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The summer after my senior year of high school was one of the most confusing periods of time in my life. A spirit of change lingered in the air: The calm before the storm. Mundane activities, like grabbing coffee with friends in town, suddenly increased in significance. As friends left home for colleges across the country, the strange thought that nothing would ever be the same replayed in my mind. Perhaps I was being a bit melodramatic, but nonetheless, the nervousness and excitement associated with leaving for college were palpable.
“Where are you from?”
Everyone loves maple syrup, right? That delicious, teeth-rotting liquid amber you can use to drench pancakes, waffles and (controversially) bacon in an attempt to make your heart stop faster? New Hampshire –– and more famously, Vermont –– is known for the production of maple syrup. Starch stored in sugar maple trees during winter months is converted back into liquid sugar as spring approaches. Ground water plus sugar equals sap, which is then “tapped” by inserting a spigot into the trunk of the tree and drained into buckets. Clear sap is then boiled at extremely high temperatures, giving the final product its signature color and viscosity. The process of production itself seems pretty simple. I wouldn’t quote me on that, though, because I’ve never done it. But a select few at Dartmouth have.
When we think of admissions, especially at this time of year, we usually think of the college application process — and of all the rejections and acceptances that come along with it. Besides being defined as the process of gaining entrance into an organization, however, an admission can also be an admission of truth, or even an admission of guilt.
Regular decision results for the Dartmouth Class of 2023 come out tomorrow, and they’ll be arriving in the wake of a recently uncovered college admissions scandal that has shaken the nation. The multimillion-dollar scandal includes coaches and administrators at elite schools across the nation. Even celebrities like actresses Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman have been publicly criticized for their involvement. As colleges and universities, including fellow Ivy League member Yale University, scramble to review applicants, students and alumni potentially involved in the scandal, conversations about the controversy and its implications on the greater college admissions process are ubiquitous across social media platforms.
Most students would agree that they chose Dartmouth for its tight-knit community and its family feel. I’m not just assuming a general consensus here; I went back and looked up the most common responses to why people selected Dartmouth over schools like Duke or Johns Hopkins on our Class of 2019 Facebook group page. Among campus legend DJ Chris Hogan ’19’s excited posts to assemble a “Mixcloud playlist” for our class (thank you, Chris, for being an example of unparalleled friendliness and enthusiasm), I found a myriad of posts endorsing Dartmouth’s “inviting community where you can feel at home,” as a place where people “care about each other.”
Despite the best efforts of the Dartmouth bubble, news permeates every second and area of our lives. Push notifications from Twitter, Instagram and your news app of choice in the bucket of pure content that gets dumped over our heads in the morning. Amidst all this information, it is more difficult than ever to discern fact from fiction. This week’s theme of admissions examines the concept of truth as an admission of truth. English and creative writing professor Jeff Sharlet answered some questions about the current state of journalism, truth-telling and his personal experience entering into and thriving in the world of writing.
By the tail end of twelfth grade, seniors begin to exhibit the typical symptoms of senioritis: slacking off, showing up late to school, wearing sweatpants to class and realizing it might be time to actually talk to that crush they’ve been too scared to face. But behind the fact that classes are starting to wind down and grades have begun to matter less lies the harrowing reality that college admissions decisions are just around the corner. For some, thinking about the college decision notification date makes them want to puke. Others, however, incessantly fantasize about the picture-perfect moment in which they open the letter and get greeted by an immediate, all caps, “CONGRATULATIONS!” and proceed to be embraced by family and friends who pop out of nowhere and shower them with pre-bought college gear and bubbly champagne. And when the day comes, some brave souls even take the daring step of recording themselves opening their decisions.
It’s the last week of March, and you know what that means. High school seniors across the globe are eagerly awaiting notifications from their dream schools, which, for many, include an institution or two in the Ivy League. As teenagers everywhere repeatedly refresh their inboxes this Thursday, they will inevitably receive the fateful message determining their futures for the next few years: the unparalleled excitement of a “Congratulations!” or the let-down of a “We regret to inform you…” paired with an unfulfilling statement about “an increasingly competitive applicant pool.”
This week’s issue of the Mirror is themed “silver linings.” The phrase literally has nothing to do with silver, or linings, but somehow I didn’t think twice about what it meant. Idioms like this one are so ingrained in American English that as a native speaker, I never think about how neither “silver” nor “linings” individually have any meaningful similarity to what they signify together. It’s strange to me that words can lose their meanings entirely to serve the meaning of a phrase. That got me thinking — what does “silver linings” actually mean? Where did it come from? I extended those questions to 10 popular idioms to uncover their (often ambiguous) history.
