Karen Doster is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a Bachelor’s degree in Government, Public Policy and Native American Studies.
Karen’s Dartmouth experience is full of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for the school, for the classes, the professors, her peers and the extracurricular opportunities afforded to her.
Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:
Episode Title: Karen Doster on Dartmouth: Challenging Courses, Sophomore Summer and College as Imagined.
Episode summary introduction: Karen wanted to be in a small liberal arts college and Dartmouth certainly fit that bill. In addition to being the “perfect size”, Dartmouth turned out to be everything Karen imagined college to be.
Karen Doster is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a Bachelor’s degree in Government, Public Policy and Native American Studies.
In particular, we discuss the following with her:
Topics discussed in this episode:
Our Guest: Karen Doster is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a Bachelor’s degree in Government, Public Policy and Native American Studies. Karen later received her MBA from Northwestern University.
Memorable Quote: Karen says that schools are looking for students “who have a genuine love of learning”.
Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.
Transcript of the episode’s audio.
I remember going on college tours and hearing people talk about like, Oh, yeah, you know, we like go to dinner with our professors and I've been over to their houses and things like that.
I remember wondering like, does that actually happen that like the thought of going to a high school teacher’s house for dinner, felt like, really weird to me. But then lo and behold, I got to Dartmouth and I was like, Oh, no, this actually does happen.
Um, so I think again, it all goes back to like, it is a small enough school and the focus is on the undergrads that I would say the vast, vast, vast majority of professors and especially all the ones I had, like they were there because they love teaching, and they love teaching undergrads.
Hi! Welcome to this episode of College Matters. Alma Matters.
Karen Doster is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a Bachelor’s degree in Government, Public Policy and Native American Studies.
Karen wanted to be in a small liberal arts college and Dartmouth certainly fit that bill.
In addition to being the “perfect size”, Dartmouth turned out to be everything Karen imagined college to be.
Karen is on our podcast today, to share her years at Dartmouth.
Now, before we jump into the podcast, here are Five Highlights (we call them “High-Fives”) from the podcast:
[College as Imagined]
From like, the academics to everything happening outside the classroom, extracurricular activities and social life, like it really just had everything. You know, it was really like everything I imagined college would be.
And but I liked Dartmouth because it felt like it was that perfect size of like, not, you know, is a little bit smaller than the typical liberal arts college, which felt kind of like the same size as my high school because I went to a big public high school. But it, you know, wasn't so big as like a big university. I mean, there, there are a handful of graduate programs, namely the business school, the med school, but undergrads really, are the are the ones in charge, right.
[To Dartmouth from High School]
I will say it and I think this goes back to, again, the size of Dartmouth, they do a really great job of, you know, it's big enough that there's all these different opportunities, lots of different things to get involved in. But it's not so big that you're going to be lost in the shuffle. So you need like a bit more support. You know, that's there for you like people, your professors, classes are small enough people notice if you're not coming to class. Uh huh. You know, professors notice if like, you look a little tired, or, like go above and beyond to help you.
Then the summer after your sophomore year, you stay actually on campus or call it Sophomore Summer, you take classes, and it's just you and the, you know, the rest of the sophomore class. So it's about 1000 people on campus, you get really close with the people in your class, it's an opportunity for, you know, for example, like some of the more junior on the newspaper to be the summer editor of the newspaper, the like summer president of the Student Assembly.
[Tips for Aspiring Students]
It's pretty evident when people are doing something, just to, just because they think it'll help them in the process. Also, sort of like, that's pretty, I think, nearsighted in the sense that like, yes, you know, say like, going to colleges is important and going to a good college, I think is, you know, probably going to help you. That being said, like, you also have to live your life and if you're doing something just because it's going to get you into college with the exception of like the SAT or something like that. Right. You know, I think that's pretty unfortunate.
Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast. So without further delay, let's go straight to our conversation with Karen.
Hi, Karen. How are you?
Good. How's it going?
Good. Good. So let me start by welcoming you to our podcast. College matters. Alma matters. Thank you for making the time.
