Apr 012014

To start off,
Congratulations to the great (potential) class of 2018! It honestly feels like yesterday that I was on cloud 9 thinking about Dartmouth and the future and it all seemed so faraway and too good to be real! I hope you all share these sentiments and are excited about the Big Green! We, “upperclassmen” I suppose, are psyched to welcome you all at Dimensions and to have you stay with us and meet us and contact us, and hopefully join us next term.

For those of you that did not quite make it, I am sure you must be frustrated- take the time to be upset/disappointed. Your feelings are totally valid. That said, Dartmouth is obviously not the only school in which you can enjoy yourself and have a great experience- and I wish you the best of luck! And please remember that not being accepted somewhere does NOT define you as a person! So many other factors – some outside your control- come into play and you should not take it personally.

On another note, this is the second week of Spring Term. One thing I love about those first few days of the term is how easy it is to start fresh; make new friends, take new classes, and join a new organization! At the same time, the terms go by so fast that it already feels like we’ve been back for a while. This weekend, the Dartmouth Model UN club hosted its ninth annual conference for high school students, and it was really fun to be part of a big secretariat team and to spend all weekend together trying to pull off a successful event. So yeah, that was definitely a big part of my Spring Term (despite it lasting for just 3 days) that I wanted to share with you all. dartmun


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Mar 282014

At 5PM EST yesterday, I was sitting in One Wheelock doing orgo problems as students across the world were receiving word about some of their college acceptances.

The most important relevant of these being Dartmouth. To all the ’18s, congratulations!!! If you haven’t decided yet whether you want to be an ’18 or not, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at: claire.park.16@dartmouth.edu. If you’re planning on visiting, I’d be happy to meet up with you for tea/coffee (on me, of course) on campus!

As for what advice I have to give, or anything I have to share about acceptances, just two:

1) Have an amazing senior spring (if you are in high school) and summer before college. Go crazy within reason and be sure to spend time with your people.

2) With orgo weighing heavily on my mind, I’m reminded of what Professor Aprahamian says at least three times a class period (literally), “If you don’t understand this concept, solve problems. If you do understand it, solve problems. Solve problems, solve problems, solve problems”. I’d like to say that wherever you decide to commit, I hope that you will take college as an opportunity to grow and be better prepared to solve problems. That’s what I look forward to from you ’18s. No evil, as one blogger put it, and much much good!

I’ll end with a froofy little picture of my friends and me after decorating our high school graduation caps, and congratulations again!

my friends were clever in decorating their caps backwards...

my friends were clever in decorating their caps backwards for the sake of our paparazzi parents during graduation…



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Mar 282014

This short post is sent with a lot of love:

Welcome to Dartmouth 18′s! We are very excited to have you as a part of the Dartmouth community! You all are great and talented! Welcome, welcome, and another big welcome to Dartmouth :).




Mar 282014

First and foremost, congratulations to the Dartmouth Class of 2018!  Your hard work has paid off and we couldn’t be any more proud of you.  Even though you’re objectively the worst class ever, we’re pretty impressed.

It’s gonna be hard to say something that the rest of the bloggers haven’t already covered, so I’ll keep this brief.  Dartmouth is real, it’s scary, it’s exciting, it’s happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way.  And you’re gonna rock it.

Taylor Swift did not go to Dartmouth, but she probably would have written some good songs about it.

Due to a combination of factors (impending graduation, fundraising for the senior class gift, writing this blog post, watching “Garden State”) I’ve been pretty nostalgic lately.  And I couldn’t be happier about that.  I’ve made memories strong enough to last me until now.  I have something that makes it hard to say goodbye.  So I guess that’s the best advice I can give you – spend the rest of high school making some memories that will make it hard to say goodbye (or at least give you good stories when you get to college).

South Park describes my life disconcertingly well.

You’re on the verge of one of the biggest steps in your life – enjoy it.  Seriously, don’t overthink it.  Do what feels right when you’re making your college pick.  You’ll be ok.

