Eric Ramsey, Senior Assistant Dean of the College and Director of the Collis Center
Welcome to Of Note. Here you'll find notes, advice and recommendations from Eric Ramsey, Senior Assistant Dean of the College and Director of the Collis Center. 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!
Hello again Class of 2018 and Transfer Students!
I hope you have enjoyed your Orientation week so far! It has been an absolute pleasure welcoming you all to Dartmouth and seeing so many of you attending the wide variety of programs and events across campus these past few days. I was particularly impressed by your words shared during the First Meeting of the Class, and by your attendance at important morning events like Navigating Orientation and Introduction to the Curriculum on Wednesday, and Professor Osterberg's For Our Common Climate lecture yesterday morning.
You have hit another milestone today with your completion of the course election process! I know that it can be difficult to pick just three classes, and I'm glad to hear that you have utilized the wealth of resources at your disposal (faculty advisors, undergraduate deans, UGAs, academic open houses and many others) in making educated course selections.
This weekend — which is, for many of you, your first weekend at Dartmouth — will be a fun and exciting time. We know just how busy and tiring Orientation can be, so please make sure you take time for yourself and relax: tonight is a great night for that. All of you will be attending Sex Signals on Saturday, and it is essential that you are on time and ready to engage with this important required programming. We will be reviewing attendance logs from events where your ID cards were swiped upon entrance, and we look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow at Sex Signals (please remember your ID).
I look forward to seeing you all again at the Twilight Ceremony on Sunday evening. This event will culminate Orientation on the eve of the College's 245th year; it will be wonderful for us all to see you come together as a class, and as the newest members of the Dartmouth community. We will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m., as the sun sets just after 7:00 p.m. Again — we expect to see you at the Collis porch on time. We intend for this event to be profound and meaningful; while you do not have to wear "formal" attire, please dress respectfully and be mindful of your footwear, as we will encounter both a dirt path and (possibly wet) grass at the Bema.
Thank you, truly, for your attention and participation this week. I hope you have a fun and safe weekend, and I will see you on Sunday evening.
Hello '18s, transfers, and exchange students! We are the Orientation Team, and we are working hard to support you all throughout Pre-Orientation and Orientation. Eric asked us if there's anything we wanted to say to you, and so we got together and have written the following to share with you! We hope that you — just like us at the Collis Center — are excited about your arrival to Hanover.
With all of the energy surrounding moving here, meeting people, and starting a new chapter, there are a few things that you may not have checked off your packing list yet. That's where we, your friendly O-Team, come in! We put together a list of things that we thought were important to a successful first year in college, and that are often forgotten at home. In no particular order, here is the list:
For those of you who are not from Hanover (which many of you aren't), being at Dartmouth may mean leaving things that you are comfortable and familiar with already. Wherever you call home, bring some of that with you — a picture, a map, a jar of sand, whatever — for the days in which you start to miss the things you left behind. Remembering where you come from is important to establishing your roots at a new place.
College is hard. If someone told you otherwise, tsk tsk. Let us correct that now: there will be times in which you will struggle. Whether they are educational, personal, or social, challenges will surely arise during your time here. Being able to keep a positive mindset about the situation at hand will help you out in the long run even if things do not get immediately better. Positivity is necessary to keeping afloat and seeking the necessary resources to making things work.
College is about trying new things and learning about yourself: simply by coming to college in Hanover, New Hampshire, many of you have demonstrated some willingness to try new things. Try to continue explore new things while you're at Dartmouth. It's often when you leave your comfort zone that you learn the most - both about yourself and others (trite, we know, but true). Challenge yourself to do an extracurricular you never would've done in high school, take that class outside your field, jump at the opportunity to meet new people. Don't let that comfort zone hold you back. You might be scared about what could happen, but it's even scarier to think of what you could miss.