Yeah, thank you. I'm excited to talk about Dartmouth. I felt like I didn't have to prepare that much.
No, that's fantastic. That's fantastic.
Always happy to reminisce.
Well, you’ve got the right platform then.
So just to, by way of introduction, we are providing this service to basically aspiring students all over the world, especially international students who want to, or who are looking at coming to the US for their college study.
So stories like these are extremely beneficial, and bring a certain level of, you know, personal experiences, which, you know, I think students can sort of relate to.
So, thank you again for doing this.
Yeah. Of course. Happy to.
So, um, maybe the best way to do this is, maybe we can start at the top, maybe, maybe some overall impressions of Dartmouth, looking back now. And then we can make our way into, you know, various parts of that experience.
Yeah, sure. So, I will say, if it's not obvious already, I absolutely loved my time at Dartmouth, I, like really can't imagine having gone anywhere else. Most of my closest friends, so I graduated in 2011, I've lived in a couple of different cities after graduating, and even to this day, you know, made my best friends at Dartmouth, most of my closest friends are either people I got to know, while I was a student, or even just other Dartmouth people I've met, you know, in the first couple of years post grad just ends up in the same city and had that connection.
So it really is something that, you know, really sticks with you for life. You know, we can dive into really anything you want to talk about, but I would say from, like, the academics to everything happening outside the classroom, extracurricular activities, and social life, like, it really just had everything.
You know, it was really like everything I imagined in college would be, which sounds corny. But, yeah, I absolutely loved it.
So maybe, before we get into Dartmouth, maybe we can start a little bit with why you chose Dartmouth. And, you know, what did you, what was your decision making? And how did you end up there? or Why did you end up there?
Yeah, sure. So I was originally from New Jersey, and most of the schools I was looking at, was sort of like, small, snowy, New England's colleges. A lot of like, the NESCAC [New England Small College Athletic Conference] schools, you know, my older sister went to Hamilton. And but I like to start with because it felt like it was that perfect size of like, not, you know, is a little bit smaller than the typical liberal arts college, which felt kind of like the same size as my high school because I went to a big public high school. But it you know, wasn't so big as like a big university.
I mean, there, there are a handful of graduate programs, namely, like the business school, the med school, but undergrads really, are the are the ones in charge. Right? Right. And they get, you know, 90% of the the focus and attention.
So it's about 4000 students, and it felt like it was kind of that, that perfect balance. I absolutely loved the location. I think that, you know, when you're in a rural setting like that, it you know, I think half the reason I have this close friendships to this day is just on the weekends, like, everyone's hanging out on campus, you know, people are spending their, you know, social time, if you will, on campus, just because there's, there's nowhere else to go, right. You don't need to have a ton of money to go off campus and do different things because there's like, really not much there.
And then, you know, just the, seems like a school with really strong traditions and a strong community and just something that I wanted to be part of. And then I think Finally, one thing that's super unique about Dartmouth and really attracted me to it is our calendar system, the D plan. And so how that works is instead of like traditional semesters, on a quarter system, and you take three classes, give or take a quarter, and then the summer after your sophomore year, you stay actually on campus or call it sophomore summer. Have you take classes and it's just you and the, you know, the rest of the sophomore class. So it's about 1000 people on campus, you get really close with the people in your class. It's an opportunity for, you know, for example, like some of the more junior on the newspaper to be the summer editor of the newspaper, The like summer president of the Student Assembly, but because you do that your, your sophomore summer, then you sort of think of it like a puzzle.
So you take you put in a piece there, and then you free up a piece somewhere else to either do an internship during the year, do a volunteer project, travel, you know what, just really like sky's the limit of what you can do with that. And to me like, that flexibility, and also just sort of like going to school in New Hampshire, in the middle of summer did feel a bit like summer camp. So that was attractive as well.
So, a little bit about your interests in high school. I mean, just to give some background before we came to Dartmouth. So what are the kinds of things that you were interested in high school outside of class, of course?
