Where in the World Were the ’24s?
A change in D-Plan rules means that more juniors than ever are spending fall term off-campus — so what were they up to last term?
There’s snow on the ground, ’26s in your classes and the brothers on door at your favorite frat don’t know who you are. The experience of a ’24 coming back to Dartmouth after being gone in the fall is a somewhat unique one, as historically — before recent changes to D-Plan rules — the majority of juniors have taken their off-term during the winter of their junior year.
This past fall, many ’24s took on internships, whether in their hometown or a different city, living at home with their families or in apartments. Others went abroad, as was the case with Blake Rouzie ’24, a history major who spent his fall term on the history foreign study program in London. Rouzie said the highlight was all of the other traveling he was able to do outside of his program.
“I think it was good to get away from Dartmouth’s culture for a bit and experience something different,” Rouzie said.
Rouzie said that he found his term at University College London to be easier academically than a term at Dartmouth, which gave him more free time to take advantage of all of the things there were to do in London.
Living on his own also forced Rouzie to learn how to take care of himself in a way he never had to do before, such as learning to cook his own meals and regulate his own schedule. He said that while he’s happy to be back at Dartmouth, it also comes with a loss of freedom.
“Coming back… you lose a lot of that free time that you would have to explore, hang out and check out new places,” Rouzie said.
He’s not the only ’24 to feel this way. Rujuta Pandit ’24 spent her fall term in Washington, D.C. completing an internship with the White House Council on Environmental Equality and said her sense of agency has changed now that she’s back on campus.
“It was really valuable to have to remove myself from a comfortable situation, live in a city and be more independent,” Pandit said. “But that independence is limited now because Dartmouth is so structured. Your day is pretty scheduled out between clubs, classes and other extracurriculars.”
Pandit utilized the free time she had on her off-term to not only explore her academic interests and prepare herself for a career in the field that she hopes to pursue after graduation, but also to learn more about herself.
“It definitely allowed me to slow down and focus on myself for a little bit. I was reading a lot, which I’m barely able to do during the term,” she said.
Pandit noted that the ability to slow down while on campus is harder to find. .
“When I was on my off-term, I would have a dedicated hour to myself,” Pandit said. “Now, it’s no longer an hour — it’s five to ten minutes.”
Given the pace of Dartmouth’s quarter system, being able to set aside five to ten minutes is an accomplishment. As a ’24 who was off in the fall myself, one of the biggest differences I noticed coming back has been the loss of having consistent down time all to myself. While the experience of completing an internship during an off-term helped me learn how to comfortably live independently, it’d be remiss not to acknowledge the challenge of maintaining the same level of independence while back at Dartmouth.
For Pandit, implementing moments of solitude similar to those she had while on her off-term has been a priority. In many ways, it’s been as simple as learning to be comfortable with saying no to certain social activities, or choosing to eat a meal alone as opposed to with friends or acquaintances. This may, however, have more to do with simply being an upperclassmen than the independence gained during an off-term.
Afton Morton ’24 said she found her fall to be beneficial in helping her get over the fear of missing out, which she typically struggles with on campus. Morton spent her off-term working at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. Although close to Hanover, she felt that the Lodge’s distance from campus was enough for her to worry less about all that was happening at Dartmouth than she does during an average term.
“This fall I was a lot less nervous about missing out on anything… I was really happy with where I was at,” Morton said.
All of the ’24s I spoke to were excited to come back. While off-terms and study abroad programs can be an incredibly rewarding part of being a Dartmouth student, at the end of the day, Hanover feels like home for the majority of students at this stage in their college experience.
“I no longer feel like I need to meet a bunch of new people and find my place,” Pandit said. “I know who my friends are; I know where at Dartmouth I fit.”
But returning to campus after being away for an entire term also comes with its difficulties. For many ’24s, this winter has marked their first time in Hanover since sophomore summer, a term that can make you feel like you know everyone on campus.
“Coming from sophomore summer and not recognizing a single face has been really weird,” said Morton.
This winter is also our first term with the ’26s, a whole new class of students that we haven’t yet met. It’s somewhat jarring on a campus where you’re used to knowing everyone’s faces.
“You don’t expect to feel like you’re in a big city when you come back to Dartmouth,” said Pandit.
There are, however, upsides that come with feeling like you no longer recognize everyone on campus. Dartmouth’s small size makes it challenging to maintain any element of anonymity — . it can be refreshing to feel like not every face is familiar, and the prospect of potential new friends is exciting.
“I’m very eager to meet people, especially the ’25s that rushed my sorority,” Morton said. “It’s very disorienting, but also kind of exciting. It’s almost like I’m a new student again, except I’m a lot more mature this time.”
Correction appended (Feb. 26, 11:50 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly identified "The White House Council on Environmental Equality" as "The White House Council." The article has been updated.