What is Dartmouth College like? Describe it.

Dartmouth is nestled within the small but lively town of Hanover. Hanover has everything you would comfortably need throughout your college life, all within walking distance. The town is fairly upscale too, as you’ll find strolling down Main Street or sampling the ethnically diverse selection of restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, one thing Dartmouth and its students are really big on is food. Some people claim that you can get by a whole term on just the free food that’s given out all the time. But that’s for you to verify.

One of the main things that drew me to Dartmouth is the great sense of community that everyone – current students and alumni – raves about all the time. After experiencing my first term at Dartmouth, I can heartily confirm it. From my first ever week-long camping trip with five other recently-admitted freshmen to typical dorm life, “family” is the word to describe the close-knit atmosphere that pervades Dartmouth. And like true brothers and sisters, the lengths that upperclassmen go to welcome freshmen to Dartmouth are unbelievable. When the going gets rough around midterms and finals, or whenever I’m feeling down, my peers are always there in support.

On the surface, of course, you can expect the things that come from being in a great school. Top notch professors who make lots of time outside of class for individual students, a beautiful well-kept campus, and tons of student organizations.

What is most misunderstood about Dartmouth?

By far, it’s the drinking scene. Many deduce that, being an isolated college, Dartmouth breeds wild alcoholics and underage drinkers. While it’s true that Dartmouth is relatively isolated next to comparable schools on the East Coast (we call it the “Dartmouth bubble”), it doesn’t equate to an all-consuming Greek life. Many will choose to drink, and many others will not. It’s a completely personal choice, and nothing is ever coerced. As an abstainer with friends who drink and who don’t, I’ve had absolutely no trouble fitting in or finding things to do with others.

What kinds of students do you think colleges are looking for, and why?

Colleges look for students who are self-motivated in their education, and who can reasonably contribute to the academic and social atmosphere on campus. Promising students are passionate and smart. Smartness comes from how well you can allocate your time between schoolwork and personal activities, and passion comes from the things you do.

Let’s be real – like job employers, colleges handpick students with themselves in mind. It wouldn’t be beneficial to them to accept a student who has an excellent track record but doesn’t seem to hold anything inside that’ll potentially improve the college or its students.

Colleges might ask this: Will this student, judging by his/her pre-college accomplishments, contribute to the college in one way or another? Maybe she’ll boost the college’s reputation with her national fame. Maybe he’ll take what he’s done to change his high school and make the campus a better place for students. Maybe her know-how and experience in quantum mechanics will enliven class discussions in physics. Maybe his work and expertise in macroeconomic modeling will assist the Economics Department in their latest research. And then there’s athletic recruitment.

What has been one of the greatest challenges in college, and what do you think high school students can do to best prepare themselves?

It’s been said countless times, but at college, you really are on your own. College life is what you make out of it. The choices you make with your social life, academics, and personal lifestyle will directly impact your college experience and success. It’ll be your full responsibility to balance those aspects of your life in the optimal way for YOU. Of course, there’s always help in the form of your deans, academic advisors, professors, and even upperclassmen. But it’ll be up to you to effectively take advantage of all the resources and opportunities available to you. In short, be proactive.

One of the best ways to prepare is to consistently plan VERY far ahead. In college, you’ll find that deadlines for out-of-class programs happen far in advance, and midterms/papers coincide pretty frequently. Ask for syllabi from your future professors during break and between terms, so you can effectively manage your schedule around deadlines and ensure that you GET ENOUGH SLEEP.

What academic and non-academic extracurricular activities were you involved with in high school?

Much of my non-academic extracurricular time was dedicated to music. I was an avid classical musician for my entire high school career, and spent weekends commuting to San Francisco for orchestra rehearsals. My summers were dedicated to music programs at Menlo Park and Aspen, Colorado, as well as private teaching. I also found time to volunteer weekly at a therapeutic horse-riding program.

My main academic extracurricular activity involved serving as news editor of my high school newspaper.

If you were to start high school all over again, what would you do differently?

In all honesty, I wish I had enjoyed my high school’s offerings a lot more. For one, I would have eased up just a bit on my course load and joined a business club. Being a part of student organizations, especially large and well-established ones, is one of the best ways to meet new people and instill a strong, valuable sense of purpose in your life.

I also wish I went to the library more often. I started realizing a bit late the magic libraries can do to your productivity.

What advice would you give high school students to help them prepare for college?

Find a passion. Stick with it. Befriend your teachers. Invest your time in a club. Have confidence, and keep on doing the things in your life that boost it.

Don’t just bask in change. Be a part of it.

List web resources where high school students can learn more about your college. Refer to sites that are not commonly known, including recommended readings, blogs, and videos.

The main website has everything you would want to know about life, academics, and the goings-on at Dartmouth (pictures galore!):

A blog that answers uncommonly asked questions from prospective students about admissions:

For the academically conscious:

Wondering what classes you may have passed out of at Dartmouth?

All about the interview:


High School

Monta Vista High School


Dartmouth College