This post about the Dartmouth supplement to the Common Application is part of a series of posts written to help you complete the 2015 Common Application supplement for Ivy League and other top schools.
Dartmouth College, like the other Ivy League schools, accepts the Common Application essay. It also requires a supplemental essay response. The extra essay helps the admission committee round out the overall picture of the applicant. Don’t approach this as just another essay you have to write. Look at this as a wonderful opportunity for you to make a convincing statement about why Dartmouth is the ideal school for you to achieve your aspirations!
As you prepare to address one of the essay prompts, think about Dartmouth’s comprehensive character. Consider its location in Hanover, New Hampshire; if possible visit the campus and imagine yourself there as an undergraduate. Research the different ways that Dartmouth’s curriculum and approach to education are a good fit for your goals. Think about the specific activities, programs, or organizations that attract you to Dartmouth.
Beyond the information contained in the Common Application, the admission committee strives to gain a deeper understanding about the applicant through the supplemental essay response and its peer review requirement. You must include a letter of recommendation from a friend, classmate, family member, or someone else you regard as your peer. This requirement provides insight into how you might fit in at Dartmouth.
Dartmouth prides itself on learning with no boundaries. The year round quarter system offers flexibility for you to design your own calendar. You can enter any major without a need for institutional approval (this includes Engineering). It encourages students to: “Challenge yourself. Be yourself.” Don’t worry about choosing a common topic. Instead, focus on discussing that topic from your point of view. Your essay responses should express your individual story.
Your response should be between one paragraph and a page in length. Select from one of the prompts below.
Every name tells a story: Tell us about your name–any name: first, middle, last, nickname–and its origin.
This is your chance to tell your unique story. Your discussion can relate to a specific family history or set of assumptions. How is the origin of your name significant to you? Does your name hold strong family ties to other countries/movements/beliefs? Are you named after a relative or famous person? Spend a good portion of your essay discussing how this story relates to your sense of identity. What does the story of your name reflect about you? How do you feel about what your name represents?
Tell us about an intellectual experience, either directly related to your schoolwork or not, that you found particularly meaningful.
Your response to this prompt helps shed light on your thinking process and what is important to you. Your discussion should illustrate how you approach learning new things. You can select to share any intellectual experience. Why is this experience significant? Did this experience cause you to move out of your comfort zone? What did you learn about yourself?
When you meet someone for the first time, what do you want them to know about you, but generally don’t tell them?
This is an interesting question that asks you to share something fundamental about yourself. Something, that is central to your being that you want others to honor. This is an opportunity to talk about your identity and perspectives about the world. Do you feel pressure based on a set of outward characteristics? Do you feel judged or liberated in some way? What is important to you? What is your reaction to these feelings and why is it significant for others to know this secret about you?
Describe the influence your hero has had on your life.
As you select your hero, think about what this person reflects about you. What are his ideals? Why do you see her as a hero? The bulk of your discussion should focus on what impact your hero has had on you. How has he motivated you? How do you try to emulate her approach, commitment, passion, or way of being? Your response to this prompt, provides insight for the admissions committee about your values and aspirations.
We believe it is critical that your candidacy reflect the interests, experiences and pursuits that are most important to you. To this end, is there anything else you would like us to know?
This prompt is an open-ended question. The admissions committee doesn’t want to overlook something you hold dear. You can choose to discuss just about anything! Remember, they already have your letters of recommendations (counselor, teachers and peer), grades, SAT/ACT/AP/IB scores, curriculum, and list of extracurricular involvement. Tell them something important that is not included elsewhere in your application or highlight something significant to your identity/goals/life. Remember to relate this discussion to how Dartmouth is a good match for you and vise versa.
Note, if you have unusual curricular patterns, your counselor can mention this in the Secondary Education Report or you can discuss your circumstances in the “Additional Information” section of the Common Application.
The context of your academic success is a significant factor in determining your overall competitiveness as an applicant. The top applicants take the most rigorous curriculum available at their high schools. Furthermore, by achieving high grades, they demonstrate their ability to thrive in Dartmouth’s challenging academic environment. Dartmouth embraces a holistic approach to the admission process and is committed to reviewing all aspects of your application. However, keep in mind, it received 19,296 undergraduate applications for the class of 2018. Only 2,220 or 11.5% were offered admission and 93% were ranked in the top 10% of their high school graduating class with an average SAT score of 2,190 and ACT score of 32. Your essays are your opportunity to pull away from this extremely competitive applicant pool.
Throughout the application process, it is crucial to stay focused on your goals. Allow yourself enough time to reflect on your experiences in a unique way. Meet all deadlines and word limits. Be sure that your overall application clearly reflects your interests and motivations and enthusiastically demonstrates why Dartmouth is the best school to help you achieve your objectives!
By Marie Todd, Accepted’s college admissions specialist. Marie has worked in college admissions for over twenty years. She has both counseled applicants and evaluated applications. Most recently she evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology. She is available to assist you (or your child) with your applications.