One of my favorite parts of “Garden State” is when Natalie Portman tells Zach Braff that he needs to do something ridiculous because “…this is your one opportunity to do something that no one has ever done before and that no one will copy throughout human existence. And if nothing else, you will be remembered as the one guy who ever did this…”  Nobody else is going to take the same path through Dartmouth that you do, so all you can do is make it count.  Of course, don’t worry too much about making yourself unique, you already will be.  The biggest realization I had during my freshman year was that I spent so much time trying to figure out who I wanted to be that I forgot to be myself.  (It was also the most cliche moment of my life.)

Anyway, congratulations again.  Enjoy senior spring.  Come to Dimensions.  I’ll get a meal with you.  I’m not kidding, email me at sjd@dartmouth.edu and say you read this on my admissions blog.  I will be so happy that people actually read this that I’ll probably buy you a cookie or something.  Most of all, welcome home.

Mar 272014

Before I welcome you officially, I invite you to consider the dauntingly impressive achievement you have just made.  Getting into college is notoriously difficult; so much so that books, magazines, even movies have delved into the mysterious methodology behind admissions decisions.  Now that you’re on the other side of that river, take a moment to reflect.

Think about your friends, family, and anyone else who may have supported you during the application process.

Think about the multitudes of high-achieving, high-aspiring students who may not have been offered admission.

Think about your own hard work, the many hours spent studying, practicing, training, and generally not sleeping.

And now…

Congratulations for being accepted! I can’t wait to see all your faces around campus during Dimensions.

From all of us in Hanover, WELCOME HOME ’18s!


Post Scriptum: A Note for the Waitlisters

If, like me last year,  you found yourself placed on Dartmouth’s waitlist, I wish you good luck.  The waitlist is an unhappy place, tantalizing its members with the perpetual possibility of acceptance, but constantly reminding them of the likelihood of ultimate rejection.  Keep working hard, prove your love of Dartmouth, and you may eventually be offered admission.  Stay patient, don’t get frustrated, and remember that no admission letter will ever matter more than your personality and character.

Mar 272014

Dearest ‘18s,

Congratulations! It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that more than a year has passed since I was in your place. Go ahead, celebrate. You deserve to.

(But try and show up to your classes still. Set two alarms, or three, or five. Let senioritis get the best of you only twice every week.)

People may have told you that Dartmouth prepares you for the real world. I’m going to use this post to declare to you and the world that that’s a lie. You know why? Because Dartmouth is the real world.
After my acceptance to Dartmouth, my Facebook inbox and wall were full of links to articles about Dartmouth in recent media. About a 78.36% of you have very likely read similar articles already along with 208 posts titled “Is the Greek system really that bad omg should I go to Brown instead??????!!!!!!” on College Confidential. If any of you are slightly disenchanted, I can’t blame you because the concern is only natural. I arrived on campus after flying for twenty-six hours with a migraine attack and an overnight stay at the Logan airport. I had definitely crossed the luggage limit with my three suitcases, two hand-carry bags, eight pounds of disenchantment and five pounds of nervousness, but carrying all of that around campus on my own self was a dire impossibility. That day, people I had just met on my way helped me carry everything to my dorm (thank you, grad students and HCroo). Whenever I talk about Dartmouth, I mention the people a lot. At Dartmouth, you’ll come across people and problems from time to time that remind you of the horrors often associated with the real world. Like the real world, you’ll get hurt and you’ll make mistakes. You’ll hate yourself a little bit for making those mistakes. The one thing that makes Dartmouth an amazing version of the real world, though, is how easy it is to find ordinary miracles around you in the community.