Yes, so I was, I was kind of like a political junkie, I would say, um, like I, you know, in school, my favorite classes were like, civics, English history, things like that. I loved current events.
I did, you know, like a summer program in DC, like that type of thing. So I love politics. I was also pretty active in volunteering. I was in the Key Club in high school, I was impressed by that.
And I also, I think, just really had a passion for other countries, and for traveling. I actually spent my senior year of high school as a foreign exchange student in Germany, which was a super interesting experience. And one, I think I'm grateful for the fact that that Dartmouth and other colleges recognized that while academically that year, I might have, you know, not applied myself as hard as I did when you're in the States, I think the the personal growth there was pretty huge.
Okay, so after all, that you arrive at Dartmouth. And how is that transition from high school to college? Maybe we can start with the academic part of it, and then we can lead into other aspects.
Yeah, so I was always a very, I would say, like, studious, high achieving person, what will you and I.
But I think I was a little bit surprised that at, how intense the just, you know, college level classes or in general, which, no, I don't think that's necessarily like an experience unique to me, right? Sure. But I think I sort of quickly learns, like, Oh, you know, that I can do this reading that, you know, that on the bus on the way to school anymore. Like, right, this is serious.
Um, and I think I also just didn't fully appreciate sort of just the breadth of, of courses and sort of like lines of academic pursuit that would be available to me, which I was so excited about. And I think I really took advantage of while I was there.
But I will say it and I think this goes back to, again, the size of Dartmouth, they do a really great job of, you know, it's big enough that there's all these different opportunities, lots of different things to get involved in. But it's not so big that you're going to be lost in the shuffle. So you need like a bit more support, you know, that's there for you like people, your professors, classes are small enough people notice if you're not coming to class. Uh huh.
You know, professors notice if like, you look a little tired or, like go above and beyond to help you.
What was the, were the classes, the topics and courses challenging? I mean, obviously, there was a step up, but is it something that hard work was able to overcome that, or how do you feel about that?
Yeah, I mean, it's The kind of thing where I think for me, it was a reminder to, like, choose my classes carefully in the sense. And a person who, you know, if it's something that I'm really passionate about, I'm really interested in it, you know, it doesn't always, you know, it doesn't feel like as much work thing that I'm less interested in.
Yeah, and Dartmouth was great in that, you know, there were distribution requirements. So it wasn't just a total free for all. But they were still pretty flexible, like, there were a number of classes that you could take to fit each one, a lot of distribution requirements, I fulfilled, not even intending to, it's just naturally through what I was choosing to take, started checking off the boxes.
So that was also I think, something that was really appealing to me, because, you know, looking at some schools, where it was a pretty strict, you have to take “x” number of these classes, or like, you know, other side of the spectrum, like all freshmen go through some sort of core curriculum, and I was definitely not not interested in people continue to tell me what to do like that.
Um, so you mentioned a little bit about the classes, how was, how were your classmates appears? I mean, what, what was that? Like? How was the general distribution and demographic, demographics of the students?
Yeah. I hard to say, I mean, all of like, the demographics and geography and stuff. Like, I think that's all online.
What, what what stands out to me is just how passionate everyone was about, you know, whatever it was, that was sort of like their thing, right?
So we had people from mostly all over the world from either like, 49, or all 50 states, like totally different backgrounds, different interests. But I think what united everyone was just that, like, everyone had something or most commonly, like a few things where once they started talking about it, you could just see, like, their whole face light up, they bubble over with excitement about, like, whatever it was that they were studying, or doing or doing that summer, like taking off, you know, a term next year to go travel to wherever.
And so I think that, like, you know, yes, it's a, it's a community where you can feel a little bit like, oh, my goodness, there's so many, like, different kinds of people. You know, I don't know where I fit in. I do you think there is that underlying, like, sense of sense of community.
Sure. Sure. How was the teaching and the professors? How are the classes?
Yes. So I felt like I was really lucky, in the sense that I remember going on college tours and hearing people talk about like, Oh, yeah, you know, we like, go to dinner with our professors. And I've been over to their houses and things like that.
