I arrived on campus on August 12, went to a student-organized welcome barbecue (see Marcy’s post for details) to meet my classmates, and left bright and early the following morning for Outward Bound’s Hurricane Island School where five days of sailing in the Gulf of Maine awaited. Jeff has a great summary of the OB experience in his post, and he and I started off the week as shipmates (coincidentally, he, another shipmate, and I are now in the same study group, so the bonds formed there have been invaluable here). Outward Bound does a great job of mixing up the crews over the course of the week, so I got to spend time with 23 classmates, in the close quarters of a 30’ sailing vessel. Consistent with Outward Bound’s focus on self-awareness, the program was unique in how it uncovered your basic leadership style by placing you into an environment where you had no subject matter expertise. So often in the business world, managers and other leaders have the benefit of subject matter knowledge that informs their decision-making capabilities. Not so here! We all got to see how we would lead a team given a poor understanding of all of the moving parts, and the feedback sessions were both insightful and fun. At the end of the week, we went to a local lobster shack for Maine lobsters—we ate like kings and relived great memories of that week!
The next week (Week 2), I participated in the Tuck Outdoor Trips, a great opportunity to get to know your classmates while experiencing the beauty of the Upper Valley. Two types of trips were offered: stationary (see Dennis’ blog post) and roving. I love backpacking, so I chose a roving trip. There were six of us (plus a guide and a T’13) in the roving group, and we had a blast! Each day we spent the night at a different Dartmouth-owned cabin in an idyllic setting (usually on a large pond, which meant we could go canoeing or swimming to rinse off the day's sweat). During the day, we hiked on the Appalachian Trail (we did about 8-9 miles per day) and enjoyed the stunning landscapes. The Dartmouth cabins are a “hidden gem” of the Tuck experience; some cabins are located close to campus while others are further flung, but they provide a great incentive to get out and explore the area while a student (also providing a nice change in environment during the middle of a busy week). Having a T’13 on the trip was great, as he was able to answer all of our questions, some of great import (like details on Tripod Hockey) and some of lesser consequence (every other topic). The trip culminated with the roving and stationary trips meeting at the Class of ’66 Lodge for an evening of fun (skits were involved; they were hilarious).
Though orientation week was only three weeks ago, it is a blur. I met the rest of my classmates, my study group, my section (the group of students in my classes for the Fall A and B terms), my dorm hallmates, administrators, faculty, and the friendliest custodians ever. Remembering all these names would be challenging for even a photographic memory; I am glad that we are still, after two weeks of classes, wearing name tags! Highlights of the orientation week included a day of community outreach where we worked with a local organization on one of their challenges, a day at the Dartmouth Skiway that involved some great (and absolutely zany) teambuilding games, and a mock class focusing on time management (Juliet has eloquently posted on FOMO, and I think I have one of the more advanced cases). While orientation week was jam packed with activities, I thought things would calm down once classes started, since we typically only have classes in the morning during Fall A.
Oh, how wrong I was! The intensity picked up as we got used to our workload and working with our study group. The mornings were filled with classes (typically two classes of 90 minutes’ duration) and the afternoon contained study group meetings and preparing for the following day. I was impressed with the teaching ability of the faculty and how they were able to structure the classroom time for effective learning relevant to a general management role (if you don't think statistics class can be fun, visit campus soon and sit in on what is perhaps the funniest class I have ever taken, Statistics for Managers (part of Tuck's core curriculum)). In the second week of classes, the T’13s came back to campus and club activities started up (with a dizzying assortment of activities presented at the Club Fair). The week culminated with two take-home midterms, which was something of a shock: I have been in classes for two weeks, and already I’m taking midterms? The midterms, and our professors’ approach to them, is a strong indication of the importance of the honor code to Tuck’s community. We were free to take the open-book, open-note exams at any time over the course of the weekend in a contiguous 2 hour block of time, and we were on our honor to behave ethically. What a great testament to the trust that is the bedrock of our community, and what a great way to reinforce the importance of acting ethically, even when no-one is watching, both at school and in business.
While the mid-terms could have been stressful, I decided to combat it by going whitewater rafting on the Deerfield River in Massachusetts with fellow Tuckies—it was definitely the right call! The river was challenging but fun, and it got my mind off of the economics and statistics I’d been studying. Regardless of how I do on the tests, I think I’m going to make a habit of incorporating outdoor activities into my studying regimen! And, to celebrate completing midterms, a group of us went to one of the Dartmouth cabins for Sunday night, enjoying the star-gazing and relaxing after a busy weekend. We drove back to campus early on Monday for an 8:30am class and, more importantly, the trip to the sporting goods store to buy hockey equipment for this week’s Tripod Hockey tryouts!
It’s been a fast (and furious) five weeks, but each day has left me feeling assured that I made the right choice in coming to Tuck for what is shaping up to be a great two years!