Failing is never an enjoyable experience: no one likes failing at something they set out to do! However, it's an inevitable part of life, like homework or catching a cold (which, while hard to believe, are things that every Dartmouth student has gone through). What's more important is how you react to that bad grade or that rejection letter. Bring with you the ability to confront failure, learn from it, and keep moving forward. All failure becomes a success the moment that you make something productive out of it. As Dory would say, "Just keep swimming."
There are a lot of options for what you can do at Dartmouth: what you study, where you study, when you study — and that's just the academic aspects of your time. With that in mind, if you have already decided what you want to do with your time at Dartmouth, great! However, we encourage you to leave a bit of wiggle room as plans change quite often in college. Whether all your decisions are deliberate or if you like to go with the flow, you have the power to make your time at Dartmouth whatever you choose for it to be.
Not every day at Dartmouth is perfect. There may be times (especially during reading period) that you may want to just curl up in your bed and watch a movie, have a bite of your mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies, or just sit and do nothing. It's completely natural to feel this way and very handy to have something or someone on hand to boost your spirits and keep you going. Whether this is a movie, a playlist, a book, a relationship with a person, or an activity — do it for your own benefit. Put something in your room or have someone on speed dial that never fails to make you feel better.
To many of you, Dartmouth is going to be a whole new world, with lots of people to meet and so many areas to explore. Be cognizant of the spaces that you occupy and who you're occupying them with, wherever you go. Know that your experiences are entirely your own and completely valid — as are the experiences of those who surround you — to the extent that everyone has something worthwhile to share. Being mindful of how others feel and function will make your interactions with others more genuine and fruitful in the end. Expand your mind and be open to other perspectives and diverse experiences unlike your own.
Be curious! Ask questions! Think about why or how something may be the way it is or work the way it does. Allow yourself to immerse in new ideas so you can form a richer understanding of the world around you. Don't fall into the trap of settling with "the comfortable". Have conversations where you deconstruct your norms and hear the perspectives of those in this community. Ask questions about things you want to know more about without fearing judgment, because your thirst for knowledge is only going to be quenched if you're actively allow it to be.
Often times at Dartmouth, it seems as though there are 101 things to do in a given week. You have classes to go to, meetings to attend, performances to watch, dinners to be eaten, and the list just goes on and on! It's so important to learn how to manage those precious hours in a day so that you accomplish what you want without feeling like you haven't slept in years. Plan out not only time to accomplish your goals, but also time to relax, be with friends, and really enjoy this amazing place.
Being comfortable in your own skin is integral to traversing college. Learning to go to bed content with who you are and waking up feeling great about your choices will make your time at Dartmouth feel meaningful and worthwhile. Not only will you be able to present yourself with more confidence, you will also actually be more confident. Be yourself and do not let anyone else tell you who you are or aren't. As the idiom goes, march to the beat of your own drum. You do you. Always.
Hello again incoming students,
Even though we've been hard at work planning all summer, Orientation still manages to sneak up– by the time you read this, the first of your classmates will be traversing the New Hampshire wilderness on their DOC First–Year Trip!
As we get closer and closer to Pre–Orientation and Orientation our "to do" lists, naturally, get longer and longer. In the midst of all this list–making I've made one for you all. So, here are my top five pieces of advice/potentially useful musings for Orientation as your arrival date nears:
1. Explore, Engage, Excel– I think the title of your first–year academic information booklet really speaks to a successful strategy to follow in college. Begin your time at Dartmouth by exploring all of the possibilities open to you as a student here, whether that means attending each session in the "Navigating the Liberal Arts" sequence on Wednesday, Sept. 10, making a list of departmental Open Houses to attend on Thursday, Sept. 11 and Friday, Sept. 12, or wandering through the Student Involvement Fair on Sunday, Sept. 14, to get an idea of all the amazing student organizations open to you. When you find that class, program or student organization that really interests you– engage with it and the people that are part of it. Go to meetings, blitz professors and do your research to find the best fit for you. All this preparation will help you excel in each and every thing you do in your time at the College.