I remember wondering, like, does that actually happen that like the thought of going to a high school teacher’s house for dinner, felt like, really weird to me. But then lo and behold, I got to Dartmouth and I was like, Oh, no, this actually does happen.
But then lo and behold, I got to Dartmouth as like, Oh, no, this actually does happen. Um, so I think again, it all goes back to like, it is a small enough school and the focus is on the undergrads that I would say the vast, vast, vast majority of professors, and especially all the ones I had, like, they were there, because they love teaching, and they love teaching undergrads.
And if you are someone who you just want to research or you want to push everything off onto TAs and teach huge classes, like you don't end up at Dartmouth, mainly, because like, I don't think we had to, you know, maybe there were like a hand, right, but we helped great papers, but it was much more like, you know, 12 students sitting around a seminar room with a professor or like, I think a big class at Dartmouth would be like 50 to 100 people.
And, yeah, so that, you know, we would go over to professor's houses for, for dinner, like office hours, it was highly encouraged that, you know, you would go in, you could go and chat about, like, really anything, didn't necessarily have to be something related to relate it to class.
So, yeah, I would say I had a pretty strong relationships with professors over the years. You can definitely get in touch with a few.
Now, did you go in with a decided major? Or did you decide to do that? After a couple of years? I know you've You said you're a political junkie in high school. And did you decide to study a major in government and all that and public policy? Or did you, is that something that happened while you were at Dartmouth?
Yes. So I came in, I think I came in officially undecided. Just because like they don't make you declare, made sure until your sophomore year, so it was like, there's really, there's really no rush. Sure.
But I was a government major. And actually, in addition to that was a public policy minor. Namely, because the Public Policy only available as a minor, so you actually can't major in it. Uh huh. And I also picked up oddly enough, a Native American studies minor, simply because I took a couple classes, absolutely loved them, loved the department, I think I realized that you only needed like six classes or something for a minor and I think that was at like, four or five out of six.
But I think what I appreciate about well, I guess both the Native American studies that the the Government and Public Policy was that it was a nice mixture of you know, the social sciences, statistics, history.
I find myself again, and again, you know, whether it's at work, doing research or taking, you know, a bunch of concepts and distilling it down into, you know, a shorter argument. I think it's like such an applicable major to, to so many things in life. I think, looking back, I might have pushed myself a little bit harder to explore classes out of my comfort zone.
But I don't think I would change my major if I could go back.
So, let's kind of move to campus life. Maybe we could start with the dorm living and the food and then move on to cultural social stuff.
Yeah, so the dorms have actually changed a little bit since I've been there. And I, since I didn't live through this, I don't want to spread any misinformation.
But when I was there, it was a lot of sort of, like, shuffling around again, just going back to that, like, the D plan, I think, yeah, you know, people are often they're on there, they want to live with this person, this term, and they're moving here for the next term. And they have made or, they made strides to change that by it's almost like a housing system, I think, or maybe they even call it that where you sort of stick in the same cluster all four years. So even if you know your off for a term if you come back, you'll be somewhere within that cluster.
But my experience with, with the dorms was, was always great. And even like freshman year, I was in the River, which is I think noted for being one of like, the furthest dorms from the center of campus, but I don't know, I think you just, you know, get a good winter coat, you'll be fine.
But also what makes the dorms unique is that it's a nice mixture of those sort of, like older you know, like old brick buildings from ages ago, and then the newer dorms that are all like, sleek and modern. But I would say it's, it's pretty hard to to really lose when it comes to when it comes to housing there. Uh huh.
Then actually my senior year I lived off campus, but off campus is like, I don't know, it's, it's a little bit misleading because half the time you live off campus, and you're actually closer to campus than some of the others are, just because Hanover is not that big. Right. But I lived in a house with three of my friends.
And that was a, that was a great experience.
Cool. So how about the I mean, I'm guessing the food plans and all that standard stuff, but how is the general food I know that? Yeah, we'll have a love hate relationship with the food on campus. Yeah,
Yeah, I think Yeah, like you said, I think they might have changed the meal plans since I've been there. So I won't go into the specifics of that. But, But I don't think it's changed. The food was excellent.
