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Of Note: Orientation Blog

Eric Ramsey, Senior Assistant Dean of the College and Director of the Collis Center

Eric Ramsey, Dean of Student Life

Welcome to Of Note. Here you'll find notes, advice and recommendations from Eric Ramsey, Dean of Student Life. We hope that you'll find these posts interesting, informative and helpful as you prepare to arrive on campus in the fall.

As always, please reach out if you have any questions and check back regularly for more!

Post Three | July 29, 2015

Great news, incoming students! Your Shared Academic Experience is about to begin: we have mailed Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler.


The package also contains the following note:

July 21, 2015

Greetings incoming students!

This mailing contains your first academic assignment at Dartmouth College. Participating in programming associated with the enclosed reading and attending the Shared Academic Experience Lecture are essential components of New Student Orientation and you are expected to engage fully.

Dr. Thalia Wheatley, associate professor in Psychological and Brain Sciences, was selected by the Dean of the Faculty to facilitate the Class of 2019 Shared Academic Experience. Dr. Wheatley will be leading your class through this experience, so please be sure to look for information from her as we get closer to the program during Orientation.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Wheatley for her commitment to this intellectual exploration and the Sphinx Foundation for their financial support in making this mailing possible.

Best wishes,

Eric Ramsey
Dean of Student Life and
Director of New Student Orientation

We will talk again soon, and continue to hope you are well!
Your friends at New Student Orientation

Post Two | July 22, 2015

Hello again, incoming class.

Greetings from Maine! I just spent a beautiful weekend here with lots of sunshine and time with family and friends. Being away from Dartmouth has been refreshing; it reminded me how busy life has been over the past few weeks. One of the most daunting tasks I recently faced was relocating my office. Though my new office is still in the same building — the Collis Center for Student Involvement — it nevertheless required going through so much “stuff.” It is amazing what one person can accumulate over eight years. Almost every item had a story or memory associated with it. In my reflection on how difficult it was to move offices, I realized many of you are starting to pack and sort your belongings to come to Dartmouth. After all, September is just around the corner. 

As we continue to eagerly prepare for your arrival, I know we have added to the amount of stuff you are sorting. I truly am amazed by the amount of information that you are receiving: survey requests, housing assignment, academic information such as EXPLORE, ENGAGE, EXCEL, and many other communications, both from Dartmouth's official channels and from your peers in places like the Class of 2019 Facebook group.

Part of your college transition involves learning how to look at all sorts of information and find your own way within it. When you arrive here you will find yourself in a whole new world, one where information will be coming at you from a variety of sources: faculty, academic departments and programs, student organizations, campus centers, your friends and family ... the list goes on. It may seem overwhelming, but I challenge you to see it as a path-finding and identity-building opportunity.

A large part of your identity will be in the classroom. Finding courses that interest you, collaborating with faculty and other students, exploring major (and maybe minor) areas of study, and everything that comes with academic discovery: these will be very formative over your time at Dartmouth. Beyond that, a great number of you will connect with communities in other areas: perhaps as a member of a pre-professional group like the Association of Women in Mathematics, a vocalist in an a cappella group like the Cords or the Rockapellas, a member of a special interest group like the Ecovores or Coffee Club, or even as a walk-on for a varsity sport like Rowing.

It is not lost on me that, before you came to Dartmouth, some of you were most likely involved in fifteen different organizations; you are all remarkable people, and capable of juggling high school classwork and extra-curricular activities successfully. However, I would like you to consider, as you make new academic and co-curricular choices here, that in college, depth is sometimes more important than breadth. Academics are a primary focus of your college experience, and I think you will find that becoming deeply involved inside and outside of the classroom will be both a challenge and an opportunity as you transition to Dartmouth.

The first few weeks of Fall term will be filled with chances to learn and find your way as part of our great College on the Hill. I'm willing to bet you'll find fifty different organizations, courses, and other things in which you would love to be involved. This is great, and I think it speaks to just how many amazing opportunities you'll have at Dartmouth. I encourage you, as part of your time management considerations, to think carefully about what matters to you and how you want to dedicate your time during your journey at Dartmouth. You are how you spend your time — make sure you spend it doing things that communicate who you are and where you want to go, as well as things that make you feel good about yourself and your community. Good luck continuing to sort through all the information we pass on to you, though I know that you all will do just fine.

We are as excited as you to see what your time at Dartmouth will bring and how you all will contribute to our community. Keep sending me your questions — I look forward to writing again soon.


Post One | July 14, 2015

Hello incoming students! Happy summer!

I’ll start by introducing myself: I'm Eric Ramsey, and while I wear a few different hats at Dartmouth, right now you'll know me as the Director of New Student Orientation.

Dartmouth has been hard at work for months already, preparing for your arrival this fall. Colleagues from all over campus have joined me in planning opportunities for you to experience the breadth of Dartmouth's offerings, always with the goal of ensuring your successful transition into our community. We are so excited about the programs and events we have developed for Orientation. 

Our journey together will begin in earnest when you get here. As that day approaches, we are spending a great deal of time thinking about you: where you come from, your unique and diverse backgrounds, and the amazing perspectives you'll bring with you to Dartmouth. Learning about academics at Dartmouth and electing Fall Term courses will be your highest priority during Orientation. However, we are also committed to sharing with you very important information about living here — not only all the amazing aspects of our “College on the Hill,” but also all the things you need to know to fully participate in our community and feel at home at Dartmouth. Figuring out how to share this information is no easy task, and none of us takes this responsibility lightly. We all care very deeply about you and will work tirelessly to ensure that you have every opportunity to shine in your time at Dartmouth.

In support of that commitment to your successful transition, I will be writing to you in the weeks leading up to Orientation. Be sure to bookmark this page because every week I will post little pieces of advice or recommendations that resonate with me personally. Sometimes the posting will be something that is on my mind; other times it may be an update on Orientation. It is important to me that you have a face you can link to the communication you receive. I look forward to playing a very helpful role in your introduction to Dartmouth.

To help me formulate my blog, I want to extend an invitation to you: ENGAGE. Let me know what you're thinking and feeling. Share your hopes and dreams, and your fears and questions — especially your questions. You may find that your questions shape a future posting.

Watch for more communication from me in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please reach out to me with anything that might be on your mind. My personal email address is I can't wait to hear from you, and I will see you soon.


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Last Updated: 7/28/15