2. Find a mentor– As I'm sure Orientation week will show you, there are innumerable chances for you to get involved and learn new things, which can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. But don't panic– we are ready and waiting to help you when you need it. You should absolutely reach out to your faculty advisor with any and all academic questions, and use your individual meeting times on Friday, Sept. 12 to their fullest. Contact the Undergraduate Deans Office– they're all excited to meet you and help out where they can. Take full advantage of the Orientation Team– they're an impressive group of students committed to helping you with anything you need (they even put together this form just for questions) and they are working hard to provide a diverse schedule of events designed to help you navigate your first year. Finally, I am here for you too. You will see me at many Orientation events, so be sure to say 'hi.' Additionally, you can always reach out to the Collis office (contact information here) to schedule a time to meet with me or someone on my staff.
3. Be Intentional– You're likely to hear this phrase a few times when you get here, and I challenge you to pay attention to the ways you hear it used. Being intentional can mean different things to different people (this is good, it means you've thought about it!), but the common denominator here is thinking and acting with purpose and conviction in everything that you do. Hang out with your floor and make new friends (at residence hall events and socials on Tuesday and Wednesday), but don't necessarily do everything they do. Think about what you want to explore and who you want to meet, and don't be afraid to try new things with friends or by yourself. O–Team is planning plenty of great social events during Pre–Orientation and Orientation, which are a great opportunity to show up and meet new people during a wide variety of activities. And don't worry– social events hosted by the full gamut of Dartmouth organizations continue during Fall Term as part of the First Six Weeks program (more on this during Orientation...)
4. Appreciate your Surroundings– Hanover and the Upper Valley are full of natural beauty, and opportunities to enjoy your surroundings will be present each term throughout the year: Fall Term will offer wonderful foliage and quintessential New England vistas; Winter will bring cooler temperatures, yes, but also beautiful snowfalls and great opportunities in the form of Winter Carnival activities; Spring brings with it a rebirth of nature (and spirit) accented by great live music during Green Key; and, once you get there, Summer will warm you with sunny days and high temperatures– perfect for a dip in the Connecticut River or lunch under the shade of the Collis Porch. Don't be afraid to hop on Advance Transit and see where the routes take you– the ride is free and can connect you to shopping and restaurants in the greater Hanover/Lebanon/Norwich, VT area.
5. Finally — and perhaps most importantly — don't let anyone else determine your Dartmouth Experience. I can't stress enough that Dartmouth means different things to different people– a nuance that can sometimes be lost in all of the emails, letters, programs and checklists you all receive in preparation for your arrival. There is no one Dartmouth experience. Orientation is a great example of this– six (admittedly intense) days packed full of events designed to expose you to just how many different people and programs make their home at Dartmouth. Groups from across campus are ready to provide you with the tools and support to intentionally (see, I told you you'd hear that word again) engage with the Dartmouth community and find your unique path. Again, it's totally normal to be overwhelmed or uncomfortable in your new home– we all know that you might find yourselves in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations as you join our Dartmouth community. It is in these moments we want you to know that it's okay to feel unsure: You are certainly not the first or only one to feel that way. We are all here to share in those moments, so that you might learn and grow as a part of the Dartmouth community. Again, I am here for you: Reach out. We are here to help you shape your time here at the College in your own unique and productive way.
These are just a few of the many pieces of advice I hope to offer you, and I hope it helps you think about your Orientation experience coming up.
Oh, one last thing: Don't forget to have fun! You are in for a life-changing experience.
Greetings good members of the Class of 2018!
On behalf of the over five hundred faculty members at Dartmouth, I want to extend my warmest welcome and tell you that we are very excited to join you in your scholarly journey that starts in September. My name is John Pfister and I have had the pleasure of teaching at Dartmouth College for over twenty-five years. This year, I am part of a team of colleagues who are coordinating the academic advising process; it is in that capacity that Dean Ramsey has asked me to write a few words about our academic life together at the College.