Dear ‘18s, I absolutely do not discourage you from reading the pieces about the problems of Dartmouth, because they are going to be your problems soon. We want you here with us as all of us together are trying to make this college a better place. Promise me one thing, though. Don’t pull a Prodhi and be thoroughly disenchanted before you come here, but don’t think of Dartmouth as a world separated from the “real world” either. When they talk about the Greek system on campus, they don’t tell you about laughing at yourself when you bounce the ball on another table across the basement in your first few pong games. They don’t tell you about the brothers who assure you that you’ll get better at it eventually and how they were worse at it their freshman year as you stand there red-faced at your lack of coordination. They don’t tell you about dancing in basements to Avicii or Zedd or fratrap with friends. Like the real world, you are going to make choices for yourself. You’ll drink sometimes, like Alex had mentioned in another post—or maybe not. Either way, when they talk about alcohol issues at Dartmouth, they don’t tell you about deep inebriated and sober conversations with your friends and floormates about hookups and heartbreaks and the things you learn about yourself along the way. Someday, you’ll only do fifteen possibly-stupid things over the course of a weekend night and pat yourself on the back. Someday, you’ll learn to not check your cellphone, Facebook and Blitz “sent”-boxes after such nights for your own health. A friend you want to be closer to will sleep over talking to you the whole night as you pour your heart out and take care of you, because you look like you need it. Your floormate will ask you if you’re okay as your sniffling in the bathroom cubicle sounded a lot like sobbing. You will have conversations that leave a mark on you (sometimes late into the night) in Novack and KAF and Morano. Throughout your conversations, you will agree and disagree; you will have your own ideas challenged and challenge somebody else’s ideas. I myself realized that Dartmouth was the real world when a ’14 I had been talking to brought it up. Most importantly, you will learn. Through every little thing that you do here, you will learn and you will find magic in so many people around you. You will learn to accept yourself and learn how to be better. You will learn how to professionally deliver presentations in the presence of a distractingly attractive individual in your classroom. You will learn about yourself as you walk into the office hours of your Sociology professor and start talking about feeling like a bro (which of course leads into the discussion of gender constructs and interaction). You will learn that having a planner makes the biggest difference in the world.

You will learn how to be yourself– the real you, the real person. Could there be a world more real than the place where that happens?

Welcome to the Real World, my lovely ’18s. I can’t wait to meet you all.

Mar 272014


I’m going to tell you how to be the best Worst Class Ever.

Unlike my boy Alex Libre ‘16, who just confessed his timid inability to share the secrets of the Dartmouth Experience, I’m about to mother-bird some heaping helpings of “awesome, all-encompassing, inspiring advice for what to expect in the next chapter of your life” straight into your peeping little freshman maws. Chew slowly and savor it.

Step One: Crack open six root beers, pour them them into plastic cups (extra foam), garnish with a dirty ping pong ball. Now drink them all in under 10 seconds. Now read everything you can on the internet related to lacrosse, heteronormativity and Dr. Seuss. Done? Congratulations, you’ve just won Dartmouth in miniature.

It should actually look quite like this.

Step Two: Recognize that getting into Dartmouth isn’t the greatest accomplishment of your entire life. It’s a big deal, but honestly, not THAT big. When, in hoary ages past, former President Jim Kim lifted my glowing application from the stack of MAYBE’s and deposited in the sacrosanct vessel of YES’s, he did not automatically confer upon me some guaranteed future of prestige, fanfare, endless cash, Keystone and yachts festooned with pretty girls and first edition English novels. If I want those things (and I DO) I have to get them for myself, starting on Day One. Your freshman grades and your freshmen friendships matter more than any others because they will cut you the deepest, infecting you with the personal standards that will predominate internally for the next four years. So amid the neon Bacchanalia of Trips and Orientation, remember your mission here is simple: work hard and do great things.

Pictured: Former President Jim Kim, notably not the sole architect of AP15′s success.

Step Three: Develop a Stockholm Syndrome-y relationship with some place. I like the 1902 Room, the Graveyard, and the cluster of pine trees behind Zete. It’s nice to have a home base where you can collect your thoughts and settle down from time to time.

A nice place to take a summer afternoon nap. I’ve literally rested in peace here.

Step Four: Don’t be evil. For the love of Jove, please don’t do evil things. Every once in a while, step back ask yourself “Is what I’m doing evil? Am I setting a good example? Are my actions hurting other people?” Recent research has suggested that just asking this question of oneself once per week could prevent upwards of 17.69% of all evil.

Pictured: Pure evil. Immorality is B-Side anyway.

Step Five: Do all the stupid traditions, but make fun of them the whole time. Ledyard Challenge, Dartmouth 7, Touch The Fire, pictures with Keggy. Trust me, these are all monumentally idiotic, banal, hyped-up endeavors. But do them anyway. Self-congratulatory Outsiders have nothing to be proud of. Don’t fall prey to their siren song either. Participate, but make sure your actions always contain a healthy infusion of irreverence.

