Dartmouth is a private college established in 1769. It is a member of the Ivy League and a ninth-oldest higher education institution in the United States. It was initially founded to train ministers, but being gradually secularized, it has risen to glory at the turn of the twentieth century and now boasts its liberal arts curriculum and many interdisciplinary programs.
Dartmouth is a highly selective college, with admission rates oscillating between 7 and 9 percent. It is understandable since it’s the smallest one among Ivy League colleges with only 6,600 students enrolled each year. All the more impressive is the number of prominent alumni that includes the members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, governors, Cabinet secretaries, and Supreme Court justices.
However, the selectiveness should not discourage you, since Dartmouth is very diverse and inclusive, like a meadow or a patchwork quilt. This diversity is what defines it. Everyone is equally unique and valuable as a part of the colorful whole. Moreover, Dartmouth is looking for talent and passion to build a better society regardless of the student’s financial circumstances. It is one of few need-blind schools and it guarantees to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need of every student.
What Are Dartmouth Admission Requirements?
Dartmouth application process reflects this open and egalitarian approach being centered around the idea that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. At Dartmouth, they look at applications holistically seeking a unique combination of qualities, experiences, and points of view in every student they admit.
Everyone who wants to apply should do so through the Common App. First-generation students or college hopefuls from low-income families can also benefit from the Questbridge application.
Here is what first-year students should submit to apply:
- Application Fee or Fee Waiver
- Common App
- Dartmouth writing supplement
- Secondary School Report with Transcript
- School Profile and Counselor Evaluation
- Two Teacher Evaluations
- SAT or ACT scores
At Dartmouth, they are very flexible with the SAT and ACT scores, accepting the highest score among all your attempts, if you have made several. However, they stress that taking opportunities that high school presents is more beneficial for you than taking standardized tests, so they discourage excessive testing. Moreover, for the class of 2025, Dartmouth have made the scores optional – just as many other colleges have done responding to the pandemic and restrictions it inflicted.
Additionally, international students for whom English is not the first language should submit any of the following: TOEFL, IELTS, the Duolingo English Test, or Cambridge C1/C2.
Dartmouth also strongly suggests adding a peer recommendation on top of standard recommendation letters. This is a letter explaining why you are a good fit for Dartmouth and written by your classmate, teammate, pal from a summer camp, brother, sister, cousin, co-worker, lab partner – anyone, who can be described as your peer.
There is also an optional alumni interview, where an applicant is interviewed either in person or online by a Dartmouth alumnus or alumna as opposed to an admission committee. You don’t have to schedule it – instead, you will be contacted via an email you provide in your application. If you are not interviewed it is not a disadvantage, so don’t worry about it.
What Do They Look for in “Why Dartmouth” Essays?
Unlike many other selective colleges, Dartmouth asks for only two supplemental essays. One falls into the “Why Dartmouth” category, another one you should choose among six suggested prompts. That is, of course, on top of your Common App essay.
So, how should you approach probably the most crucial essay of them all that explains why Dartmouth particularly appeals to you?
The first thing to remember is that you will have only 100 words to explain your interest, so think every single one of them through. Here are some recommendations, but it is impossible to follow all of them. Choose ones that resonate with you the most:
- Dartmouth places big value on its community, so you should focus on your fit in it while writing your response. Of course, to do that, you will have to do your research.
- Demonstrate that you apply not because Dartmouth is prestigious but because you fell in love with it: mentioned specific programs, the environment, events, or extracurricular activities – anything that you find genuinely exciting. Be sincere.
- All the Ivy League colleges offer stellar education, so unless it’s super-relevant to you, you don’t have to address this in your “Why Dartmouth” take. How about highlighting what is it about Dartmouth that makes it feel like home for you?
- Try focusing on what Dartmouth will enable you to do, what issue you want to tackle, and how being admitted will further you on the path to that goal. Remember, one of Dartmouth’s philosophy staples is “The world’s troubles are your troubles… and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human being cannot fix”.
- Use affirmative language and drop the “ifs”. Imagine you have been accepted. Imagine you are on campus – tell how it feels.
A good “Why Dartmouth” essay example will be free of these mistakes:
- Focusing on things the school is famous for, like traditions, location, ranking. Go for something more personal, intimate than that.
- Confusing Dartmouth with some other school and getting wrong names, team colors, places on campus, prominent figures. You cannot afford to be slapdash – do your homework.
- Limiting your research to the official website and trying to imitate the language there.
How to Select Among Dartmouth Application Essays Prompts?
Another essay you will have to write is a probe of your intellectual curiosity. It is a 250-300 word response to one of the six suggested prompts, which is by far more flexible than most of the schools offer.
All of the supplement essay prompts that Dartmouth offers follow one pattern year after year: a relevant quote by a prominent figure or a book character + a personal question, like “What brings you joy?”, “What excites you?”, “Celebrate your intellectual curiosity”, “Introduce yourself with a story”, etc. They are open to wide interpretations and aim to elicit an honest answer that is unique to you.
Don’t worry if none of those suggested for you in your year of application seems like a perfect fit. Any topic can be compelling if you frame it the right way.
You can describe anything – an ordinary event that can happen to anyone. The key is to show how it impacted you and what thoughts it sparked inside your mind. Show how you perceive the world, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, open, and emotional. If you cry or laugh when you write or reread your essay – it’s a good sign.
Also, if you feel that essays you have written don’t paint your full portrait, you can always put clarifications into the “Additional Information” section. Neglecting it is forfeiting another chance of showing your personality. Some people put there information about their hobbies or passions, others mention their character traits, like a sense of humor. You can use it to explain irregularities in your transcript or to say anything that you feel would be missing from your application otherwise.
What are Some Dartmouth Supplement Examples?
You can look up some of the examples from accepted students on social media – but only to put your mind at ease because you will find nothing extraordinary in them – just honesty and genuine feelings towards the school they chose. Don’t mimic them, don’t overthink it – be yourself.
What is it about Dartmouth Essays That Worked?
In a word, they are sincere. If you come from a big city, explain why you were attracted to a school in a rural area. If the place just felt right during the campus visit – say so. If Dartmouth values are what vibes with you – tell why. Dartmouth is a small school, so however diverse it is, there are no random people there.
Where Can I Find the Current Dartmouth Essay Prompts?
Dartmouth website has a plethora of information for the students considering the evergreen college as their Alma Mater. They always have an updated version of the current prompts here: https://admissions.dartmouth.edu/glossary-term/writing-supplement
Should I Customize the Common App Essay to Complement Dartmouth college essays?
If you have written your Common App personal statement the right way, you won’t have to customize it for Dartmouth. The school values diversity and uniqueness, while the general advice for the Common App essay is that it should be “you” through and through. It should read as if no other student could write it. Should you lose it somewhere around your school, people who know you should be able to recognize you from the essay without your name on it. If your Common App essay is like that, it will be perfect for Dartmouth.
Will Campus Visit Improve My Chances of Admission?
Yes and no. Dartmouth claims that application is all you need to demonstrate earnest interests and that they don’t keep track of visits, college fairs, emails, calls, etc. However, it will do you good to learn more about Dartmouth and reflect upon it, so you can better describe how you will benefit from and contribute to your college community in your “Why Dartmouth” essay required for the application.