Okay. It's funny, my friends and I still look back on there is this one, our source, our Student Center was Collis. And they are known for just having really good, like baked goods and soups and just really like, imagine what you would want to dig into on a cold New Hampshire day, but like to this day, my friends, and I still talk about Collis soup and trying to recreate the recipes and things like that.
So, maybe we can talk a little bit about the social, cultural, as well as, you know, clubs and activities, organized sort of activities.
Yeah, so I think Dartmouth can sometimes feel a little unapproachable, and to some folks, because a lot of the social life does revolve around the Greek system. Um, I and if that's like, not your thing, I totally understand that.
But at least from my experience, I felt like that was a big thing, a big part of what I liked about the social experience, at least, I had.
So a couple things to note, I guess. You don't rush until your sophomore year, which I think most schools rushes like, freshman fall, right, you show up to campus, even like before classes start. And so then you just kind of start college and it's like, well, you're my friends because I'm in a sorority or something like that. Right.
But because we don't rush until sophomore fall, by that point, it's like you've had an entire year of making friends taking classes, joining clubs, like you're already sort of have, you know, a sense of your place, you have a bunch of activities you're doing.
So I joined a sorority, and honestly just kind of felt like I was like adding one more club to the mix like, Uh huh. It did not take over my identity. No, it didn't interfere with classes or anything else I was already involved in. And it was just kind of a nice way to, to get to know women that I wouldn't have gone to no other way.
So I already had some girls on the basketball team and girls who were pre med and you know, people that in my sort of like Government Public Policy bubble I just hadn't hadn't run into you before.
And then, you know, it was also like a fun outlet. We did events with other fraternities and sororities, and had formals, and socials and things like that. And even now, it's still I remember, my, my high school guidance counselor actually told me like, half the reason you do those kinds of things is so that when you go back as an alum, you sort of have that network. And I remember I went back for my first reunion and went to my sorority house, and I was like, Oh, I kinda, I kind of see what she means. Like, it's just, it's really fun to like, have this place to go back to sure.
But yeah, and then I would also say, like, I think 60% of eligible students are in a fraternity or sorority, so eligible, meaning the sophomores, juniors and seniors. So right, that means 40% aren’t. And a Greek life is pretty open in the sense that like, you do not need to be in a particular house, you don't need your your name doesn't have to be on the list or anything like that to go to most of the parties and events.
Now obviously, like a formal or something like that aside, but my you know, I mentioned like my best friend went to Dartmouth, she was not in a sorority, she came with me, she actually kind of I think, got the best of both worlds because she didn't have to pay sorority dues, but she still got to go with me to like all of my sorority events.
So what kind of what kind of, what were you what are the activities that you were involved in on campus? I mean, what did you do, Yeah, more of?
I think one of my looking back, one of my favorite clubs I was in was a mentoring program called DREAM, which is definitely an acronym that they forced their way into Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure and Mentoring. Wow.
It was a nonprofit that was actually founded at Dartmouth I think in the 90s. And since has grown to a couple of other schools in the New England area, grew to Philly. So I think there's a DREAM chapter at Penn now and Temple and a couple other in the Philly area. But that was a mentoring program that paired students up with kids and teens from the Upper Valley area, which is the broader area around Dartmouth. Which Hanover itself is a pretty, I think just because the cluster of professors and other professionals, I think Hanover like socio-economically is a bit of a different place than the surrounding area, right.
So I was assigned a mentee my freshman year who then I stuck with all four years. And actually one of the I think most memorable parts of college is um for all of the teams and that mentoring program. Every other year, the the mentors and teens spend pretty much an entire calendar year fundraising for and planning a trip to somewhere in US.
