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Dartmouth is an Ivy League research university in Hanover, New Hampshire. It has an acceptance rate of around 9%, making it one of the most prestigious and selective schools in the United States. One way in which applicants get to showcase their personality and separate themselves from the other applicants which they are competing against is through the Dartmouth Supplementary Essays. The essay prompts serve to offer a more holistic view of each applicant to admission officers, so as to allow them to make a more informed decision on whether to admit an applicant to the school. This blog serves as a guide as to how one may approach the Dartmouth Supplementary Essays.
Dartmouth requires short responses to three prompts. Everyone must answer the first and second prompts and then choose one of the five additional prompts to answer. Your response to the first prompt must be fewer than 100 words. The response for the second and third prompt must be 250-300 words.
Dartmouth celebrates the ways in which its profound sense of place informs its profound sense of purpose. As you seek admission to Dartmouth's Class of 2027, what aspects of the College's academic program, community, or campus environment attract your interest? In short, Why Dartmouth? Please respond in 100 words or fewer.
"Be yourself," Oscar Wilde advised. "Everyone else is taken." Introduce yourself in 200-250 words.
Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 200-250 words:
This essay prompt is one of the most common supplementary essay prompts for most schools, essentially teasing out the motivations and reasons why students are applying to this particular school (i.e., Why Dartmouth).
Before answering this question, you should have researched what academic programs, extra-curriculars, and various opportunities that Dartmouth offers. You should be able to articulate clear reasons as to why you have chosen Dartmouth, backed with adequate research.
Don’t offer a generic reason that can be “copied-paste” to any “Why (this school)” question. Specifically, you should focus on how you would spend your time at Dartmouth and how the various opportunities at Dartmouth can support your growth and ambitions.
Through your answer, it is also essential to demonstrate your enthusiasm and show how you would contribute to the student community.
The prompt is short, and it’s tempting to list everything about Dartmouth that appeals to you. Instead, focus on the one or two aspects of the school that drew you to apply in the first place. Maybe you love their liberal arts philosophy or the unique Dartmouth Plan for undergraduate study. Whatever it is, stay specific. Do your research and think about how you see the next four years. Also, think about how you prepared for college and the passions you hope to continue pursuing in college. Admissions officers read thousands of essays. Don’t write a generic essay you can use for any university! Invest time in answering the prompt specifically for the Dartmouth application. It will show in your vocabulary, the tone of your prose, and the flow of your sentences.
Honesty is critical. If Dartmouth’s location or beautiful forest setting is a genuine trait you love, include it! Essay readers want to see the person behind the numbers. Will you be that student skateboarding down the sidewalk on your way to the Hopkins Center? Or are you the person laughing at dinner with your new friends from Stats class? Use your imagination and build the story for them.
You won’t be able to encompass all you know or love about Dartmouth in only 100 words. Admissions officers know this. It’s more about how well you express yourself—through humor, sincerity, or persuasion—than showing off your knowledge.
For background information, Oscar Wilde was an Irish poet in the 19th century. Aside from his literary talent, Oscar Wilde is best known for his wit, flamboyance, and homosexuality. He has strived to “be (himself)” despite being in a very restrictive social setting. In the spirit of individuality, this question hopes to tease out what makes an applicant different from others. Most applicants who applied to Dartmouth would probably have stellar grades and may look very similar quantitatively on paper.
To answer this question, you should consider your hopes and dreams, passions and ambitions, hobbies, ideologies about life, and even your favorite qualities that separate you from other applicants. Ideally, it is best to weave a narrative in answering this question by showcasing your background, then linking it to your motivations, and showing how that shaped your worldview, thus contributing to a particular hope or dream in the future. Of course, given that this question is about individualities, do try to avoid cliches (e.g., struggling immigrants trying to fit in the American context, etc.)
The variety in these prompts means you can build your responses in several ways. But first, here’s some general advice to keep in mind.
Pay attention to the length. Avoid traditional paragraphs because 250-300 are not many words. Thematically, these prompts all ask you to step away from “college talk” and move into your imagination. These prompts pull the emotional strings. Dartmouth asks you to do some self-introspection and think about inspiring personal experiences or world events.
The essay isn’t the place to bring up the detailed points of a World History lecture but consider how what you’ve explored in your life contributes to the person you are today. You won’t be able to write the next Great American Novel, so don’t worry about not saying everything you want and thinking more about your prose. And, of course, proofread.
