By Erin Landau, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, April 27, 2012
Getting that acceptance letter from Dartmouth was probably one of the most momentous experiences of my life. Just like the rest of the ’15s, I immediately read all the information about Dartmouth that I could get my hands on. I signed up for meet-ups, contacted my roommates and obviously requested to be a part of the Dartmouth Class of 2015 Facebook group.
Luke Decker ’15, who is a member of the Dartmouth track and field team, decided that he was going to Dartmouth in early May and jokingly called himself a “late bloomer.” He found that the only real way to get connected to other ’15s was through the Facebook page, on which he posted two or three times throughout the summer before his freshman year.
“Over the summer, I became friends with people over Facebook and on my team,” Decker said. “Some people I met I Skyped with daily, and I actually met one of my best friends here through Facebook."
He said, however, that the closest connections he made before Dartmouth were with his Big Green track teammates.
“Right when we got our blitz, we started a group blitz that I checked every day,” he said.
Austin Murphy ’13 said she recognizes the stigma associated with the Facebook page, however, especially since her sister is an incoming member of the Class of 2016.
“There’s a lot of stuff that’s put on there that isn’t necessary,” she said. “A girl in my [sorority] started the group, but she doesn’t really talk about it for obvious reasons.”
One of the main issues with this mode of communication that students have to watch out for is the discrepancy between people’s real-life versus online personas. There are always those horror stories of roommates who seem so nice on Facebook but turn crazy under the harsh light of Hanover.
“You don’t get the full picture of people online,” Murphy said. “For me, my roommate wasn’t a problem, but there were some people on the Facebook page who posted all the time, so it was really funny to see them in real life.”
A way to avoid this disappointment is to actually get to know potential friends and classmates at city-wide meet-ups. These events are often set up by alumni, with the potential for extreme awkwardness, or fellow students, with the potential for high school debauchery.
Jessica Ke ’15, who hails from Memphis, Tenn., attended a meet up with the four other members of the Class of 2015 from the surrounding area who found each other through the yearbook function of the Dartmouth 2015 webpage.
“None of us knew each other, but we had lots of mutual friends, so the meet-up was relatively successful and low-key,” she said.
She added that though she did not remain good friends with these people, “it’s still nice to know them because there are not a lot of people from the South in general. We all coordinate flights and ways to get home, since it’s pretty hard getting home from Hanover.”
Murphy comes from Westchester, N.Y., where the alumni network is massive, and scores of people matriculate at Dartmouth each year. She created a Facebook group specifically for Dartmouth ’13s in the greater New York area, which made organizing meet-ups a lot easier.
“If you organize these things online through Facebook, people actually want to come, so we usually had a really good turnout,” she said. “The meet-ups enabled us make a network for when we got to Dartmouth. I actually made some of my best friends through the events.”
Murphy said the New Yorkers organized some awkward restaurant meet-ups that were difficult to orchestrate because of the chaotic nature of the New York restaurant scene. Her solution to this problem was to rent apartments in the city for a night so students could spend time alone.
“It was like going to a house, but a lot of the kids weren’t actually from the city, so they didn’t have apartments,” she said. “It was a lot more casual than the alumni meet-ups, and you got to mix with different people.”
One could argue the most important people to get to know before coming to college are your roommates, the people you will be spending five days a week with living in a cramped two-room triple and sharing what little closet space is available.
Micayla Oniskey ’15 and her roommate were fortunate enough to live in the same city and thus were able to meet prior to move-in day. They both live in Boston and went to lunch together in the city, spending the entire afternoon together.
“Afterwards, she would text me occasionally, and we both came up to Dartmouth at the same time,” she said. “But she was on crew and knew a lot of people already, so we hung out a lot but didn’t really go out together.”
Most people aren’t that lucky, however, and have to resort to messaging on Facebook, which gets tricky due to the aforementioned identity switch that can occur in the real world. So remember, while posting incessantly on the Facebook page and repeatedly messaging your roommate may sound like a good idea at the time, take a step back and remember that you will have four years to get to know Dartmouth and all the people in it.