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The Essay Guide Series: Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College is part of the Ivy League community and is located in Hanover, New Hampshire. It is most famous for the fact that its students can choose which three terms in the year to attend. Dartmouth College has a very low acceptance rate which makes it extremely hard to get accepted to the university. In this guide, we will be looking at how to crack the supplementary prompts in their application. Their application has only two short essay prompts and while the first one has only one prompt, the other questions have 6 choices to pick from. Please read on to find out how to go about them.

1. Please respond in 100 words or fewer:

While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, delivered this memorable line: "It is, sir,…a small college, and yet there are those who love it!" As you seek admission to the Class of 2025, what aspects of the College's program, community, or campus environment attract your interest?

This is a question that requires you to look into everything the college has to offer its students. There is a reason why you’re interested in this college or its specific program, explore that interest. You need to research the institution well to answer this because your answer needs to reflect that. This is a short answer type essay so you really need to do some soul searching about what you want from your degree and university experience before going on to their website.

After you have done this, go on to their website and then look at their website for academic activities and extracurriculars as well. It’s a matching game where you’ll have to see what fits into your interests and note them down. It’s best to pick 3-5 programs that they offer and try to approach the one that you would most like to take up during your time there. Here, there are two approaches you can follow. While one focuses on different ideas which shows the admissions committee that you are interested in multiple things or you can take on ideas and expand them elaborately.

For example, if you have an international interest, you can say that you would like to join their Living Learning community and specify that you like learning languages, debating, etc. In one sentence, you have managed to show you have researched them well. Remember, you have only 100 words which would be around 4-5 sentences, so make the best use of them.

2. Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:

A. The Hawaiian word mo'olelo is often translated as "story" but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself.

This prompt refers to your personal background and how it has shaped you over time. What about your culture or history or experiences that have had a hard-hitting impact on your personality? How has your background shaped you or your determination to succeed in college? These are a few examples of the direction in which the essay could go. It can also be an extension of your Common App essay but it's best to write about something other than what has already been mentioned in your essay. Be true to yourself.

B. What excites you?

This prompt could literally be about anything under the sun. Think about your extracurricular curiosity or intellectual curiosity or something that sparks your interest. This is a show not a prompt and it's best to stick to something you are passionate about and have a few experiences to prove that passion.

C. In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba, Class of 2014, reflects on constructing a windmill from recycled materials to power the electrical appliances in his family's Malawian house: "If you want to make it, all you have to do is try." What drives you to create and what do you hope to make or have you already made?

This essay can be a good way to show another side of yourself to the admissions committee. You do not have to say that you’d like to be the next President but rather show them that you would like to create change through your work in the future or you already have. For example, what motivates you to do community service? What have you learned from community service and how do you plan on giving back to the community in the future? These are points that could be touched upon. Please remember that it is a reflection of something you will be most likely doing. So it's best to stick to something you know much about.

D. Curiosity is a guiding element of Toni Morrison's talent as a writer. "I feel totally curious and alive and in control. And almost...magnificent, when I write," she says. Celebrate your curiosity.

Celebrate your curiosity? What on earth could that be? Well, basically you need to show them that you have the ability to be curious about the things that you do or come across. Most students tend to use a flairy language here which can come off as pretentious so write this in simple words that show them you’re just somebody who has something driving them and is willing to speak up about it.

E. "Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away," observed Frida Kahlo. Apply Kahlo's perspective to your own life.

This is perfect for the students especially those who are applying for this year or the next. The pandemic has turned everybody’s lives upside down and if there is something that you have learned from this experience, this is the best place to write about it. Don’t focus on what has happened because your Common App and Coalition App already address these questions. Focus on what you learned about life and how your perspective has changed. Are you more hopeful, optimistic, realistic? Well, it goes without saying that this is not limited to your experiences during the pandemic. Has there been a hard-hitting situation in your life previously? Are there challenges you have faced that changed things for you? Pen it down.

F. In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, "The world's troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix." Which of the world's "troubles" inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?

Is there a social issue you are extremely concerned about or passionate about? If you have any activities pertaining to this issue, feel free to mention them as it would relate well with the rest of your application. It’s better to focus on programs Dartmouth already has that will help you achieve your goals in the future in terms of social issues. You need to convince them that they have the right programs for you to further your passion and work that you have been or will be doing.


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