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Of Note: Orientation Blog

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

Eric Ramsey, Director of New Student Orientation

Welcome to Of Note. Here you'll find notes, advice and recommendations from Eric Ramsey, Director of New Student Orientation. 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 Seven | September 11, 2017


Dear Class of 2021,

As you finish your first day of classes, please consider these "potentially useful musings." These are just a few of the many pieces of advice I am sure that you'll receive; may they help you reflect on your Orientation experience and prepare for your Dartmouth career.

1.    Explore, Engage, Excel: I think the title of your first-year academic information guide 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. 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 your endeavors at the College.  

2.    Find a mentor: 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. Contact the Undergraduate Deans Office: they're all excited to meet you and help out where they can. Take full advantage of the student leaders around campus such as Undergraduate Assistants and Deans Office Student Consultants. They're an impressive group of students committed to helping you with anything you need. Finally, I am here for you, too. You can always reach out to the Office of Student Life to schedule a time to meet with me or someone on my staff.  

3.    Be Intentional: Being intentional can mean different things to different people, 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, but don't necessarily do everything they do. Think about what you want to explore and who you want to meet: don't be afraid to try new things with friends or by yourself.  

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 surrounding 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; there is no one Dartmouth experience. Groups from across campus are ready to provide you with the tools and support to intentionally engage with all that Dartmouth offers and find your unique path. Again, it's totally normal to be overwhelmed in your new surroundings. We all know that you might find yourself in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations as you connect with the 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 from them.   Though Orientation is over, do not hesitate to reach out during your time at Dartmouth. I am here for you – particularly during these first few weeks as you adjust to life at the College.

Take care and be well -



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Post Six | September 8, 2017


Hello again new students,  

First of all – please note these schedule updates:

  • Sunday 9/10, 10am – 2pm: Shopping trips to West Lebanon, NH
  • Sunday, 9/10, 6:30pm (right before Twilight Ceremony): Class of 2021 Class Photo

And secondly: I hope you have enjoyed your Orientation week so far! It has been an absolute pleasure welcoming you to Dartmouth and seeing so many of you at 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 events like Navigating Your Transition, The Principles That Define Our Community, and Professor Shipley's Shared Academic Experience last night.  

You have hit another milestone today by completing 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, Deans Office Student Consultants, academic open houses, and many others) in making informed and intentional course selections.

This weekend 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 Connecting to Your Community in Two Acts Saturday; 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.  

I look forward to seeing you again at the Twilight Ceremony on Sunday evening, which follows your Class Photo. This culminating event for Orientation comes on the eve of the College's 248th year; it will be wonderful to see you come together as a class, as the newest members of the Dartmouth community. We will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. on the Collis porch. 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.  



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Post Five | August 29, 2017


From the Orientation Team:

Welcome Class of 2021, transfer students, and exchange students to Dartmouth! We are the Orientation Team, and we are working hard to support all of you throughout Pre-Orientation, Orientation and your Dartmouth careers. Eric asked us if there's anything we wanted to say to you, and we wanted to share the following thoughts.

We hope that you are excited about your arrival to Hanover – know that there is SO MUCH excitement here for your arrival. From the O-Team in our matching shirts making s'mores with you, to the TRIPS Croo Members and Leaders guiding you through the forest, to the Undergraduate Advisors smiling and introducing themselves to you, to the '18s, '19s and '20s who show you the ropes and willingly become friends, peers, and mentors, the enthusiasm and buzz that fills the campus seems impossible to contain. There is a magic in the air, a magic some of you may be feeling as you pack your bags in anticipation of your arrival. 

However, as many magicians will tell you, magic operates by distracting its captivated viewers from the truth that is often hidden in plain sight. Truth is, college is a new chapter of your life. For many, it necessitates movement into the unfamiliar. As you zip up your final suitcase, you may look around and realize that you weren't able to pack the last 17 or 18 years of your life in that small suitcase.

The real magic of your transition to Dartmouth arises from the combination of the nervousness that may come with leaving behind everything you've known, and the excitement and energy you feel as you come to college. Navigating "who you are" is tied inextricably to your impact here; each and every one of you will make and transform Dartmouth into the place it is. This is where we, your friendly O-Team, come in! We've put together a list of things that we think are important to discovering, understanding, and growing who you are. In no particular order, here is the list:

Something that reminds you of home
What is home? The house, with your family, the beaches where you would spend your summers with friends, the gym across the street, the teddy bear you packed? Wherever and whatever you call home, bring some of that with you for the days when you miss things you left behind. Remembering where you come from is important to establishing your roots at a new place.

Willingness to try new things
College is about trying new things and in the process, learning about yourself; simply by coming to college in Hanover, New Hampshire, many of you have demonstrated a willingness to try new things. Try to continue exploring 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. 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.

