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Any tips for Dartmouth "Why School" essay?

JTWhiteOaksJTWhiteOaks 4 replies2 threads New Member
edited August 17 in Dartmouth College
I am a rising senior in White Oaks SS, Canada, and working on college essays, really struggle on 100 words why school essay, any tips please! thank you
edited August 17
11 replies
Post edited by skieurope on
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Replies to: Any tips for Dartmouth "Why School" essay?

  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 721 replies3 threads Member
    Disclaimer: I'm an incoming First-Year at Brown who did not apply to Dartmouth, but my ADVICE should still apply here.

    Brown (and most US colleges requiring essays,) ask some form of this question, usually coupled with an explanation of why you're interested in the major you indicated on your application. As Dartmouth combines both questions into one essay like Brown did, I would recommend that you devote about 1/2 your essay to why you're interested in the major you're applying for and how you've explored the field in high school (through coursework, extracurricular activities etc) before utilizing the remaining 1/2 to explain why Dartmouth in particular in the best fit for you: what are the resources, courses, curricular ideologies that are present at Dartmouth in your field that will help you achieve your career goals? Essentially, the Admissions Office is trying to assess both your suitability for Dartmouth's curriculum (which provides a lot of freedom via the D-Plan) and your interest in the school through the details that you provide in your essay. Given that Dartmouth only provides you with 100 words, Admissions expects you to be succinct: make sure to revise your essay thoroughly, only providing necessary explanations (for example, Dartmouth knows about your role in a specific activity from your extracurricular list, so rather than detailing your job duties all over again in your essay, simply state that the fields you explored during your role (but do define what your role was, like "as a part of the Science club.....")

    Hope this helps! Good luck with admissions!
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 492 replies10 threads Member
    I respectfully disagree with the previous post. The “Why X” essay is NOT for you to regurgitate what makes their school great. They already know. They want you to show them what you can bring to the table that they are looking for and how what you have to offer fits their goals. For example, a certain school is all about community (how they fit into the community they are located in, how they look for students to become a part of the community, volunteering to make the community better, etc) and a successful “why” essay for that school is what you are looking forward to doing to be part of the school community and benefit the community at large.

    You need to explore their website looking for clues about what type of person they are looking for and then show them how you fit the bill.
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 721 replies3 threads Member
    edited August 17
    @helpingmom40 Reading my earlier post, I realize that yes, my advice could be construed that way. However, the Admissions Office is trying to judge your suitability for the school, and part of that is explaining how you will take advantage of the campus' resources (is there a specific course you're interested in, a professor whose research is similar to that you've been involved with, an organization on campus that you want to be part of) that usually fits with your explanation of how you've taken advantage of the resources available at your own high school. I probably should have framed it instead as "Show, don't just tell, through your essays that you've taken advantage of what's available to you in your community, and show how Dartmouth (or any other college,) specifically fits your interests and passions and how you'll become involved on-campus in research, theater etc. while also making progress towards your intended goals." :smile:

    I agree and disagree with the last line of your post, and here's why: Dartmouth, and other similar schools, get students across the world: each uniquely positioned at the start of college with different backgrounds and extracurricular activities done and interests explored, all connected by their love for the D-Plan, the aspect of Dartmouth's curriculum that sets it apart from the rest (as Brown is by the Open Curriculum, Columbia by its Core etc.) As you state in your post, reading the Admissions website is definitely helpful, but also keep in mind that schools like Dartmouth want to see a well-rounded CLASS, not a well-rounded person, that takes advantage of life at Dartmouth in different ways to achieve their own goals and interests. If the name of a college in your essay could be switched out for another, this means that your essay isn't specific (not in details, but fit-wise) enough: it needs to be tailored specifically to Dartmouth such that the Admissions Committee is certain that, even though you could achieve your goals somewhere else (which is a fact of life, given the low acceptance rate,) Dartmouth is the BEST place for you to grow as a person for the next four years and become a graduate that Dartmouth will be proud of.

    Also, @JTWhiteOaks , keep in mind that Dartmouth is need-aware for international students (the only Early Decision-offering Ivy that I know of that is need-blind for Canadian citizens is Penn, and I believe Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are need-blind for all international students) so the school does take into account the level of financial assistance you require if admitted. This isn't to dissuade you, or any other international student requiring financial aid, but your application has to be even stronger than that of an international applicant w/a similar profile who doesn't require financial aid: showing Dartmouth that while they could admit the other student without giving them any aid, you will be the better choice for Dartmouth as a student and an alumni. However, it is virtually impossible to receive financial aid in future years if you do not apply as an undergraduate (there might be exceptions, research the Dartmouth financial aid website,) so DEFINITELY apply if you and your family require aid in-order to attend.

