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dartmouth campus

As I write this blog post on Halloween day, 2021, I'm reflecting upon all the ways that I've grown and changed over the course of this fall term. One year ago today, I submitted my early decision application for Dartmouth. Applying early can lead to tons of questions and doubts; as someone who wasn't able to even visit Dartmouth's campus prior to move-in day, I was truly taking a leap of faith by submitting my application. So, did I make the right choice? In this post, I want to talk about the reasons my 17-year old self chose Dartmouth, and whether or not my 18-year old self is happy with the decision.

My 'Why Dartmouth' essay opened with the phrase "Dartmouth is a launchpad for future diplomats". In an academic sense, Dartmouth is living up to my expectations. Through the effective use of the Rassias method, I've been able to learn a surprising amount of Arabic in only 7 weeks. Furthermore, the substantial presence of the Dickey Center on campus has allowed me to get involved in programs like Great Issues Scholars and the World Outlook Journal, where I've been able to expose myself to today's most pressing international issues. My single greatest reason for choosing Dartmouth was the array of study abroad opportunities available for students; after doing lots of research, I'm incredibly excited to spend my sophomore year in places like Morocco, Israel, and Egypt. 

Dartmouth's campus is also obviously enticing to prospective students; it was to me, at least. Even without being able to visit campus physically, an abundance of resources exist online that give an accurate idea of what it feels like to walk around campus. I can definitely say that I have no complaints about my environment, especially during this beautiful fall term. Being able to go outside and be surrounded by trees and foliage is a blessing - furthermore, a look at the sky from any location on campus gives a view of cotton candy clouds lining the Appalachian ridges. If you look at pictures of Dartmouth online and think it's beautiful, you're right: it is.

Dartmouth baker
Here's my view of Baker before I head to class!

However, something I've realized after 3 months on campus is that while Dartmouth is an awesome place, it isn't a perfect, mystical Narnia. The college process often leads to students idealizing the college experience; I know for myself, I saw college as the 'end goal' and dedicated copious amounts of energy to my applications. Dartmouth is a great place to be, but I've now realized that it isn't anywhere close to being an 'end goal'. If you're stressed about the application process, realize that college is a tool to propel your life forward; any school, including Dartmouth, will be able to do this.

To my 17-year old self: congratulations. You made a great choice choosing Dartmouth, and I'll reap the benefits of that decision for the next few years. To any prospective applicants: relax. As application deadlines approach, stop stressing over essays and SAT scores and instead focus on what you truly want out of life.


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