I could offer tips about studying for my statistics exams, or perhaps the tools I use in grading essays in my first-year seminar on critical thinking in Psychology. As we approach the first day of classes together, however, I cannot help but highlight an idea that transcends any calculation you could perform or any sentence you could write: both professors and students will return, time and time again, to the Academic Honor Principle. Every syllabus you will read and many first lectures you will hear will mention something about the mutual expectations that will guide your pursuit of knowledge. Instead of offering the mere advice of "Don't cheat!" I wanted to offer a faculty perspective on the consequences of treating these expectations lightly.
I still love reading the Honor Principle aloud with students. (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~uja/honor/) When you take a minute and do the same you will notice many things about students "accepting responsibility," or faculty providing "continuing guidance." You will also see a resolution of the ultimate trust between faculty and student with the discontinuation of proctoring during exams. My favorite thing, though, is the preamble to the four resolutions, which reminds us that both faculty and students embraced these ideals together. The Honor Principle is not just mine to uphold or yours to follow; it is ours to live by.
At multiple points throughout any term, many of you will feel the pressure of getting everything done on time and to perfection. It has been my experience that this is the time when it becomes all too easy to let your zeal and, sometimes, fatigue get the best of you and try to cut corners. All of us want to do our best work, so here are some ways to integrate the Academic Honor Principle into your daily – and scholarly – life.
1. TALK TO YOUR PROFESSOR: Really – when in doubt; when you just don't know whether or not to cite a reference or collaborate with another student; when you have just stayed up too late to think straight – wait until morning and write your professor. Yes, you might get a late penalty, but isn't your integrity worth more?
2. PLAN AHEAD: The best moment to budget your time is the first day of class. Prepare a plan of attack for the term and for every assignment. Take 10 minutes each week and create a study schedule. Find a friend to do this with you – support each other and keep each other company. Include a couple of early morning trips to Lou's for crullers or walks around Occom Pond as an incentive. Even better, studies indicate that regular sleep is the key to better academic performance: a good schedule allows for just that.
3. TRUST YOUR JUDGEMENT: If the voice in your head tells you that you might be in a gray zone, listen to it. Don't submit an uncited draft when you really meant to send a final version. If a group project seems a little too collaborative, say something. Think about the trip home after the term is over – wouldn't you want to leave with a clean conscience?
4. MAKE THE HONOR PRINCIPLE COME ALIVE: It is so tempting to avoid talking about something with such strong implications for one's integrity and academic career. The truth is, though, by making your thoughts public, you will hear different views, understand different perspectives, and give meaning to the words in a syllabus or lecture. Moreover, somewhere in those lunch discussions or queries during office hours, you or one of your friends might hear something that makes all the difference in the world to them. I'll even help start your conversation; you can write me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or we can grab coffee or a meal when you arrive on campus.
One of the most difficult things I ever had to do was tell a student that I thought they had violated the Academic Honor Principle. I dread the discussion, and always have trouble sorting through the complex mixture of anger, violation, sympathy, distrust and shame. Then again, this shouldn't be easy. Accusing someone of breaking the Honor Principle is a serious matter and calls into question everything we hold dear about sharing knowledge with one another. But in the end, I like to think that we are not only building a culture of scholarship and social awareness, but a culture of integrity. Wouldn't it be amazing if Dartmouth was known as the school where integrity mattered as much as the number of students we sent to medical school or the number of Ivy League championships we won? I look forward to working towards that goal with you during your academic and personal journey over the next four years.
During your first term at Dartmouth, remind yourself of who you are and what brought you here. What made you exceptional is what brought you to Dartmouth in the first place; trust it to be the thing that allows you to excel here.