    DISCLAIMER: I am not involved with undergraduate admissions in any way, nor do I know to what extent financial aid necessity is considered for international admissions. However, the admissions website does state that it IS a factor that's considered.

    Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!
    edited August 17
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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    It is important is that you write in a clear and concise manner.

    There is no one correct approach. You can be creative if you wish.

    View this as a chance to demonstrate your communication skills and intelligence. You could do this while highlighting specific courses or activities at Dartmouth College that are of interest to you or in any manner that you can communicate in a clear and concise fashion in 100 words.

    My best guess is that Dartmouth admissions is not really seeking a particular type of person or a particular fit.

    The real key to this exercise

    (Sorry. Couldn't finish as I used up my 100 word limit.)
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 721 replies3 threads Member
    I definitely agree with @Publisher 's words of wisdom. At the end of the day, Dartmouth knows you only have 100 words in which to detail your fit for the school, and this is on-purpose, because Admissions doesn't want you to waste words on superfluous detail. Make sure you are succinct in your response, and most of all, that it truly reflects you and your application: don't try to fit the profile of an "ideal candidate," because there isn't one for schools like Dartmouth, only students who are passionate about a subject (s) and about a school. :smile:
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  • JTWhiteOaksJTWhiteOaks 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Thank you so much, for so many great and useful tips!
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  • Gogreen19Gogreen19 96 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @JTWhiteOaks as a Dartmouth college student and a part-time paid college counselor, I think I'm qualified to answer this question.

    As I've told my clients, the Why Dartmouth essay is as short as it is so that you get to the point quickly. They want to see why Dartmouth specifically draws you, and what you have to bring to the community. Those are the two sections you'll want to keep in mind, and what they'll want to see

    Obviously there's no one thing to say that'll get you in, but you'll want to talk about Dartmouth specific things that attract you and emphasize what your unique perspective can bring to the community. Be as specific to yourself and the combination of things and experiences that make you who you are as possible.
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  • JTWhiteOaksJTWhiteOaks 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Thank you so much for your advice, Gogreen19! Sorry for the late reply.
    I am going to ED Dartmouth, and can you give me any advice how to prepare interview? Thank you!
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35868 replies404 threads Senior Member
    For the record, I agree with @helpingmom40 . Imo, there are some misconceptions present in this thread.


    Anyone can look up a prof name or course in a catalog. Lots of kids apply to lots of colleges, hoping for the one with the best rep to admit them. Some even admit it's the reputation for the "best" this or that. But adcoms are looking for your sense of match and fit, etc, a more delicate and authentic slice. You need to know the school to do this.

    You need to be genuine in your answer. Why DO you want Dartmouth? And imo, YOU have to know this before deciding to appply.

    "Passion" doesn't play here. You can use humor, a personal experience, etc, but they want to see you understand them. Not just what YOU want.

    And I don't understand why so many insist the top colleges don't want well rounded individuals. Do the digging helpingmom40 (and I) advocate and you'll find they do.
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  • RedHikerRedHiker 14 replies3 threads Junior Member
    When I was applying a couple years ago I went to an admissions info session. The admissions officer said the "Why Dartmouth" small essay is in large part to see who actually knows what Dartmouth is and who's quickly shotgunning schools. He joked that the previous year someone wrote "I can't wait to experience the bright lights of Hanover" and then promptly told us that the brightest light in small town Hanover is the moon. Honesly show what draws you to specifically Dartmouth because of your personality/interests, it demonstrates you're invested in the school and lets the AdCom learn a little more about you and what type of student you'd be here.

    Good luck!
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  • Gogreen19Gogreen19 96 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @JTWhiteOaks just be genuine! That's all they really want to see. Don't stiffen up for them (though dressing well is probably a good idea). They want to see your passion, so don't hold yourself back. Tell them why Dartmouth and your field(s) of interest excite you, and let yourself get excited as you do so, such that it carries in your voice.

    My friends who tried be restrained in their interviews for schools like Penn and Stanford didn't end up getting in. Meanwhile I and those of my friends who didn't do that all got into some of our top choices (Dartmouth, Stanford, Amherst, NYU).

    When I got on campus, this was confirmed by conversations I've had with peers and admissions officers.

    Be genuine, speak with passion, and be as specific to yourself and your experiences as possible, as well as Dartmouth, and you'll be fine.

    My interviewer loved me for doing this and she told me so. She even went so far as to say she was about to write me a glowing recommendation. We kept in touch for months even after I was accepted.



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