There is an ancient Sufi poem that goes,“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
February has been a hellish month for my home state of Virginia. The state has been hit with a storm of scandals that have rocked the political hierarchy. First, there was the revelation that Governor Ralph Northam had worn blackface in the past when a photo surfaced from his medical yearbook. He offered an apology but then came a reversal, as Northam ignored calls for his resignation. Another admittance of blackface followed suit by a different top state leader — Attorney General Mark Herring. And on top of all this, Lieutenant Governor Justin E. Fairfax, Northam’s designated successor, faced two allegations of past sexual assault during the same week. (The Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General rank in the top five most powerful leaders in the Virginia state government — all three positions are currently held by Democrats clouded in scandal). While the sexual assault allegations add to the ongoing conversation during this #MeToo era, the blackface confessions have reignited conversations about racism we thought we no longer needed. All of this happened during African-American history month. Virginia is not doing well.
Two times. That’s the number of times Carolyn has tried out for a capella groups here: once freshman year and once sophomore year. As she was reminded this past weekend at Dartmouth Idol, this school has way more singing talent than its size might suggest. Seriously. It’s like everybody here can belt a tune or two. As disappointed as she may have been to have toiled through the day-long auditions and the call-backs at midnight, only to receive a “no,” being rejected from the coveted singing clubs allowed her to pursue something that she had never done in high school but had always wanted to try — the school newspaper. One door closes, another door opens, as the saying goes. Nikhita thinks that being rejected from her “dream school” during college application season was in fact a blessing in disguise, because she would have never realized that Dartmouth was actually her real dream school … or have been writing this week’s editor’s note. It’s funny how things work out. Meeting and covering incredible people, making friends with those who started out as “coworkers,” Carolyn and Nikhita have realized how, in some ways, they were lucky to face rejection right off the bat. And, a whirlwind of 40 issues later, Carolyn writes this final editor’s note with a bit of reluctance and a lot of gratitude for what The D has given her, while Nikhita has high hopes for the future. This week, in the last issue of Mirror for the term, we suggest you look out for the silver linings in your life.
Over the last few years, young women around the world have been sporting a bold new hairstyle: bright, eye-catching silver locks. While platinum blonde has always been high in demand, this contemporary look deviates from the norm, blending cool tones like gray, blue and purple instead of traditional warm blonde and brunette hues; this avant-garde twist of tones produces a unique chic shade that closely mirrors a woman’s natural graying of her hair.
Ah, winter. My favorite season. It’s freezing cold and wet and dark. We get a faithful weekly cycle of snow that turns from powder to slush to mud and then frozen into black ice again. I live in constant fear of slipping and falling and have accepted my fate that multiple pairs of pants will, indeed, rip on the way down. Gravel and salt make incursions into our heavy winter boots and cozy dorm rooms. The hot water situation has never been worse and leaving a building with wet hair is the beginning of pneumonia or, at the very least, hair icicles. Unlucky car owners spend an unreasonable amount of time digging out their vehicles from snowdrifts. I wear so many layers of clothing that leaving a classroom becomes an ordeal similar to how I imagine astronauts suit up to enter the vacuum of space. Not infrequently, I’ve compared my MWF trek between the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center and the Black Visual Arts Center to climbing Mount Everest.
Risk is a basic principle in economics: investors are willing to take on risks in exchange for a better return on their investment. At Dartmouth, we’re taking risks all the time, from plunging into Occom pond during Winter Carnival, enrolling in a class just because it sounds cool or sending a hopeful flitz to a crush. Sometimes taking these risks pay off, other times not so much, but we’re willing to do so for the chance of making our short time here all the more worthwhile. In this week’s issue of Mirror, we encourage you to take a leap of faith and join us as we explore the various risks we take — from sharing spaces with people who at first glance may seem to hold very different values than us, to choosing an unconventional career path. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in.
“Leap of faith.” What comes to mind? Many of us have grown up hearing this phrase associated with optimism or hope, but I wonder what ties it to fear. Though varied, here are some insightful thoughts on perceiving the “upcoming” and the “unknown” from your very own seniors on campus.
I am sure many of you have taken a leap of faith and applied to study abroad. The application deadline was Feb. 1. If you didn’t, I recommend that you do next year. My two terms abroad, in Spain and Cuba, have been my richest learning experiences at Dartmouth. However, merely signing up for a program is not enough. It is up to you to maximize your time abroad.