Pictured: Ivy League Students.

Final Step: (This is the most important step of all. Steps 1-5 were just foreplay.)

Make someone your hero. So much of the good that’s done at Dartmouth takes the form of protest, criticism, calling out injustice and evil. This is important, but we constantly forget to make space for worshiping the people who do creative, not destructive good. There are many vague and uninspiring institutions in place at Dartmouth for celebrating others, and you can join them if you like. But take the time to find people whom you can love and revere for their own sake, and on your own terms. By far the greatest spans of happiness I’ve enjoyed in the past three years are owed almost entirely to my relationships with just a few people. A 12, a 14, a few 15s and a 17. These people kept me from drowning and irreparable collapse into the dark, arctic, alcoholic slushhole that Hanover sometimes feels like. Find these people for yourself. You will never forget them.

Where have all the good men gone? And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules? To fight the rising odds?

That’s just about all I got for now. If you didn’t really read this whole post, the basic gist is: drink root beer, don’t be evil, stay sassy.

Beloved 18s, I want you to realize you have big shoes to fill. Every year in late spring when the seniors graduate, Dartmouth loses a thousand geniuses, beauty queens and individuals of indomitable irony in a burst of early summer fire. By fall, the phoenix of Dartmouth will swallow you all and resurrect itself anew from amid the ashes. It is up to you to make life beautiful.

Extra Credit: Say hi to my little brother Braden Pellowski ‘18. He’s a teeny bit shy but is in desperate need of love and friendly affection. Anything from a smile to a Collis coffee date would really boost his whole day!



Mar 272014

Coming back to Dartmouth after a term abroad is a little like coming to college for the first time; you don’t know what will have changed, what will stay the same, or what new people you’ll meet. During my time studying abroad in Rome, I kept tabs on the school in the same slightly maniacal way that I did over the summer before my freshman year, watching the days tick by, counting down the time until my return. I even over-eagerly initiated Facebook chats with people I was only tangentially acquainted with, and made questionable Friendsy decisions. All of this reminded me of my excitement and anticipation about joining the Dartmouth community for the first time, and I think that it speaks to the power of Dartmouth that even after five terms, I couldn’t wait to get back. It wasn’t only FOMO (fear of missing out) that made me anxious to return, but the community and energy of Dartmouth. Now that I’m back, I’m once again impressed by the capabilities and quirks of my amazing classmates, the surprising ability of campus to still be beautiful under a thick layer of by-now-sort-of-brownish snow (there won’t always be snow, guys, I promise), and the intelligence and legitimate interest of the professors (we aren’t number one in undergraduate teaching for nothing, y’all).


The thing that I missed most while I was gone, though, was meeting new people. New people like YOU, future ’18s! I missed meeting new friends-of-friends at at-first-awkward-but-rapidly-turning-into-okay FoCo dinners, connecting with strangers in the line for the mail center, and making new friends in the mozzarella stick line at Late Night Collis. Dartmouth students never get tired of meeting new people, and we can’t wait to meet you! Whether it’s at Dimensions, on a visit, or as a member of the class of 2018 (or some combination! Do two! Do all three! Come to Dimensions! Come to Dartmouth! I’m serious!), we can’t wait to welcome you to your new home. Congratulations on your acceptance, now get over here!

Mar 272014

I’m someone who appreciates the destination, oftentimes more than the journey. Sometimes the destination is Boston and the journey is a 7-hour flight from Amsterdam. Sometimes the destination is summer and the journey is 10 weeks of 200-pages-of-primary-text-reading-a-week-and-4-tests-and-3-papers. Sometimes the destination is your bed and the journey is a treacherous walk across the windy arctic tundra known as the green (these are not all hypothetical situations).

The journey is not always short and easy — it could take some mental, physical, or emotional training, and it could last for years. There may have been road signs, hitchhikers, potholes, gas stations, bed and breakfasts, sunsets, thunderstorms, etc. At times along the journey, you may have lose sight of your destination, but even in the midst of your frustration, you may have been reassured that the destination is still there and within reach.