For background information, Dolores Huerta is, according to the National Historical Museum, “one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement”. She has dedicated herself to a life of service and purpose. This prompt aims to tease out
In approaching this question, you can brainstorm a list of worthy causes that you are passionate about – e.g., exploring science and technology to better people’s lives, exploring social impact businesses, exploring ways to help people who are socially and economically disadvantaged in society. After which, you can identify ways to contribute to the cause – e.g., volunteering, organizing events, etc. You can approach this question in a future-oriented manner or demonstrate your commitment through something you have already done. It is then essential to identify the impact of your actions to answer the question. Through your answer, you should aim to showcase to the admission officer your personality and character in an emotionally compelling manner so that they can picture you contributing and making an impact in university and beyond.
This is a chance for you to be honest and specific. Don’t write about what you “should” excite you. Reflect on what motivates you. Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What gives you energy? What does an ideal day look like for you?
This prompt pushes you to examine your creative pursuits. What do you want to put out into the world? What motivates you? What makes your creation essential or necessary? Your topic doesn’t necessarily have to be tangible. Maybe it’s a type of relationship or feeling. Be specific. Articulate what motivates you and why it matters.
The spirit of this essay prompt is very similar to Einstein’s famous quote, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” There are endless possibilities to this essay prompt; indeed, there is no “wrong” answer per se. It would be great to think about what you wonder about in your free time – it could be your hopes and dreams for the future or perhaps even more abstract and philosophical thoughts. Alternatively, it could be your family, friends, hobbies, or personal vulnerabilities. Ultimately, you want to talk about something important to you or something that fascinates you a lot.
One point to note is that you should try not to bombard your resume here under the guise that you wonder and think about the activities you have done. You would have already showcased all these in your common application. Instead, you should pick something you wonder about, think about in your free time, and show a sense of imagination, fascination, and wonderment. You can do this by making unconventional connections, which could be helpful unexpectedly. For example, Steve Jobs previously took calligraphy, and this inspired Apple’s later typography. You can also extrapolate and talk about future possibilities of what you wonder about. For example, you may be very fascinated by space travel and wonder about stretching the limits of travel to a temporal dimension (i.e., time traveling) and the related consequences of that.
This question can be interpreted to mean the challenge(s) you have faced in your life and how that has changed you. Students applying to Dartmouth come from all over the world with varied experiences. Some teenagers have encountered far more challenges than others in their schooling years, depending on the country they are from, how affluent they are, their family structure, etc. For example, one may come from a low-income family with a single parent and has had to fund his way through high school while taking care of a younger sibling. Others may have had mental illnesses or special needs disabilities while growing up. For more fortunate teenagers, a significant challenge may mean getting a low grade in their Mathematics course or not getting into the school team.
Nevertheless, challenges, pain, and growth are not relative; individuals can grow and learn lessons from their unique experiences. In illustrating a challenge you have faced, the challenge itself is meant to showcase your personality, character, and growth. Hence, the focus should be on what you have learned from the experience and how that has changed you as a person currently and in the future. It would help if you aimed to answer this in an emotionally compelling way that can show the admission officer how you have dealt with the challenge and what you have learned. After all, completing a four-year degree at Dartmouth will be filled with challenges. Dartmouth admission officers are trying to ascertain applicants with the tenacity to overcome challenges and thrive in the college environment.
Dartmouth ventures away from the traditional supplemental essay questions and dives deeper into who you are as a person. The second prompt options allow you to get creative and give the admissions committee a peek into what makes you unique. Use these creative prompts to enhance your application and show them something about yourself that you can’t show in any other part of the application.
Crimson believes every student’s story is unique. That’s why our advisors take a personal approach when helping students with their supplemental essays for college. By getting to know each student first, they can help them craft their essays based on their dreams, aspirations, goals, and any aspect of their story that’s unique.
Check out the video below to follow Sathya’s journey from Crimson to Dartmouth College!
How Crimson Student Sathya Got Into Dartmouth
Dartmouth doesn’t shy away from creative supplemental essay prompts. Choose the prompt that resonates best with you. If a powerful story comes to mind immediately after reading the prompt, that’s probably the one you should choose to answer. Remember, you don’t need to write an entire essay. There isn’t room to do that. Get to the point quickly. You don’t have any words to waste!
Dartmouth wants to get to know you better. Be authentic to your personality. If you’re unsure if the essay sounds like you, have someone close to you read it and tell you if it sounds like you. While grammar and spelling are important, showcasing the unique qualities that make you perfect for Dartmouth are equally important.
Need help with your supplemental essays? Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admission consulting company. Our expert admission strategist can help you narrow down your ideas and word choice to help you craft the perfect essay prompt response. Get your essay reviewed today!
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