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The Dartmouth
April 16, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Reflection: New Kid on the Block No Longer

After encountering some prospective ’27s, one writer reflects on her first year at Dartmouth.

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“Are you guys ’27s?” a girl brightly asked me and the two ’27s I was showing around, as we stood in a large pack of unfamiliar faces. 

While I am not a prospective member of the Class of 2027, the kids surrounding me certainly were. Their bright green lanyards, embossed Dartmouth folders and eager smiles gave them away instantly. The group of students that stood in front of me each embodied the quintessential prospective student — that near-graduation glow shone on their faces as they excitedly chatted about the next chapter of their lives.

Once I got over my initial surprise at the question, I answered, “No, I’m just showing these guys around.” 

But, as I looked around at the group, I couldn’t deny it any longer: I am getting old. 

I had previously ignored the fact of my status as an almost-sophomore when I saw the follow requests from kids with “Dartmouth ’27” in their Instagram bios. I pretended not to see the jersey with “DARTMOUTH 27” in big letters in the display window at the Co-Op. I quickly swiped past the video of Lee Coffin signing admissions letters. But now, there was no running from reality. 

The phrase “incoming freshman” contains so many feelings. It’s terrifying and exciting, and now, in my last term as a freshman, it’s almost nostalgic. As I stand beside this schmob-in-training, I overhear their conversations and recognize them fondly. They’re having the very same conversations I had a little over a year ago.

“Did you ED or RD?”

“I’m still undecided about what I’m going to study.”

“I’m visiting Cornell next weekend.”

The two ’27s that I was supposed to guide had merged with the larger group that approached us, while four more waved enthusiastically as they neared us on the sidewalk. I smiled while the prospective students exchanged numbers and spoke about their possible majors, yet I couldn’t help but feel out of place. Wasn’t I supposed to be the young one?

I can’t quite say that I miss feeling overwhelmed in Foco during the dinner rush, begrudgingly telling people that I’m from Connecticut —  like practically everyone else —  or trying to hide that I’m using Google Maps to get to class. At the same time, however, seeing prospective students roam around campus reminds me of my first Woccom –– walk around Occum pond –– or the moment I realized that I would never study government like I had said on my application. 

Last fall, I went home to Connecticut for a weekend and thought to myself that my life was happening without me in Hanover —  that I was missing out on two precious days. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that just a year ago, I was still a high school senior envisioning myself  stepping onto the Dartmouth Green, playing spike ball and high-fiving my partner when we scored. These days I prefer to sunbathe or picnic, but you get the point.

Now here I am, attempting to explain how to get to Irving from Novack and playfully trashing Cornell despite having little-to-no stake in the “Best Ivy” debate.

And of course, there’s the jarring realization that I only get to be a college freshman once, and that this chance is only six weeks away from being over. I start to wonder — have I made the most of it?

Well, that depends on how you define the ideal freshman experience at Dartmouth. Stargazing with friends on the golf course and learning to ski were firsts I wouldn’t trade for anything. But that time I sat on a rock and cried during First-Year Trips because I hadn’t showered in four days, I probably could’ve done without.

I also wrote my first piece for Mirror in the middle of fall term. I talked about how freshmen have the opportunity to rebrand themselves in college and tried to determine what kind of student I’d be at Dartmouth. It’s a bit surreal now to reflect on the end of my first-year experience; it feels like I spoke about the beginnings of it only a short time ago. I think 22F me would be pleased to know that while I haven’t rebranded, I’ve definitely changed as a student and as a person — I’m now much more confident than the scared 18 year-old that arrived on campus three quarters ago. And I’m confronted by that personal growth every time I look at the ’27s.

More often than not, in classes and clubs, at socials and events, I’ve had a moment that’s made me think to myself: This is the part of life that I was so eager to live. As much as I dislike that I’m almost at the end of my freshman experience, I think I’m coming to accept that these years are going to fly by, whether I like it or not. I don’t really believe there’s a right way to do freshman year, though I did have delusions of grandeur about what I would do with the beginnings of my adult life. For some reason, I forgot the studying part when I drafted my great to-do list.

Being mistaken for a ’27 by ’27s is oddly humbling; I’m not insulted that they don’t see me as a college student as much as I am puzzled about the subtle ways that being in college changes you. 

As far as I think I’ve come in my time here so far, they must smell the novelty on me in the same way that I see their class year stamped on their foreheads. I guess that we all blend together at some point, especially to those who are a few class years ahead.

Next year, the ’27s will also grapple with the end of their freshman year, and I’ll be even older. But I think that’s one of the most beautiful parts of college: everywhere you go, there are people to remind you of where you’ve been, just like these potential ’27s are reminding me of my first year in the woods as I write this now. And I think I’m just about ready to pass on the torch.