A resilient spirit
As you jump into all these new things, failure in some regard is likely to occur. No one likes failing at what they set out to do; however, it's an inevitable part of life, just like homework or catching a cold. What's more important is how you react to the failure; being able to confront it, learn from it, and keep moving forward. This creates positive ripples in your life, turning what was once failure into a series of successes. As Dory would say, "Just keep swimming."

A positive attitude
So how do you move forward from failure you may ask? Well, it starts with a positive attitude! College is hard; there will likely be times when you 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 in the long run even if things do not get immediately better. Rather than just keeping you afloat, positivity will keep you moving forward, seeking the necessary resources to make things work.

Time for you
It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Dartmouth term – there's so much going on and so little time and you just have to do everything! In all the noise, don't forget to give yourself time to do the things that make you happy, relaxed, and de-stressed. Whether that is watching Game of Thrones or playing a card game with some friends, these moments help re-center yourself. 

Awareness of yourself and your surroundings
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 yourself and of how others feel and function will make your interactions with others more genuine and fruitful in the end.

Be curious! Ask questions! Think about why or how something may be the way it is or work the way it does. Immerse yourself 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 without fearing judgment, because gaining knowledge is what college is all about.

We can't wait to greet you when you arrive – until then, you can start following our adventures on Instagram: dartmouth_oteam.

- O-Team 


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Post Four | August 24, 2017  

Hello everyone. 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 and/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. It's 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 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 place that is important to you. Look back at that summer bucket list you made all those months ago and start checking things off.  

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 Local 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. And use the newsletters sent to you all summer by the Undergraduate Deans Office to start learning about departments, programs, and resources.  

Be sure to read the book for the Shared Academic Experience, A Man of the People, selected by Professor Jesse Weaver Shipley. We are looking forward to joining you — and Professor Shipley — at your first Dartmouth lecture during Orientation.  

For those heading to Dartmouth early or who have already arrived — whether it's for Pre-Orientation, 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 Danielle Hussey, Advisor to International Students, and her team are putting together a great International Pre-Orientation program to ease your transition.  

Regardless of when you're joining us: enjoy your final days at home, say goodbye (for now) to your loved ones, and get ready for the start of your Dartmouth adventure.  



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Post Three | August 10, 2017

Hi, it’s Eric. Believe it or not, I am on a tiny vacation … a short break from preparing for your arrival. Ultimately that’s a great thing; we all need to rest and recharge, and I hope you are finding ways to refuel this summer, so you are ready to start your Dartmouth journey with a full tank.

I know you recently received your housing assignment, which can be both exciting and scary at the same time. Be sure to spend some time with the helpful materials you’ve received from the Undergraduate Housing Office and available on their website. Lots of people are getting ready to welcome you!

Speaking of communication: the Undergraduate Deans Office continues to send important and useful information to help you prepare for course election. We hope you are EXPLORING the newsletters introducing academic departments and programs, and ENGAGING with the video advising chats, if you can. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed; there will be plenty of opportunities to contextualize this information and ask questions during New Student Orientation.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, take time to reflect on your upcoming transition to Dartmouth and your goals for your first year. The Office of Student Life is committed to your success and we look forward to supporting you on your journey! You’ll be hearing from me soon …


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Post Two | July 13, 2017

Welcome to July!

Dartmouth is buzzing with preparations for your arrival this fall; we are very excited about what we have in store for you. The folks in the Office of Student Life — along with colleagues across campus — are organizing opportunities for you to experience the breadth of Dartmouth's offerings, always with the goal of ensuring your successful transition into the Dartmouth College community.

Speaking of which: your Shared Academic Experience, with Professor of African and African American Studies Jesse Weaver Shipley, is about to begin. We have mailed A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe to your home addresses. Please see the Shared Academic Experience website, and jump right in!

Our journey together will begin in earnest when you arrive. 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 connected 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 continue to write to you in the weeks leading up to Orientation. Be sure to bookmark this page; 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, the Office of Student Life and I want to put a face to the communication you receive and help guide 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 I'm looking forward to hearing from you, and I will see you soon.


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Post One | May 18, 2017

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.

Your official Dartmouth “new student” communication has begun! I hope you have claimed your account and started working on the Pre-Arrival Instructions and Checklist via BannerStudent.

Here in Student Life, we are about to go silent for a few weeks. We’ll be as busy as you: while you are finishing your academic year, we are graduating Dartmouth’s great Class of 2017 – and then we will all catch our breath!

We’ll talk to you again in July. Until then, we wish you the best possible conclusion to your secondary school careers and some well-deserved rest and celebration.


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Last Updated: 9/12/17