With great respect and in tremendous anticipation of your arrival,
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Psychological & Brain Sciences and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Advising
This time — mid to late August — is an interesting time for you all. Many colleges and universities on the semester system begin their fall terms earlier than Dartmouth. Some of your friends (or family) may have already left for college, while others may be leaving this week or next. I don't mean for you to panic when you think about this, or to feel sad when you think about the summer coming to an end. Rather, I hope you see this as an opportunity, much like how I encouraged you to view sorting through all the information we've sent you in the weeks leading up to Orientation. See this not only as the end of an era, but also as the beginning of a new chapter.
I know this can be a weird time and thinking about how to wrap up the final summer before your college career may seem like an impossible task. I challenge you to use this time for all the things you said you'd do and haven't done, both for yourself and for those around you. Plan a meal with your family, and one with your friends. Invite everyone you've been promising to make time for and make an evening experience out of it. Grab your siblings, your cousins, your closest friends or your favorite aunts and have a Netflix marathon, or visit a local spot that is important to you. Look back at that summer bucket list you made all those months ago and start checking things off. Grab your parents and Prancercise (I joke, I joke).
I do ask, though, that you balance your bucket list with your college checklist. Go through the Orientation website and double check your deadlines. Read through the Placement Exam pages — it's important that you carefully consider the available exams and plan to take any that you feel would be helpful in determining your courses. Re-reading Explore, Engage, Excel in conjunction with placement information will be a great step in preparing for course election during Orientation.
Pay close attention to the materials Professor Erich Osterberg has put together for your Shared Academic Experience, and be sure to read the excerpts of For Common Things mailed to your home address. Professor Osterberg will be communicating with you via the online Canvas system, and we are excited for you to fully engage with him and with your classmates on this first assignment.
For those heading to Dartmouth early — whether it's for Pre-Orientation, the E.E. Just scholar program, a DOC First-Year Trip, or something else — we'll be ready for you! And to our international students: we know there are challenges to joining the American higher education system, but Steve Silver, director of International Student Programs, and his team are putting together a great International Pre-Orientation program to ease your transition.
Regardless of when you're joining us: enjoy your final weeks at home, say goodbye (for now) to your loved ones, and get ready for the start of your Dartmouth adventure.
Hello again, incoming class-
I'm writing to you after recently returning from a meeting with some of our peer institutions, at which I was reminded how quickly your first year here is approaching. Discussing students and life on campus with my peers always reminds me how remarkable and unique Dartmouth is!
As we continue to prepare for your arrival, I am struck by the amount of information you are getting: housing assignments, 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 2018 Facebook group.
Part of going to college is 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, departments, 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 classes that interest you, collaborating with faculty and other students, exploring major (and maybe minor) areas of study, and everything that comes with academic discovery will be formative over the next four years. 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, as a vocalist in an a cappella group like the Cords or the Rockapellas, or as a member of a special interest group like the Ecovores or Coffee Club.
It's not lost on me that, to get into Dartmouth, you were most likely involved in 15 different organizations- you are all remarkable people, and capable of juggling high school classwork and extra-curriculars 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'll 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 opportunities to learn and find your way as part of our great College on the Hill, and I'm willing to bet you'll find 50 different organizations, classes and other things you'd love to be involved in — 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 what you want to dedicate yourself to in the time you have here.
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.
Hello incoming students!
Let me first introduce 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 housed in the Collis Center for Student Involvement.
Dartmouth is hard at work preparing for your arrival this fall, and we are so excited about the things we have lined up for you. Colleagues and I across campus are planning opportunities for you to experience the breadth of Dartmouth's offerings, always with the goal of ensuring your successful transition into the Dartmouth community.
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 classes will be your highest priority during Orientation. However, we are also thinking a lot about what we want to share with you 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. This 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 the College.
With that commitment to your successful transition in mind, 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. Mostly, I want to put a face to the communication you receive and help guide you 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 next week. In the meantime please reach out to me with anything that might be on your mind. My personal email address is Eric.L.Ramsey@Dartmouth.edu. I can't wait to hear from you, and I will see you soon.
Last Updated: 9/13/14