This winter break, select students were able to participate in Create Your Path, an advising program sponsored by the Rockefeller Center. The program, currently open to sophomores who have previously participated in Rockefeller Center programs and international students, offers students an opportunity to reflect on their experiences at the College and formulate goals for the future. The program is still in its developmental stages, but has seen an increase in participation since its inception during the summer of 2011.
Create Your Path was previously open only to sophomores who have previously participated in Rockefeller Center programs. This winter break marked the first time international students were also invited to participate in the program since many of them were on campus during the extended interim period, Rockefeller Center Assistant Director for Co-Curricular Programs Danielle Thompson said.
"We're really looking for students to come away with more clarity in their personal goals, their professional goals, their academic goals and to link them to resources," Thompson said.
Create Your Path requires students to watch six YouTube videos created by the program to prompt their thought process, take notes on their own and attend a session and a dinner with the other students participating, Thompson said.
Originally, Create Your Path involved in-person dinner discussions and two-hour sessions. While students responded well to the content of this format, they struggled to accept the time commitment, Thompson said. Working with facilitator Darin Eich, Rockefeller Center staff tailored the program to better fit the Dartmouth lifestyle.
Thompson said that 21 students participated during the summer of 2011, 24 during the summer of 2012 and approximately 40 students were granted access to the videos over winter break.
"We're looking at Create Your Path as something where you're sitting in the driver seat, and in order to move forward you have to make mistakes," she said. "You have to be able to look through the rearview mirror and see where you've been, but you also need to be able to see how things are going to progress and how you are going to move forward and achieve your goals."
Rockefeller Center staff also made a Facebook group for current and past participants to network and engage in their own informal discussions.
Thompson said that the program is designed for busy, active and mobile students using technology.
"We've given students access through Blackboard, but they are YouTube videos so you can take out your mobile device and put your headphones on with your iPad and watch it on the bus coming back to campus," Thompson said. "It's something that can be done totally on the fly without even extra materials on hand just with a smartphone or a tablet and a notebook."
Invo Chami '16, an international student, said the program was something she needed because it helped her contemplate what she wants to do with her time at the College.
"There were a lot of things I missed for the first term because I didn't really know that they even existed at Dartmouth," Chami said. "That's what it helps you do. It helps you realize what the things that you value the most are and the things that I wanted to do here."
Chami said she would recommend the program to other international students, especially because it is rare to have time to think about the future with a busy schedule at Dartmouth. She said she also sees Create Your Path as something that she would repeat in order to assess whether she had met her own goals.
"Create Your Path really does help you realize what you actually think about because you're being honest with yourself," Chami said. "You're the only person who sees it so you get to figure out what you want to do with yourself, reflect on what you've done in the past, what you don't want to do anymore and what you do want to do now."
Rachael Bornstein '14, who participated in Create Your Path last summer, said that though she found the program interesting and fun, it did not have any long-term effects on her Dartmouth career. She said she often participates in Rockefeller Center programs with her friends.
This summer, Thompson said she hopes to offer the program to all sophomores and eventually to all students. Other departments across campus have responded well to Create Your Path and have made efforts to learn more about the program, according to Thompson. Although it is run by the Rockefeller Center, the program aims to help students find their way at the College, even if their path does not lead to public policy or government.
"It's hard to fit everything in, so we were looking for something that would get back to the basics and give you a chance to breathe and to think about what you did so far and where you want to go," she said. "If that leads to more students in public policy or public service, then that's great, but if it leads to more artists and it leads to more Rhodes Scholars and it leads to more geneticists, then that's also an outcome that we would be really happy to support."