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Now that my time at Dartmouth is nearing its conclusion, I’ve been reflecting on the highs and lows of my Dartmouth experience. From failed friendships to amazing internships to stressful all-nighters - and everything in between, I wanted to take some time to break down what I’ve learned in my two years at the Big Green. 

So first, a little bit about me. At Dartmouth, I was a graduate student in the Master of Art in Liberal Studies Program, and I was in the Creative Writing concentration. While taking classes and subsequently working on my portfolio, I developed an interest in studying the intersections of race relations, gender, and literature. Through Dartmouth, I was able to grow as an academic and I will be entering a new graduate program in September. 

I’ve had so many highs and lows while studying at Dartmouth: academically, emotionally, and even socially. Looking back, there are four key things that I took away from all of my experiences. 

 

Don’t let Imposter Syndrome Stunt your Progress

No matter where you are on your academic journey, know that you belong where you've been placed. You being in your current academic sphere is not a mistake, and you wouldn’t be where you are if you didn't deserve it. 

As a black woman with immigrant parents, I often struggled with feelings of inadequacy and with wondering if I deserved to be at an institution such as Dartmouth. Thoughts like those will only impede your growth and negatively affect your mental health in the long run.

Comparison is the thief of happiness! Go at your own pace and recognize that your differences and uniqueness are what got you as far as you are today.  

 

Lean on the People that Actually Care About you

This is a tough one, but I believe that it deserves to be said. There are some people that will root for you openly and lovingly, and there are some that will pretend to while secretly hoping for you to fall. Follow your gut and don’t give all of your energy to everyone that you think could be a friend to you. I ended up becoming really drained and sad by trusting the wrong people. 

It’s better to have one or two close friendships that are nurturing and uplifting than to have five or six friends that talk down to you or gossip behind your back. One thing that I really had to learn was that not everyone is going to like me or want to be my friend, and that’s okay. What matters most is that you cut off people and relationships that dissuade your growth and cause you to doubt yourself! 

 

Keep your Focus on your Accomplishments and your End Goal

Take the time to celebrate your wins and don't dwell on your perceived failures. If you got a high mark on that research paper, reward yourself with an extra hour of Netflix that night. If you found a professor to write that letter of recommendation for you, celebrate with some ice cream. Safe and healthy rewards are great motivators. 

I got into the habit of always expecting perfection from myself. So when I didn’t reach that expectation, I was crushed. And when I did, I moved passed it like it was nothing. I was constantly going and making no time to breathe and appreciate the smaller moments during my Dartmouth experience. Try not to be too hard on yourself, and appreciate the journey that your on instead of only looking at the destination. 

 

Manage your Stress - no, for Real!

Prioritize self-care… in whatever ways that means for you. From bubble baths to hiking to going to therapy, I’m of the opinion that self-care is whatever relieves your personal stress and allows you to internally care for you. 

Relaxing is essential for your overall well-being, and many students at Dartmouth seem to forget how important taking care of yourself really is. Mindfulness and meditation are great strategies that a lot of college students find to be very beneficial. I, personally, find working out to be great for my mental health and my academic productivity as a whole. Do what works for you and prioritize it like you prioritize your school work and friendships. 

 

In the End, It's All About Growth

At the end of the day, I grew more over the last two years then I did in the previous ten. I learned a lot of hard lessons, pushed myself farther than I ever could have thought possible, and grew a new appreciation for who I am as a person. I'm ready to tackle academia and my personal relationships in ways that I never would have considered if I did not attend this institution. To any new students (graduate or undergrad) that are nervous about what Dartmouth may hold for you, my advice for you would be to take each lesson as an adventure and an avenue to grow into yourself. Enjoy the journey!

 

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The Academic Skills Center & The Tutor Clearinghouse are gearing up for a new remote term. With more time to plan to accommodate the many needs of our undergraduate students, we have revised our priorities for summer 2020. 

We thought that it would be helpful to clearly state what our initiatives are for 20X so that we can best help you. During this time, remember that you are not alone and that you have a whole team behind you rooting for your success. 

Beginning Summer 2020, the Tutor Clearinghouse is prioritizing Tutoring Groups to continue to offer its services for free while meeting student tutoring demands. 

Tutoring Groups consists of up to five students, in addition to a Group Tutor, and meets weekly for 1.5-hour tutorial sessions. Group tutoring is available for introductory STEM and social science classes, introductory language courses (Numbers 1 through 3), as well as some other courses that have had historically high demand.

