Aug 162012

I promise I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

With the summer quarter almost over and finals beyond the horizon, the pace of Dartmouth life has been swift with great impact. Looking back, it surprises me just how much the classes here have engaged and taught me how to look at life from another perspective. Take astronomy: we learned everything from basic physics to supernovae to the big questions like: How big is the universe and how did life begin?

These big questions always throw me in for a loop. I take a step back and remember how amazing life is and how small the human race’s timeline is relative to the astronomical age of the universe. It seems to me that even if we had an iota of an impact on the universe, compared to the vast expanses of the galaxy and beyond, we still remain infinitesimally small. These humbling thoughts are both exciting and frightening to me at the same time. They further propel my belief that given the grand scheme of the universe, we should aim to make a dent on the universe in our lives.

Beyond this philosophizing about the universe, it’s interesting to witness just how much what you study influences your ideas and thought patterns. When I took accounting last winter quarter, I thought in a very rigorous, systematic way, always analyzing the smallest details and making sure each step of it was correct. When I took computer science, I sought to implement the optimized teachings and algorithms into my own life. And as an econ major, I realize that knowledge has increasing returns to scale.


Mar 292012

Hey guys! First of all CONGRATULATIONS on getting into Dartmouth. Here’s a link to my post to the early decision sixteens. Much of this applies to all of you as well.

Over the next few weeks you guys will be making one of the most important decisions of your life. Many of you might have excellent offers from other colleges as well and are closely looking at every aspect of every college to make sure you make the right decision. I was in the same position exactly a year ago. Today, while writing this post, I am filled with immense happiness and pride for choosing Dartmouth which ended up being the perfect choice for me. Although it’s probably true that Dartmouth may not be for everybody, but trust me, Dartmouth’s versatility and welcoming nature ensures that most people will have the best time of their life at this institution!

So the major question is why should you choose Dartmouth? You’ll probably find thousands of answers to that question. I’ll just add some of my own experiences to that list.

One major thing you’ll always hear about Dartmouth is the focus on undergraduate studies. Trust me that is NO joke! All classes are taught by professors. They also have additional office hours when you can ask them for help or just have a nice chat with them. To see world class professors working extremely hard for you is truly inspirational and you can find that at Dartmouth! This is one of the biggest and most important reasons i’m completely in love with Dartmouth!

Next is the versatility. This is something I’ve talked about in my previous posts. Dartmouth has something for everybody. You meet loads of different kinds of people and all of them have made their place in this wonderful institute. For example, coming from Pakistan my favorite sport has always been Cricket. Coming to the US, I assumed that I probably will not get to play cricket during my time here. However I was in for an amazing surprise when I found out that Dartmouth actually had a cricket club. I get to play cricket every single week here. Many people have had similar experiences with their passions. Sometimes when there actually isn’t an official organization for you, then you can easily create one. Best thing is that you will almost always get both funding from Dartmouth as well as support from peers, administration as well as professors. It’s magnificent!

I’m sure that many of you will already have heard of the amazing study abroad opportunities, the flexible schedule, amazing internships, world class resources, and the millions of other things Dartmouth has to offer. All of these together make Dartmouth a really magical institute. However something that struck me the most was the amount of love students have for this college. People are actually passionate about making it a better place and almost everyone wholeheartedly believes in the greatness of this institution. I’ve also talked about a magical feeling associated with being here in some of my previous posts. The best thing about this feeling is that it keeps increasing over time. As I said, each week brings something new, presents a new challenge, and gives us the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and emotionally.

Overall, I’d just like to say that you guys are a really lucky bunch. Think about your college choices carefully, but speaking from experience I HIGHLY recommend Dartmouth! I am super excited to see you all on campus and I can’t wait to see all of you soon! Make the most of your last few pre-college months!

Nov 232011

I have way too much fun planning.  I think classes are my favorite thing to plan about my time at Dartmouth.  You know how on Macs, they have the “Top Sites” page when you open up a new tab?  Well my Banner account, where you go to pick classes, is listed there now…with other sites like Youtube, my favorite web comics, Gmail, and Sporcle.  I think I look at classes more than I watch television or surf Facebook.  That’s a good thing, right? (Just nod your head, it will make me feel better.)

There are just so many possibilities to consider.  Class topic, professor, time – sometimes it gets to be a bit much because I literally can’t hold all the information in my head.  I don’t mind courses in the morning or going to class on TuTh (Tuesdays and Thursdays) in addition to MWF (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), but a lot of my friends choose courses that only meet later on MWF.  Then there are the distributives that they fulfill, which I’m not really worrying about right now, but eventually I’ll be looking for a CI, TMV, etc.  I apologize for my abbreviations – I think it’s another sign I’ve spent way too much time on Banner.  Anyways, I especially like looking at the teachers’ reviews, especially on the site that the Hacker Club resurrected (don’t worry, “hacking” is another word for Programming, and the Hacker Club works on some awesome projects).  A great teacher can make you really enjoy thinking about subjects that you’ve never thought about before.

