As my second term of college draws to a conclusion, the phrase “after 18” rapidly becomes more meaningful. The transition to adult life has been enlightening thus far, and I enjoy the process of having to become more responsible as my college career progresses. It has become apparent that in college, everything has been set up for students to figure out how to succeed in classes, and moreover, in life. At Dartmouth, that includes the academic skills center, a resource to help students find their niches on campus — clubs, open office hours with professors, and a plethora of internship and job opportunities.
I admit to being hesitant to use a lot of these resources my fall term, but I have overcome part of my shyness by making use of many resources this term. Although I have focused on making academics my primary concern in my time at Dartmouth, I still have time left to enjoy some of the many activities taking place on campus. As a result, the number of stories I will have one day to tell my grandchildren has increased at least twofold since the start of the term.
I admit I am stubborn, and I know this trait causes me to try to solve problems on my own rather than getting help. Fortunately, I am taking computer science this term, and it is unlike any class I have previously taken. It is extremely methodical — even formulaic. As a result, after having spent almost 15 hours editing my code to find a bug in a recent assignment, I finally opened up and applied to get a tutor. A bug is something in code that is preventing a program from running correctly, and it can be extremely hard to find if one measly mistake is made early on in the coding process. Knowing that debugging can take a long time, I have been forced to manage my time optimally, and take full advantage of professors, teaching assistants, and my tutor whenever possible. Same with my other classes. Being forced to use resources and manage time efficiently is a skill that I hope I will carry with me for the rest of my professional life.
Since the beginning of the term, I’ve been involved in the Dartmouth Minorities in Business Association, which meets biweekly. We discuss issues pertaining to consulting and investment banking. After learning about these two industries, I’ve decided I will probably go into one of them. I have also applied for a summer job and a volunteer opportunity.
This summer I hope to be working as an associate director of a summer camp for students ages 9 to 16 in Shanghai, China. I would be spending over a month in China, training for the camp, and then facilitating its activities with co-workers. Being immersed in a foreign culture is something I have looked forward to for a long time, and if this opportunity does not fall through, I will potentially be studying abroad in Santander, Spain, in one of my coming years at Dartmouth. I also can volunteer to teach the coding language Python to middle school students who aspire to learn computer science. Learning how to code can be extremely entertaining and rewarding, and I think more students deserve the opportunity to learn to code before they leave high school.
I think that a lot of students get lost in the party scene and react poorly to the freedom that they are given when they get to college. However, my parents have always given me a lot of freedom, and I think that has been crucial to my productivity as a student.
It’s a Saturday night on Winter Carnival weekend, your friends are going out to Dartmouth’s infamous frat row. There is a decision to be made: Do you go with them? Or do you polish your essay that is due Monday? These are the types of questions students face on a daily basis, and furthermore, they are questions that will affect the rest of our lives. I won’t sit here and lie about never having made a poor decision in my life; however, I will say that in a lot of these situations, I remember one of my relatives at home telling me in the sincerest of tones, “We are all proud of you, Emerson, and try to remember that if you put the work in now, you’ll have time to have fun for the rest of your life.” I try to limit my time spent fooling around, because not only is it best for me, but also I find satisfaction in being able to make relatives like this happy to see me do well.
One of the highlights of my term was Winter Carnival. This carnival has been a famous Dartmouth tradition since 1910. The weekend consists of ski races, sled races, a polar plunge into the frozen Occum Pond, and later a community-wide festival on the pond, and ice sculpting competitions. Although I chickened out on jumping into the pond in the 10° weather, I participated in the human dogsled races, and I watched the Dartmouth Ski Team fly down the slopes at what looked like about 40 miles per hour. Our ski team has drawn a lot of attention this term as they are ranked No. 5 in the country, it would have been hard not to watch them finesse through the poles on the fortunately snowy mountain.
Although sometimes the transition to college and adulthood seems hard, I try to remember that college is something that you only get one shot at. As much as I want to succeed for my own benefit, there are a lot of other people to whom my success is important. Finding this type of motivation on a daily basis is something that I think all people can benefit from, not just college students. We all have to remember that the harder we make things for ourselves in the present, the more we will be able to enjoy the future.
I consider my experiences at Dartmouth to be building blocks to my future — a future I await with both apprehension and eagerness.