Students can register for a Tutoring Group throughout the term. Learn more about becoming a Group Tutor and how to register for Group Tutoring.

Individual Tutoring is very limited and is intended for students who demonstrate a specific need for individual tutorial support. Individual Tutors are allowed to tutor their tutee(s) for one hour per week. Here is the application to request an Individual Tutor

Students who are approved for an Individual Tutor are also strongly encouraged to also join a Tutoring Group.

The Conversation Partners and Resident Experts programs have been discontinued!

ALL tutoring services are FREE for enrolled students for the allowed amount of time per week. 

In addition, we will continue to conduct our personal academic coaching sessions through Zoom led by Carl Thum, PH.D. and Karen Afre.  Visit our website for remote learning tips and information about our remote summer term services. We will also be conducting our Tutor Clearinghouse office hours during new times. See here for our updated office hours times. 

Check out more posts on the Academic Skills Center’s blog for tips on how to survive this remote summer term. 

Please do not hesitate to contact the Academic Skills Center & the Tutor Clearinghouse if you have any questions regarding 20X, remote academic programming, and/or our tutoring services!

 

Reflect on the Year As a Whole

Look holistically at your accomplishments and things that you want to improve on. This has been a crazy year with a lot of emotions and stressors. Be gentle with yourself, and try not to judge yourself too harshly. 

Michelle Shory, Ed.S. and Irina V. McGrath, Ph.D. are both district instructional coaches and Google Certified Trainers in public school districts. They both state that, “reflection is also a great way to consolidate learning, process our feelings, and share about ourselves [...] Creating a year-end reflection is often a good culminating project, but it seems to be essential this year. Allowing students to reflect, share, and document their feelings about this time in an open-ended way can serve as a reflection of learning, as well as documentation of a once-in-a-lifetime event (Ferlazzo).

 

Plan for Your Triggers 

As a college student, you probably know what your usual end-of-the-year triggers are (rise in temperatures, dehydration, allergies, etc.). Those are things that you hopefully have figured out a way to combat as the final weeks of the spring term wind down. Of course now, with Covid-19, there will most likely be some additional triggers that you will need to combat in order to stay positive and focused.

Negative thoughts about the future and a lack of a usual study space could be an example. Take some time to plan ahead so that you can alleviate some of that anxiety. Some ways to combat these issues could be journaling, drinking enough water, investing in an extra fan, stocking up on your allergy medication ahead of time, etc.

 

Incorporate Self-Care and Positive Thinking

We’ve talked about these two aspects quite a lot in this blog. Now more than ever is the time to put those practices that we’ve discussed into use. “Self-care activities like deep breathing, quick exercises/stretches, and mini-breaks really do have physical and psychological calming effects” (Waters, MSW).

Even if they seem insignificant as you're reading about them, make a commitment to incorporate some of them into your day, especially as you go through long periods of studying or sitting at a desk.

In addition, it’s important to do our best to avoid negative thoughts and ideation as much as possible. Of course, we are all human and we’re bound to get sad and down on ourselves and our situations during this time.

But it’s a good idea to practice mindfulness and avoid indulging in “catastrophizing (magnifying the negative aspects of a situation while discounting the positive ones), permanence thinking (assuming that setbacks are going to last forever and problems never improve), and/or false helplessness (assuming–without evidence–that you are powerless over a situation)” (Watson). Doing so will leave you feeling healthier, happier, and more motivated overall.  

 

Listen To Your Brain and Take Breaks

Give yourself a break! Be kind to yourself and recognize that most people don’t function optimally with the incorporation of eight-hour studying days or all-nighters. Space out your work, and take plenty of water and stretching breaks.

Break down large tasks into smaller chunks so that they feel more manageable. That way, you can feel a sense of accomplishment every time that you complete a position of the task, and you can avoid that dreaded “burn out”. You can read more about that here. 

 

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Whether you are well into or just beginning your Dartmouth undergraduate experience, it is never too early to look forward to the future. Many of you will be going straight into the workforce once you graduate. Others will take a year or two off to figure out exactly what you want to do with your life. And there are those of you that will be considering graduate programs in order to be an even bigger force in your chosen field.

While none of these paths are better or worse than the others, I wanted to highlight some of the graduate program options available to you specifically at Dartmouth. The four graduate schools at Dartmouth (Geisel School of Medicine, Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business) all offer an abundance of opportunities for advanced academic study and placement. 