My most recent journey was a 3-hour ride on the Dartmouth Coach from the Boston airport. I had just finished my term abroad in Paris, and I was kind of dreading this ride, to be honest. Spending three hours confined on a bus in your smelly airplane clothes with your stale chocolate croissant in your hand, your notebooks in your heavy backpack reminding you of the impending academic doom, and your sentimental playlist on shuffle is not always the most thrilling thing to be doing on a beautiful weekend afternoon. But as soon as I saw Leede Arena on my left and Baker Tower peeking out above the trees, I was relieved — I had finally reached my destination. I had finally come home.

One of the coolest things about starting college is the inevitable fact that you’re going to meet a lot of different people with various backgrounds, interests, and talents — aspects of their lives that have shaped who they are. I’ve met people with perfect ACT scores, national windsurfing champions, cellists-turned-cross-country-skiers, speech and debate stars, dedicated cyclists who have ridden from Alaska to Argentina, and aspiring DJs. And all of this diversity comes together to create a community in which you will find yourself grow and your mind expand. These are going to be your friends, your mentors, your challengers, your supporters, your econ tutors, your crushes, etc. who have spent about 18 years taking journeys different than yours but with the same destination in mind.

For the ’18s who have Dartmouth as their destination in the fall, CONGRATULATIONS! Your pre-college life is coming to an end, and the arguably most exciting 4 years are about to begin. We’re here, waiting for you at the finish line with trays of warm Foco chocolate chip cookies, decked out in flair. Just one final stretch over the river and through the woods — whether by train, by plane, by car, by foot, by bike, by boat, by bus, by wagon, by UFO (we don’t judge) — to your new big green home you go.

Mar 272014

To the newest members of Dartmouth: Congratulations, ‘18s!

Image of Baker Library Clock Tower with Green in Front

I wish I could give you some awesome, all-encompassing, inspiring advice for what to expect in the next chapter of your life, but to be honest, I can’t. No one can. As clichéd as it may sound, every person has—and will continue to have—a different experience as they transition into college. But what I can tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that lots of things are about to change.

You’ll be a Dartmouth student. You’ll probably share a bathroom with complete strangers, and frequently find hair in the drain that doesn’t belong to you. You’ll take classes with professors who redefine your idea of “smart”. You may drink (your first?) beer, and quite possibly do a stupid thing or two as a result. But even those “stupid” things that you’ll regret will be valuable—in some sense you shouldn’t regret them at all. There are thousands and thousands of people who would give up their lucrative careers and prestigious positions to be you right now. Don’t forget that.

Also, having gotten into Dartmouth, you’ve done pretty well so far. So relax, you no longer need to be the valedictorian or chess guru or class president or cancer-curing scientific prodigy. These may have been important parts of who you were in high school, but you now have the opportunity to be exactly who you want to be.

Sure, many aspects of life here will challenge you in ways you can’t adequately anticipate. You’ll be surrounded by people who will seem to be better than you at everything you once thought made you great. You’ll learn not to compare yourself to others for self-esteem; it doesn’t go over well here. Instead, you’ll make some good friends, some great friends, and some people who make you feel so good you won’t care about the fact that the guy down the hall can bench twice as much as you and scored two standard deviations above the median on that Econ test you barely passed. You’ll make mistakes, forget to do your reading for the philosophy class you didn’t think met on Tuesdays, and probably end up kissing a few of the supposed strangers who share a bathroom with you.

But in all seriousness, college will present a completely novel set of challenges. For many of them, you will be grossly unprepared (but so will everyone else, regardless of how well-prepared they may pretend to be!). Furthermore, there will inevitably be times when your self-esteem suffers. Regardless of how self-confident you are right now or how easy school is for you or how great you are at singing or how many girls you’ve hooked up with or how you can shotgun a beer faster than any of your high school friends, everything is about to change. But don’t worry—it’s for the better. I promise.

People don’t call it the best four years of your life for nothing. In fact, I truly believe that my freshman year was the best of my nineteen so far. Take a deep breath, remember who you are, and join the club.

Welcome to Dartmouth—and in the meantime, enjoy your senior spring!IMG_3388image-2