hopefully, this summer will be the closest to normal Dartmouth has seen since the pandemic began, and the students experiencing their sophomore — or junior — summers will have an experience that lives up to the infamous tales about this special term. 

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