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Looking back now, I have very few regrets from my first year of college. After all, freshman year is meant to be a time of trial and error. From randomly choosing a dance partner for the “Salty Dog Rag” (a First-Year Trips tradition) to painstakingly selecting courses for the fall, Dartmouth freshmen are presented with a multitude of choices right off the bat that often define their first term.
Countless articles have been written on the effects of social media on the lives and social interactions of young people. I, personally, thought I had heard it all before. Then, in my senior year of high school, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with derealization disorder. This condition makes people feel like an outside observer to one’s own life, as if there is a glass wall that separates them from their surroundings as time passes at an abnormal rate.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to celebrate Passover at a professor’s house off campus. During the Seder, I had the opportunity to interact with my professor’s elderly parents and young kids. I participated in lively discussions about world affairs and listened intently to cherished family stories. Importantly, none of these conversations were centered around Dartmouth or dominated by the perspectives of Dartmouth students. If only for one night of food, song and prayer, I escaped the infamous Dartmouth bubble.
Campus outsiders use many stereotypes to describe Dartmouth students. Posts on college-matching website Unigo portray Dartmouth as a fraternity-dominated, beer-drinking party school, but also as a place where students are laid back, outdoorsy and active. I find these Dartmouth stereotypes contradictory — on one hand, students are known for extreme partying, and on the other, they are seen as healthy and physically active. The truth is that both stereotypes are largely valid.
I wasn’t at all surprised by the recent college admissions scandal. The news struck close to home since I’m from Hillsborough, CA, a town in which multiple parents implicated in the scandal reside. The scandal shouldn’t be that surprising to anyone. Look at college admissions from a business standpoint: If a desired good — in this case, a degree from an elite university — is hard to obtain, black markets arise for consumers to gain access.
To no one’s surprise, many members of the Class of 2022 were once hyper-involved, overachieving high school students. I’m one of them. In high school, I was a peer tutor, varsity athlete, editor of the newspaper and involved in various other activities. At Dartmouth, my plan was to pick up where I had left off and throw myself into as many activities as possible. After all, this method worked for me in the past, allowing me to make friends and build a life for myself each time I switched schools. This time, though, that didn’t quite happen.