So we fundraise and planned a trip that was basically like driving around California and camping in like the Tahoe area and Yosemite. And for for a lot of the so and we went on that the summer after my junior year for, for two weeks. And it was the first time a bunch of the kids in the program had been on an airplane. First for a bunch of them, certainly the first time they had camped before like, it was just such an amazing experience to you know, go through that entire process with them and then get to go on a really memorable trip.
Very nice. Any other activities... ?
I could talk about DREAM all day. And additions that I think I mentioned was talking about sophomore summer I was in the Student Assembly, which is just our student government. I held a couple of positions in that. And that was fun that like I got to meet some really interesting people. And it was just really fun to like, you know, work on ways to make a place I already loved, feel even better.
And then see what else in addition to that I was also a tour guide if you can believe that the way I'm I'm rambling on I'm um, but actually what I loved about being a tour guide was even on like that my darkest days where you know, I didn't sleep because I was up all night writing a paper, like was really busy doing something for for DREAM or you know, just like running around doing a million different things.
It was always really fun to meet prospective students, get to talk about Dartmouth and just like, remind myself how lucky I was to get to spend four years at such an amazing place.
I wanted to ask you, is there anything more you'd like to add about the sophomore summer? I mean, it sounds like a pretty fun thing. Is that any? I mean any highlights that you want to share? Or is that...?
Yeah, no, it was it was like truly amazing. I feel I remember my first thought when some sort of COVID hit in schools, you know, started canceling or sending people home or doing things over zoom I remember thinking like oh man it you know, it's one thing to take a class on Zoom in New Hampshire in the middle of March when Yes, it can still be snowing but like missing sophomore summer has really hurt.
But it was it was just it was just such an a, an amazing experience to like, you get out of class and then like go down to the river and go canoeing, and then you know that night we like a Student Assembly meeting because you're the summer president and get to feel what that's like.
And you know, most people take either a lighter class load or you know, try to save some easier classes for the summer. Understandably, I think it's a little bit hard.
Folks who are athletes, obviously, like athletes aren't in season then. So I got to spend so much more time with those folks who like when they're in season, you know, you never see them because they're right, traveling or whatever. But yeah, it was also a time to like, I would say I thought I was an outdoorsy person. And then I got to Dartmouth and I was like, Oh, no, there are like, mountain climbers. And like seriously outdoorsy people, but it's, it's such a great time to take advantage of, of, you know, just all of the, like, the hiking and the swimming and camping, and everything around the area.
Let's move forward and maybe we can talk a little bit about what you did during the various college summers. We know what you did after sophomore year. So how about the other summers?
I promise, I did study sometimes!
But yeah, so my actually, my, my first summer, I participated in a program called first year fellows, and that is through the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. And it's really an incredible program. So it's fairly selective, in the sense that you, you know, there's certain classes you have to take, you have to apply, do an interview to get in. But luckily, I knew some upperclassmen who had done and were able to offer me some really helpful advice and sort of like helped me through the process, which I will say is not an uncommon experience, whether it's you're applying for something internal or an external job, or just need help in the class, everyone is super, super friendly and willing to help.
But anyway, so the First Year Fellows Program matches, about 2o 1st year students matches everyone up with an internship in Washington DC, with a mentor who is a Dartmouth alum. And that mentor might not necessarily be like your, your boss, if you will, for the summer. But right, they are the ones who, you know, sort of shepherd this through their organization find some sort of role or position for you. And then are just sort of there to help you throughout the summer.
And the whole program kicks off with like a three day boot camp for basically like how to be an adult. So like, we were to your internship and what you should not wear, like how to send an email appropriately, how to write a good memo, like, even like little things that you don't realize, like how to, you know, get your boss's attention when they're busy.
But, so I was an intern in the Department of Education. And it was a really interesting experience, I can give me the insight that I didn't necessarily want to go into after graduation. But it was, again, like a great experience. I'm not sure how I would have gotten that internship without this program and without the Dartmouth connection. But it's also the Rockefeller Center sets you up with housing, so you don't need to worry about that. And they and they house everyone together. So you get to know the other folks in the cohort really well. And that was just a really, really great summer.
