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The Dartmouth
May 18, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

My Sister’s Sister: Students Reflect on Following in Their Siblings’ Footsteps

One writer explores what it is like to go to Dartmouth at the same time as a sibling.

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College is often viewed as the first chance for most teenagers to start completely anew: an opportunity to attend school in an unfamiliar location with completely different people. But what if your sibling also attends, or has attended, Dartmouth? My own sister, Annmarie Allos, is a ’23 and graduated in the spring. Since I’ve arrived at Dartmouth, I’ve reflected on the paradox of meeting new people in a new environment while still being known as Annmarie’s little sister.

Although it may not be typical to go to the same university as your sibling, many siblings at Dartmouth appreciate the comfort of a familiar face nearby when attending school so far away from home. 

Sheil Sharma ’23 commented on how thrilled he was to share his positive experiences at Dartmouth with his younger sister, Jaya Sharma ’26. He added that college has brought them closer together, as their age difference was a little awkward in high school. 

“The second Jaya got to Dartmouth, we became closer than we ever had after just a few weeks,” he said. 

Despite being involved in different campus activities —Sheil is a member of the Aires while Jaya is on the climbing team and club ski team — the siblings still know a lot of each other’s friends. 

“I know a lot of ’26s through Jaya, and she knows a lot of ’23s through me,” Sheil said. “It’s a cool connection to have in each other’s class.” 

Both Ellie McLaughlin ’25 and Lucy McLaughlin ’26, sisters from Louisville, Kentucky, are involved in similar campus organizations and have close academic interests. They are both history majors, members of Dartmouth’s book club and in Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority,. Additionally, they look very similar and are often mistaken for each other or as twins. 

“It’s the absolute best having a sibling that goes here,” Ellie said. 

Students who do not attend Dartmouth at the same time as their siblings shared different experiences. Uma Misha ’26, whose sister, Amrita Misha ’22, graduated before Misha matriculated, thinks that having a sister who experienced Dartmouth made the transition to college much easier.

“My freshman fall was really stressful, but my sister’s friends noticed and made a huge effort to invite me to things,” Misha said. “Even though my sister was never a student here at the same time as me, having someone that went to Dartmouth just helped me a lot [because] she gives me advice about specific classes and professors.” 

Lucy shared a similar experience, though her sister Ellie was on campus during her first fall. 

“I was lucky during my freshman fall because I could always turn to my sister when I was feeling homesick,” Lucy said. “She is just always someone who will be on my side and [be] there for me.”

Dartmouth’s unique culture and isolated location distinguishes it from many other colleges, which makes it comforting to have someone who understands all of the College’s niche traditions and lesser-known spots. This was certainly the case for the Sharma siblings. 

“Dartmouth is such a hard place to explain, so it’s nice going home and having someone with that shared experience,” Jaya said. 

For younger siblings, there may be some temporary disadvantages to coming to the same school as an older sibling. There may be  pressure to live up to the expectations set by older siblings, just as there is in high school.

Misha said she felt “imposter syndrome, with a spin of [younger] sibling syndrome” upon arriving at Dartmouth.

“At first, I struggled with feeling like I didn’t deserve to be here,” Misha said. “But it’s not worth thinking about that. I just had to realize that I am perfectly qualified.”  

As the youngest of three girls, I have walked in the shadow of two older sisters ever since I entered preschool. From piano to cross country to mock trial, I sometimes feel as if my interests are not even my own. For my entire life, I have felt as if I need to reach my sisters’ level of success. 

I almost did not apply to Dartmouth. Over the past summer, before I matriculated, my worries intensified. I was nervous that I would not have the true “college experience” if I already knew so much about the school I would be attending. 

The McLaughlins echoed a similar sentiment and stated that while there haven’t been challenges of being together at Dartmouth, they could see it being hard in the future because they have always been together.

“Because we have the same major, I could see it raising the issue of whether we end up doing the same kind of job post grad,” Ellie said. 

Despite the many similarities between my sister and I, so far, my previous worries about being in her shadow at Dartmouth have been displaced. My sister was on the pre-med track, whereas I am interested in studying education and computer science. She met most of her friends on her First-Year Trip, while most of my friends are in my housing community, School House. While I do the Mock Trial Trial team like she did,  members of the team are interested to learn about characteristics that separate us and have even remarked upon our differences. 

Attending college is a different lifestyle from living at home. Having a sibling that attends Dartmouth has only enhanced my college experience so far. My sister has been able to give me advice on classes, helped me navigate campus and pushed me to establish an identity for myself that is my own. Because of her, I look forward to my next four years here.