Speaking of new subjects, it’s my goal to take at least one crazy, creative, out-of-the-box course each term.  On the agenda for winter term: ethnomusicology, in which I’ll learn about non-western music whilst playing musical instruments I’ve probably never seen before and learning from visiting musicians.  To work towards my goal, I’m already planning (no surprises there) a list of interesting courses that I want to take by the time I graduate.

D-planning is harder to do as a freshman in my opinion, especially because there are so many variables up in the air.  Most freshman take summer off, but I don’t mind staying on-campus if it means I can land a really interesting internship or study abroad program some other term.  D-planning started with my nearly-obsessed friend (you know who you are :P, but no judgment, since I clearly cannot judge anyone).  I caught the disease from her, and now I’ve come up with a tentative plan for my first three years here (let’s not mention the hours that went into that).  D-Planning also leads to discussions about housing next year with my friends, which I won’t even go into here – it’s complicated.

Anyways, when it’s course registration time, I tend to get very little work done.  It’s a pity that course registration opened just before midterms, but I did fine on my tests, so no worries.  But now that’s its Thanksgiving break, I can relax, do a little studying (not go on Banner…hopefully that part works out), and reconnect with my family and friends from back home.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Nov 192011

One of the reasons that I chose Dartmouth was because I heard that students really get to know their professors, and I haven’t been disappointed.  As a first-year student, I expected some larger classes, so I thought that I wouldn’t get to interact with my professors on a personal level until sophomore or junior year.  My classes, however, are small–50 people, 16 people, and 15 people, respectively.  Even in the 50-person class, I have a real relationship with my professor.  Not only does she know my name, but she also knows my personality.

Last night, I brought my professor from my first-year seminar to a dinner that was specifically organized for students to bring their professors.  My friends and I got to talk to my professor for a few hours, which was really valuable because I learned where her unique perspective in class comes from based on her background.  Yet, the dinner was not the first time that I got to talk with my professor.  I often go to office hours to talk to her about current events from a critical geographical perspective.

Whether through organized events, office hours, or simply classroom interactions, I’ve really gotten to know my professors, and they’ve gotten to know me too.  If you come to Dartmouth, I’m sure that you’ll have a similar experience.

Oct 102011

I have my first midterm in two days. My biggest question is how did four weeks pass by so quickly?! I blink and a week is over. Anyways, I want to devote this entry to where I found help when I needed it.

I always considered myself a good student in high school, as does everybody else I’ve met here (and for good reason). I used to look over my notes and homework and do just fine on tests and assignments in the past, but I found out that this isn’t enough here. There will come a time at Dartmouth when you also will need help since the classes here try to challenge you to think like you haven’t before.

I reached out for help in math first. The professor mentioned something called a “tutorial” at the beginning of the term, but I shoved that to the back of my mind thinking that I probably wouldn’t need that. After a difficult lecture and an even more difficult homework assignment, I found myself stopping by the room listed for the tutorial on the syllabus. When I opened the door and stepped in, a graduate student came over, introduced herself and asked if I needed any help. What a welcome question after I had spent far too long staring at the problems, looking through the book, and trying different approaches in vain! The rest of the session, I worked on problems until I hit a rut and  then asked for help to get individual attention. I fully advocate the use of tutorials for math!

In my other subjects, I’ve talked to my professors at office hours multiple times. They are always happy to help, and they take an interest in you, too. The professor for my writing seminar answered all my questions in 20 minutes, and we proceeded to talk about other interesting subjects for another 40 minutes. I personally thought those types of conversations with professors were a thing of myth before I came here to Dartmouth.

Speaking of my writing seminar class, I recently had a paper due. I had a rough draft of my essay done a couple days before the deadline, but even after editing it a bit, I felt like I wasn’t writing at a “college-level”. Going to RWIT, a free resource that helps students with research and writing, made me more sure of myself and what professors are looking to see in essays.

Then there are my fellow classmates, who are always looking out for each other. In my classes with midterms, I have already formed little study groups, and we’ve been planning study sessions and guiding each other through rough patches in our understanding. I also tutor for a peer-tutoring service run through the Academic Skills Center (another great resource) as well, so you can seek out long-term individual help for your classes as well.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I have had multiple study parties with my friends. Though most people don’t want to think of studying as part of college life, it is something you will have to deal with anywhere you go. At Dartmouth, it is made easier and more enjoyable that you may think. Finding help while preparing for midterms made me realize that we are not alone in our studies.