A Living Legacy
By Mackenzie Bohannon, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, May 4, 2012
We’ve all heard the insane marriage statistics (apparently one in 10 Dartmouth students will marry each other) and seen the alumni in the basements celebrating their 15th reuinions. While Dartmouth is always plagued by controversy, our college still has those who love it, even enough to send their children here. But how is your Dartmouth experience affected if you have parents who also attended?
To my surprise, very few legacy students with whom I spoke cited their parents as the primary reason they chose Dartmouth. Rather, they said that after their parents introduced them to the school, they fell in love with the College on the Hill on their own.
“More than anything, [they] really increased my familiarity with Dartmouth,” Anna Fagin ’13 said of her parents, who are both alumni. “When I was visiting other places, Dartmouth was my baseline, and that definitely influenced my decision a lot.”
Lucy Morris ’14 decided on coming despite initial hesitation.
“I was trying to find a school that had all the things I had grown up to expect from a college that wasn’t Dartmouth,” she said. “I never found it.”
Similarly, these legacy students rarely said they had a significant understanding of Dartmouth student life before matriculating despite having grown up with alumni parents. They did, however, have a decidedly positive impression of it. Nora Hodgson ’13, for example, always associated the school with vacation, having only visited the school for summer tennis camp prior to applying.
“It was definitely a special treat,” she said. “Being there in the summer made it seem like the perfect kind of school — a utopia.”
Fagin also said she saw Dartmouth in a positive, if distant, light.
“I always associated with it as this foreign thing, even though it was really familiar because I was always here,” she said “In my mind, it was for big kids — as a child, it was always kind of my parents’ thing.”
This positive image could easily have been created or at least reinforced by parents who love the school.
“I have yet to go a term without seeing my parents,” Fagin said.
Jeffrey Yates ’15 also said his parents, both of whom are Dartmouth alumni, visit at least once a term. When they do visit, Yates said he always enjoys hearing them talk about what has changed about the school since they went there.
“They hardly recognize all the new buildings that have been built since they were here,” he said. “My dad was an engineer at [the Thayer School of Engineering], and he remembers a very different place than how it is now.”
Above all, these legacies remain in the unique position of being able to share a little bit of history with their family. Both Fagin’s and Morris’ parents met here through extracurricular and social activities, and all three girls feel they are able to bond with their parents over their Dartmouth experiences and adventures, they said.
Fagin recalled hearing a story from her grandfather about a road trip he took during his junior summer in which he met the person who served as the inspiration for the character Flounder in “Animal House” (1978).
“It’s pretty cool to share those stories, that tradition,” Fagin said.
Yates said he has gotten a lot closer with his parents since he chose to attend Dartmouth due to their ability to share their experiences with each other.
“It’s something powerful to share the same college which means so much to all of us and brings us together,” he said.
The act of sharing this tradition clearly breeds loyalty to the school in the families of legacies, along with a more vested interest in its forward progression.
“My parents always say that their favorite thing about coming up to visit is to see what good has remained and how much of what needed to be changed is being changed,” she said. “They’re so much happier with the Dartmouth I go to than the Dartmouth they went to.”
Hopefully, should any of our children go here, we will be able to say the same.