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The Dartmouth
May 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

’27s Reflect on Adjusting To College

’27s reflect on the academic and social components of adjusting to Dartmouth.

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This article is featured in the 2023 Homecoming special issue. 

As the excitement of move-in and classes starting dies down, and I feel myself becoming thoroughly sick of even my favorite foods at Foco, I have been thinking about my adjustment to campus life at Dartmouth. These past seven weeks since First-Year Trips have been a fever dream chock-full of laughs, cries and countless hours spent in Sanborn Library. At this point, while I consider myself to be relatively settled into life on campus, it wasn’t always easy, especially in the first week here. For many ’27s and I, that first week on campus was a formative — and sometimes even scary — experience. 

“The first few days were a little overwhelming,” Charlie White ’27 said. “You meet so many new people, and you’re trying to remember their names, and then relating to them over various things like where they’re from, what they like to do. And, you know, it’s just very shallow interactions.” 

Caroline Phipps ’27 shared these sentiments, noting that the contrast between Dartmouth’s fast-paced campus life and the time needed to cultivate meaningful relationships creates a unique challenge. 

“You go into Orientation, where you can have a group of friends,” Phipps said. “But then you realize that actually growing or developing those friendships to more than just acquaintances is a lot slower, especially when you all of a sudden have classes and a sport — trying to balance a bunch of things.”

As a rower, Phipps noted that she appreciated the immediate community she found in her sport but found it hard to separate herself from the team and find belonging in other spaces.

“Going into the second and third week got me really nervous, because I was like, ‘Will I be able to find something outside of rowing?’ I think I have, but it’s taken a lot longer than I expected,” Phipps said. 

Luckily, the ’27s haven’t been alone in the process. White, who is involved in the Christian community and an a cappella group, appreciates the dedication of the groups’ upperclassmen in ensuring that ’27s feel welcomed and integrated. This process is distinct this year, as ’24s who did not have the opportunities to partake in the essential first-year experiences due to the pandemic — such as wakeups and group bonding — are selflessly working to give those traditions to the ’27s. 

“It’s honestly super nice to be able to do bonding activities for the ’27s, especially since I didn't get that as a freshman,” Dartmouth Cords vice president Ben Traugott ’24 said.

White expressed gratitude for the effort that the ’24s put in to build community.

“They are actively trying to connect to freshmen like me, and they help introduce you to other like-minded freshmen,” White said. “They have experience in the social life and club life at Dartmouth. They form the community, and you get to take part in it in something that they’ve been working hard to build.” 

Some ’27s have also found community in their dorms.

“It just turned out that I’m best friends with all the people literally on my floor,” Noah Sohn ’27 said. “It’s so awesome; it was so easy.”

One constant at most college campuses is the presence of peers, which, for Phipps, has been a welcome change from life at home. 

“I love always having company; I hate being alone,” she said. “Even if I’m not with friends or  being ‘social,’ I'm always with people in the library, even if I don’t know them.” 

Phipps said she also likes coming home to her roommates. “Even if I’m not talking to them, they’re still existing around me, and I love that,” she said.

However, Sabrina Tiger ’27 pointed out that the communal aspect of the College can sometimes be a negative quality. 

“You bump into everyone everywhere, which is cute in some ways, but also very confining in others,” Tiger said. 

She has found that getting out of the campus bubble can be rejuvenating. 

“I’ve been liking doing DOC trips because you get to get outside of campus for a bit,” Tiger said. “It’s so beautiful up here, so it’s nice to experience all of the nature that this area has to offer.”

Coupled with the social transition to college, academics have posed their own set of challenges. 

“I didn’t realize it’d be this much reading, and I’m a slow reader,” White said. 

Sohn also noted the difficulty of adjusting to college-level classes.

“Math class moves very fast, and you can’t really just pay attention in class and take good notes and then do well on the test,” Sohn explained. “You have to do things outside of class, like read the textbook, and do practice problems apart from the homework if you actually want to understand what’s going on. There’s a lot of content they need to get through. I think I kind of expected it, but I didn’t really know what it was going to be like.” 

Sohn added that he tries to not let academics overtake his life, and that he makes an effort to maintain a healthy balance between his studies and his social life. 

“At this point in college, like freshman fall, I would rather be building good, solid relationships and having fun experiences with people, than I would be grinding in the library every night so that I can get a really good score on my test,” Sohn said.

My own process of settling into a routine overlapped with Family Weekend, when I had the opportunity to share my college life with my brothers. The day I showed them around the College, I reflected upon the short time I have spent here. 

I took them across the Green, passing by groups lounging and playing Spikeball, and one of my brothers laughed and commented about how students actually hang out outside here. As the picturesque late-afternoon light painted a golden radiance upon the buildings I have walked by dozens of times, I laughed with them about Dartmouth’s wacky and oftentimes needlessly frustrating freshman social scene. I told them about how, when I approached Robo on move-in day, and was greeted by students dancing in flair, I felt reassured in my college choice. I exhaustively spoke of my First-Year Trip, and how, somehow, in only three nights, I connected with nine exceptional ’27s and Trip Leaders that I still speak to regularly. I smiled and waved at my friends and acquaintances as they walked past, and palpably felt that sense of community that current students raved about when I first toured here. 

Of course, this month has brought its own set of challenges and uncertainty. My town’s elementary and middle schools filtered directly into my high school, so I haven’t had the experience of enrolling in a new school with completely new people since kindergarten. And it can, admittedly, be exhausting to not have the safety net of home readily available to me. But as I’ve hit the halfway point of the term, I only find myself to be excited for what’s to come.