Thursday, July 5, 2012

The D Day

Walking to the info session
Most of today was spent in New Hampshire. We headed out to Hanover for the Dartmouth tour. After a couple of hours of sitting in the car, we finally reached Dartmouth. Unlike the Wellesley tour, we began with the information session and then went with the actual tour. John, an Admissions Officer started the session by saying that Dartmouth has about 4,200 undergrads and about 1,700 graduates. He really emphasized how Dartmouth is the number 1 in undergraduate teaching and even talked about how they really reach into the pool of undergraduates to utilize their skills within the campus. For example, Dartmouth gives their undergrads access to really expensive materials or equipment for research. It is the only college who allows their undergrads to do research. Dartmouth has what is called the Dartmouth plan, or the “D” plan. They have a full quarter system, which has 10 week long terms. This allows undergraduates to take more classes and also take any one term off during the year, except for sophomores, who can’t take their summer off. They are required to have what is called a sophomore summer. The D plan really allows students to have a flexible schedule. I think that this is a really interesting concept because it allows students to take full advantage of Dartmouth’s many opportunities. For example, Dartmouth is involved in a lot of foreign studies and offers students many chances to study abroad. Athletes can take any term of the year to go abroad to for foreign studies. This means that they can still go abroad without it affecting their sports season.

Dartmouth’s application process caught my attention. Like most colleges, they use the common app followed by two supplement apps. The more important supplement app would be the peer recommendation. What this really means is that instead of having a teacher write you a recommendation letter, your best friend, or someone you know in a more personal level will actually write it for you. This gave Dartmouth a more intimate feel because it seems like they really care about you as a person instead of just you as a student. It made me wonder what my best friend would say about me if I ever apply to Dartmouth…. Anyway, the peer recommendation is really unique to Dartmouth. It is something that Wellesley doesn’t have. Like Wellesley though, Dartmouth is need blind when selecting students. They also don’t offer merit scholarships, but they do stand to meet 100% of the student’s demonstrative needs.
Micheal was the best tour guide!
Most of us really enjoyed the tour. I’d say that this was because we had really wonderful tour guide, a rising junior named Michael. He really seems like he loved Dartmouth, but I wouldn’t even doubt that because the place IS beautiful. It gave off a classic college feel, especially when we reached the fraternity and sorority houses. He talked mostly about student life at Dartmouth, from traveling across the globe to living in dorms to eating in the dining halls. I think he really opened Dartmouth up and made it more welcoming for outsiders. I would see why it has a strong alumni support. He also talked a lot about Dartmouth traditions such as an event called Homecoming, where the circling of a huge bonfire is held. Michael seemed to really love this event. It reminded me of how Amy, our Wellesley tour guide, talked about some of Wellesley’s traditions like flower Sunday. It seems to me that college traditions become a really big part of a student’s life. I mean, I can’t it imagine it not to be; especially when your whole school celebrates it annually.
The Berry Wall of the Berry library
Another thing I loved about Dartmouth is the fact that their extra-curricular programs really focus on leadership and creating a close knit community. John mentioned that at Dartmouth, impact is the most important part of any extracurricular activities. Many non-profit organizations like to recruit Dartmouth students, and with the D plan intact, the students themselves are more flexible with internships. During lunch, we met a couple of Dartmouth students and admissions counselors. At first, I was seated with June, a dean of admissions, Jake, a Dartmouth alum, and Caitlyn, a Dartmouth student. They all emphasized how Dartmouth students really bond with the community through programs and activities. Jake is a director of a Dartmouth program called SEAD. I’m not very sure of what SEAD really is because before I could ask questions, he had to leave for business reasons. However, I do know that it is a Dartmouth outreach program targeted for underprivileged kids. That’s interesting to me because I’ve always wanted to start an outreach program for children in my community.
One of the freshman dormitory
For the second half of lunch, Ms. Kaplan suggested that I move over to the next table to have a chance to mingle with our other guests. I got the chance to talk to Isabelle, a Dartmouth admission officer, and Adrianna, a rising senior in Dartmouth. I loved their company. They were both so ecstatic and easy to be around.  Adrianna talked a whole lot about her experience as a Dartmouth student. I found out that she is also from the West Coast, Los Angeles to be exact. Like Michael, she really treasures her time in Dartmouth. She says that it became almost like her real home, and with the staff serving as her family, she feels like she belongs there. She even said that when she took a term to study in Italy, she missed Dartmouth more than she missed her hometown!
I will always remember Adrianna saying something along the lines of “if I could have another year in Dartmouth, I would take that any day.” I hope to one day be able to say that about the college that I’m attending.

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