My Junior summer, didn't go quite so well. So I actually ended up living on campus, or actually living in the, in the house that I lived in here. But I stuck around campus and did research for a professor in the Public Policy department and then had a couple of like, various jobs. Because that was right after, sort of like Financial crisis and everything was grinding to a halt. And I had an internship lined up to do like marketing and branding in New York, and then the company just ended up not taking anyone you know, they like yeah, no money for interns.
And I remember panicking and being like, well, I'm never gonna get a job like this is this is all phone spending my junior summer which is like the most important one just doing research and I think if like if I could, if I could tell myself anything Looking back, I would say like, calm down. I did in fact job I got many jobs after graduation and went on to graduate school.
But looking back that, you know, it was a nice, it was another nice summer just to like, spend some time in New Hampshire, spend time with my friends and getting to, getting to know the professor's a little bit better.
Question that I like to ask everybody if, if you were to do this all over again, What would you do differently? What are the things that you felt you didn't do enough of, you did too much of, or whichever way, there was any such thing?
Yeah. So I guess two things I would do differently are like one I, I didn't study abroad when I was at Dartmouth, which I don't on the one hand, it's like, I don't regret it in the sense that I don't necessarily know like, what term I spent on campus, I would give up like I, again, like really valued all of my classes and all the activities I was involved in. And I was also coming off of just you know, having lived in Germany for 10 months. So it's not like I had a lack of, of international experience.
But I do think all of my friends who did a study abroad, just had great things to say about it. And yeah, had a ton of fun, I learned a lot, got to spend time with the other folks on the program. So I think that that's one thing I tried to make time for.
And the second is I think I would have pushed myself to take like classes that I quote unquote, thought were too hard. I don't think I necessarily played it easy. But I remember like, being interested in for example, like some Econ classes, and, you know, it seems like, oh, everyone thought that they were like a lot of work. And they talked about all these like problem sets. I was like, Oh, I don't know, I don't that's not for me, I don't want to do that. And then a couple of other things like that, because I mentioned since I've gone to grad school, and when I got to business school, a lot of the classes, I was like, wait, that's, that's all. That's it, like, I can totally do this.
Um, so I think I would have, would have learned, learned that a bit earlier on. And Dartmouth actually makes it pretty easy to experiment like that. It just again, for whatever reason, I don't think I I took advantage of it enough but something called NRO, which is like Non Recording Option, and three of those. And it's, again, to encourage you to take hard classes and what that how it works is you set whatever like grade as your low, you know, like the lowest one, you have your transcript. So let's say I take like Organic Chemistry, which actually probably is too hard for me. But let's say I take that and I set my NRO at, like a C plus. So if I get a C plus or above, that'll be on my transcript, it'll count great.
If I get below that, as long as I don't fail, it'll just show up as an NRO. And then you know, anyone see my transcripts in the future, we'll just say like, you know, pass, so they won't know that what grade I actually got.
I think it's, I think it still counts as a credit, but not as a distribution requirement at another. There's some things there. But again, I think I would have, would have taken advantage of that when I had the chance.
Talking of aspiring students, I'd like you to, sort of based on your experience, and based on that, you know, subsequently going to grad school, and now where you are - what would you advise all these students who are applying to that Dartmouth, applying to college in general, what are the things you should have asked them to do or not to do?
Yeah, so I would set like, I think, you know, I think people get really hung up on like, what's going to get me in, like, if I do this while I get into this school, it's like, it just doesn't, you know, just doesn't work that way. And also, like, if I have information, I would be harnessing that in different ways than I am right now.
Um, so I would say that like, really schools are just looking for like, students who are genuinely passionate about whatever it is, that is their, you know, their thing that that gets them excited and have a have like a genuine love of learning? it you know, and I don't think like, it's quite a simple formula as to, you know, be really good at XYZ and you know, you'll be indispensable to any top school.
