Vox Populi: From High School to Dartmouth, Sans Graduation

Vox Populi is Dartmouth Now’s opinion department. It includes commentary written by members of the Dartmouth community that is intended to inform and enrich public conversation. The opinions expressed in these essays are the writers’ own.

Julia Seaman is a senior at Hanover High School. As part of Dartmouth’s Special Community Student High School Program, she completed the course “Medieval and Early Modern European History.”

Julia Seaman, a senior at Hanover High School, completed “Medieval and Early Modern European History” at the College. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

When I decided to take a history course at Dartmouth the fall of my senior year in high school, I did not anticipate that the most valuable thing in the whole process would be my bicycle. Without it, I would not have been able to pull off the speedy transition from my first-period French class at Hanover High School to my “Medieval and Early Modern European History” class in Carson L02. Getting to my 9 a.m. class on time took a brisk bike ride and several sprints down hallways and stairways. But every morning—with the exception of one day on the cold end of the term when my bike lock froze shut—I would walk through the door of the lecture hall with at least a minute to spare, which was more than enough time to sit down and have my pencil and notebook out, ready for the professor to start speaking.

An Early Start to College Studies, Thanks to Dartmouth

About 60 local high school juniors and seniors enroll at Dartmouth each year through the College’s Special Community Student High School Program.

Read more about the program.

While I couldn’t have been on time without my bike, I wouldn’t have had as much fun without the hardy pace of the class and the genuine enthusiasm of the professors.  I love medieval studies, and the opportunity to take a history class at Dartmouth was an amazing experience. Being responsible for reading a book each week as well as textbook readings was a bit daunting at first, but I got used to it. Each week was an exciting blur of furiously taking notes during lectures, flipping through the pages of the primary sources, and connecting them to the historical facts of the textbook. As I learned to manage my time and get the most out of the readings and lectures, I would come to the small group discussions at the end of the week full of opinions to share about the books, and would leave pondering the insights of my classmates.

Taking a college course not only helped my time management skills but also made me comfortable with lecture-based classes and college-level writing and exams. One of the most valuable lessons I took away from the course is that if you take the time to seek out your professors with questions during their office hours, it can make a huge difference in how much you take away from the course. I also learned the power of presence: If I hadn’t shown up at the lectures and taken the copious notes that I did, I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much lasting knowledge.

The term went by incredibly fast, and before I knew it, it was over. As I walked out of Carson after my final exam, my fingers sore from writing and my mind a daze of dates and concepts, I felt as if I had just biked another sprint between classes: tired but invigorated, and ready to take on the next challenge.