The newest of all of the graduate schools, Guarini, became an official graduate school of the college in 2017. The Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies oversees mostly STEM Masters and Ph.D. programs. However, there are also three humanities master’s programs that reside under Guarini.

Digital Music, Comparative Literature, and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies are all strong humanities programs with excellent facilities and resources connected to them. Click here to see a list of all of the programs in Guarini. 

Being that I am enrolled in the program, I wanted to put a special focus on the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program (MALS). This program is not as widely known on the Dartmouth campus as it could be. It can be a great opportunity for any of you to explore creative and critical theory through an interdisciplinary lens once you graduate.

The MALS program has four tracks that one can choose from: Creative Writing, Cultural Studies, Globalization, and the General Track which is open-ended and allows for a combination of disciplines. See a more detailed description of the MALS concentrations here.

 The MALS program requires all of its students to complete at least one independent study project and one long term thesis paper/presentation. These two opportunities allow students to hone into their individualized research for a great chunk of their time in the program.

As MALS runs on a flexible schedule catered to the needs of its students, you would have the possibility to finish the program anywhere from 1.5 to 6 years. However, most full-time students usually finish in about 2-3 years.

With the MALS program, you are able to build a repertoire of writing and research that will prepare you for the workforce, doctoral programs, and/or professional schools. MALS at Dartmouth is a full-degree-awarding, masters-level program at Dartmouth College - not a continuing education program.  Click on this link to see more information on why MALS may be the program for you. 

While in MALS, I was able to complete my Creative Writing concentration while also further strengthening my research skills and my overall love for academia. If you have any individual questions about the MALS Program or the MALS application process, feel free to reach out to MALS.Admissions@Dartmouth.edu or to me at Ashley.E.Wells.GR@Dartmouth.edu.

With the end of the spring term approaching, many Dartmouth students are dealing with the new & ominous feat of having to take their first-ever online final examination(s). Taking a test online can differ greatly from taking one in a traditional classroom setting.

A lot of students don't know what to expect, which translates to them not knowing how to properly prepare for these online exams. Below are a few helpful tips and tricks that students can use to maximize their chance of success while jumping over this final hurdle of the remote term. 

 

Tip #1: Prepare Your Machine

An easy thing to overlook, be sure that your computer is as ready as possible for finals week. Download any necessary software and ensure that it is running quickly and efficiently before finals week. Make sure your wifi connection is solid and that you have a reliable computer charger. You need to be able to depend on your machine to get through your exam; you want to spend your brainpower on your work, not on a computer malfunction. 

Tip #2: Prepare for the Format

Don’t underestimate your online exams just because they are technically “open-book”. Think about how the exam will function in real-time and prepare for it. Will your exam be timed? If the test isn't at a specific time, then create a deadline for yourself by which you'll need to have it completed.  

Is it short answer, multiple-choice, essay-based, or even a combination of the three? Usually, open-book examinations encompass a large amount of material, so constantly looking back into your notes could be counterproductive. In addition, make sure to “set up an environment where you won't be interrupted. You'll want to take the test somewhere quiet where you can concentrate. Don't forget to turn your phone on silent as well to avoid any distractions” (ECPI Blog).

 

Tip #3: Prepare Your Mind and Body

This one may sound self-explanatory, but this remote term may have caused a lot of disruptions to our lives schedule-wise. Now is the time to establish some order again before finals week draws nearer. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep before all exams.

Also, try to wake up at least an hour and a half before each exam. This will allow you to eat a meal and to have a short established routine to wake you up and get your mind right. That could be taking a hot shower, doing some light stretches and/or breathing exercises, doing some skincare, etc. There’s nothing worse than waking up five minutes before you have to take an exam and then expecting yourself to do your best. Give yourself the best chance possible to succeed! 

 

Tip #4: Save Your Answers & Submit Your Exam On-time

Save your answers multiple times throughout the exam. You may even want to type them up in a word document or in a notes app before copying and pasting them to the exam. Always plan for the worst; if the webpage crashes, you don't want to lose all of your hard work and risk getting a poor grade.

Most online exams aren’t done until you click the “Submit” button at the end. If you finish ahead of time, do a once-over, and ensure that everything is completed to your satisfaction. Make sure that your submission is confirmed once you submit the exam and before you exit your browser.  If you have any problems submitting the test, let your instructor know immediately and send your intended answers in an attached document so that they know that you finished on time.

 

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