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How do I impress Dartmouth with my essays?

Quick Tips

Make sure your essays illustrate your personality! Everything you say should help us understand those intangibles that can't be easily reflected in a resume. Show qualities like sense of humor, passion, intellectual curiosity, self-awareness, and social-awareness. Your writing lets us get to know you and we read every word. Help us envision what you'll bring to Dartmouth.

The Common Application Essay

The Common Application is a site used by hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States, as well as many in other countries. Candidates choose one topic and respond. (250-word minimum, 650-word maximum.)

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

The Dartmouth Writing Supplement Short Essay

Within the Common Application, Dartmouth’s writing supplement requires that applicants write a brief response to one of the following supplemental essay prompts. Candidates choose one topic and respond. (A paragraph to a page in length is ideal.) Here are the short essay questions for applicants wanting to enroll in the fall of 2016.

  • Every name tells a story: Tell us about your name—any name: first, middle, last, nickname—and its origin.
  • Tell us about an intellectual experience, either directly related to your schoolwork or not, that you found particularly meaningful.
  • When you meet someone for the first time, what do you want them to know about you, but generally don’t tell them?
  • Describe the influence your hero has had on your life.
  • We believe it is critical that your candidacy reflect the interests, experiences and pursuits that are most important to you.  To this end, is there anything else you would like us to know?