Thursday, June 14, 2012

The (D) Plan

I remembered hearing a distant alarm ringing in my ears. Being half awake, I didn't remember that the alarm was mine. Instead, I simply denied the fact that it might have been mine, and hoped that the supposed owner would shut it off. The alarm lasted from 5:45 AM to 6:00 AM for a total of fifteen minutes. How I was able to sleep through that, I have no idea. I didn't sleep until 3:00 AM last night due to our complimentary hotel Wifi. The internet connection on our laptops was exceedingly slow, and mine was even not working half the time. As a result, I had to steal Wifi from the local Starbucks shop to be able to upload all my pictures, and finish my blog. This process took away countless hours from my beauty sleep. I really wish that there were more hours in the day for some shut-eye.

Even after waking up, my body was not functioning to its full capacity. My arms were drooped down and my legs felt like Jell-O, making me walk similar to a sloth. My brain was half dead as I dragged myself across the room to get to the closet. The shower did tend to help wake me up however. Room 501 left their suite around 6:30 AM and took three minutes to get down to the lobby. Our three minute tardiness didn't matter much though, considering how we had to wait half an hour for our Suburban to arrive to the doors of Hotel Providence.

Our amazing driver cruising down the interstate
The trip to Dartmouth was extremely long. Traffic was really bad around the Boston area. It was a much clearer path on the freeway after we passed Boston, however. Because we left early, we couldn't really get breakfast. So instead, we took a stop at McDonalds to get some breakfast on the go. We arrived at Dartmouth around 10:45 AM and were just in time for the informational session.

I think most of the session was more dedicated to the Dartmouth Plan (or D-Plan). The D-Plan is basically the schedule for your 4 years in Dartmouth. This plan exemplifies the flexibility you get at Dartmouth. It is basically how you want to arrange your learning experience (residential education, education abroad, and your breaks) based on the seasonal quarters at Dartmouth. With the D-Plan, you make your own choice in deciding when you want to learn and when you want to rest. In addition, Dartmouth also has an 8 to 1 teacher-student ratio. According to the admissions officer who gave the session, Dartmouth favors teacher recommendations and personal statements over your GPA and SAT/ACT scores. You are also encouraged to take more rigorous courses such as APs or Honors. Dartmouth encourages you to declare a major by the spring quarter of your sophomore year.

Left: Baker Library Bell Tower; Right: Baker Hall; Middle: Awkward guy 
Our tour was given by one of the rising seniors from Dartmouth (didn't really get her name). She started off by telling us about some of the events that take place in Dartmouth such as the Winter Festival and the Bonfire Event. She then gave us a tour inside one of the fancy Dartmouth libraries where we started discussing academics. We were told how Dartmouth is a liberal arts college, how they ranked one in undergraduate education for two years, and also how they have faculty advisors, undergraduate advisors, major advisors, and thesis advisors. Similar to Yale, Dartmouth also has a two week shopping period. We finished up the tour by looking at the residence halls and cafeterias.

Group photo in front of Baker Bell Tower

Walking around downtown
We were expected to be at the Canoe Club restaurant at 1:30 PM, but the tour ended a half hour early. So instead, we went in some of the pharmacies and stores around there to look for some supplies we needed. I really wanted to buy some hair spray or hair gel, but they were much too large for a mere three weeks. We also stopped by the optometrist office to get my reading glasses and sunglasses tightened. We decided to go into the restaurant at 1:20 PM so we could get a head start at selecting our lunch.

Left: Jessica Womack; Right: Adriana Flores
The admission officers and students who are interning as admissions officers came exactly at 1:30 PM. Ying-An, Taylor, and I sat with Adriana Flores (a rising senior), Jessica Womack (a rising junior), and Justine Modica (a Dartmouth admissions officer who graduated in '09). We settled in and gave our quick exchange of our introductions. Ying-An told us how he came from El Cerrito and his interest in DNA Biotechnology and other related fields. Taylor gave us an overview of what Middle College is, and how she wants to major in international relations. I told everyone how I attend Pinole Valley and my interests in economics, architecture, and green engineering. I really don't think that many of the Dartmouth people from our table really know about our schools, but it was still nice being able to get that information out. We had some discussions about the admissions process as part of our lunch conversation. As part of the application, a student has a supplementary recommendation which can be written by one of your best friends. The point of it, Justine said, is to see the outside and social perspective of you rather than all your academics. We also got to talk about their experiences there and why they chose Dartmouth. Adriana Flores was one of the people who talked to us about these topics.

My ice cream dessert with a cookie on top
Adriana came from El Salvador and attended high school at Los Angeles without knowing English, but still came up as top dog at her school. She applied for 25 colleges her senior year, getting accepted to 21 colleges, put in the waiting list for 2, and only getting rejected by 2. Her reason for choosing Dartmouth was because she wanted a relatively smaller college. She is currently majoring in Spanish and minoring in Italian. Adriana also told us about the opportunities to study abroad. For example, she went to Spain and Rome as a choice for studying Spanish.

After the lunch, we took a quick stop to the infamous Morano Gelato store. The car ride from Dartmouth back to Providence alone took 5 hours. Most of us couldn’t help closing their eyes and drifting off to dream world. I admit that I also took some short naps. We did, however, make a few stops to stretch our legs and buy some drinks. The GPS kept shooting out directions really late, so we had to occasionally reroute our direction. We got back to the hotel around 8:00 PM and immediately went to our rooms to lie down from the whole trip. Instead of going out for a fancy dinner tonight, we ordered pizza instead and reassembled our blogging group.

Our end of the day blogging group with pizza
I would consider Dartmouth as one of the colleges that I’d want to apply to. I really loved the campus life (probably because there were actually students to occupy the campus today) and all the good programs and opportunities that are offered there. I must say that the lunch with the Dartmouth officers really changed my mind about Dartmouth. Something else I find really special about Dartmouth is the  idea of supplementary essays from a close friend. I really think that this can be more helpful when colleges look at a student from outside school grounds and just knowing them as a person. Finally, I really liked the idea of how Dartmouth looks more into your personal statement and doesn’t solely look at test scores. Sometimes, one person might not be the best test taker, but that doesn’t mean that don’t have the potential these prestigious colleges. I’m very glad that we’ll finally be able to get some real sleep tonight after having needed to wake up at 6:00 AM for the past two days and blogging till late midnight. Moreover, I’m so excited to be able to tour M.I.T. tomorrow for my first time.

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