And I also do think it's pretty, it's pretty evident when people are doing something, just to, just because they think it'll help them in the process. Also sort of like, that's pretty, I think nearsighted in the sense that like, yes, you know, say, like, going to colleges is important and going to a good college, I think is, you know, probably going to help you That being said, like, you also have to live your life. And if you're doing something just because it's going to get you into college, with the exception of like, the SAT or something like that. Right. You know, I think that's pretty unfortunate.
And then it's also like, you know, Dartmouth is amazing. And like I mentioned, I can't imagine going anywhere, anywhere else. But it'd be pretty weird if I was like, Yes, there's this one school and they admit, you know, 1000 students a year, and that, you know, that's it and everyone else, like tough luck. I, you know, I just don't think that's the case.
So, I would say there's, there's lots of Dartmouth's out there for the rest of the world. If, if that makes sense.
And I think it's a, you know, it's important to find a school where the students there really love it, I think at the end of the day that is going to, again, like create the same experience I had for, for other people. So if, you know, students are really passionate about the school and the community and, you know, you see that in signs of like, people donating people going back to reunions, strong alumni organizations, like hiring, you know, big sports schools, like whatever it is, if you can tell people really love the school, then I think they're going to create that, that same, just that same like community and support network. And that's how you get, you know, 10 years later, your your best friends are still from from the school you went to.
So I would say like, I would encourage people to, to sort of use that as, as one of their, you know, litmus tests for whether a school is worth getting excited about.
Okay, so we're now kind of ending, I mean, nearing the end of a podcast. So I just wanted to kind of give you a chance to maybe talk about something about Dartmouth that we haven't touched on any memories, anything you want to speak more about, you know, any any of those things or more.
I am trying to say, I guess, one thing that is really special that I didn't touch on is, I think maybe I should mention this in between high school and college, but like, the Dartmouth experience just kicks off in a really special way.
So something like over 90% of students go on what's known as a first year trip, and that is put on by the DOC to the Dartmouth Outing Club, which is one of the biggest clubs on campus. And it's like All Things Wilderness.
And these are trips, typically with about 10 or so first year students, and then maybe a little less, and then to upper class leaders who end the trips range from height, but in there, say about three days, spend the night on campus, and then go off into the wilderness for like three or four days and then spend a night at a cabin and that that's out in the middle of nowhere place called Mount Moosilauke.
And the trips ranged from like canoeing to hiking to rock climbing to one that's just like hanging out in the cabin if you don't want to do outdoor activities.
But I went on a hiking trip. And it's just a really fun way to you know, I think everyone's sort of in the same boat of like, you know, there's just a lot of unknowns about starting this whole college thing. A lot of people you know, might only know one other person from their high school or maybe they don't know anyone who's going to be in the class.
It's a nice way to get to know people. And then also just have that time with your trip leaders to ask like anything weighing on your mind.
But that is just a really like special, fun tradition. But I think they start with really, really unique. And it's just another I think, example of that. Just that culture and community I was talking about.
Very good. No, this is, this has been a very good trip down memory lane show for you. And certainly enjoyed listening to this whole experience. So I want to kind of, first of all, thank you for the time and thanking for the effort. And thank you for sharing all the stories.
And I'm sure this is going to be of great benefit and use for our listeners. So thank you again, and I'm sure we'll talk more and dive deeper into things as we go forward. But for now, thank you and take care.
Awesome, thank you. Thank you.
Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Karen Doster about Dartmouth.
Karen’s Dartmouth experience is full of enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm for the school, for the classes, the professors, her peers and the extracurricular opportunities afforded to her.
Her defining Dartmouth experience has to be the Sophomore Summer.
I hope Karen has motivated you to check out Dartmouth further.
For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Thank you so much for listening to our podcast today.
Many thanks to the Counseling firm Admissionado for introducing me to today’s guest, Karen Doster.
Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].
Till we meet again, take care and be safe.
US Colleges, College Admissions, University of Pittsburgh, Pitt, Study Abroad, India, China, Extracurricular, International Students, Model UN, Common Application, Common App, College Essays, Innovation, Gig Economy, Thesis, Capstone, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Business Development, Dubai, Singapore, Grab, Ride-Sharing.