lone pine
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Baker Berry Library

It´s that time of the year again. As the early decision deadline approaches, one defining question stands out amongst many: why here, and not anywhere else? 

It has been almost two years since I have submitted my early college applications, but the memory of agonizing over the seemingly impossible decision is still fresh in my mind. I did not even know who I was at that present moment. How could I decide where to spend the next four years? Countless exaggerated nightmare scenarios, practical and philosophical questions were running rampant in my head: What if I accidentally get in and don´t fit in? How can I commit this early in the process without getting a chance to compare different financial aid packages? But what if I decide later on that this is the right place for me but cannot get in from the more competitive regular decision pool? What if I end up regretting my decision? 

Such questions and anxieties were so overwhelming that I did not apply early decision to any college. Instead, I preferred to send an early non-binding application to another college to postpone committing, despite my college counselor´s insistence that Dartmouth was the right fit for me. I do not regret this decision one bit though I later realized that Dartmouth really was where I wanted to be. Sure, applying early decision could have saved me a lot of time and eased some of my stress during my senior year. However, I would have been less confident about my decision. 

How did I decide Dartmouth was the right place for me after so much uncertainty? Thanks to my chronic indecisiveness, I`ve met amazing people from the Dartmouth community who helped me explore Dartmouth beyond the surface. As I listened to their stories about their adventures in Dartmouth`s outdoors, insights about its undergraduate-focused liberal arts education, experiences with the vibrant extracurricular scene, I`ve found myself increasingly drawn to Dartmouth. It wasn`t the stories themselves that had finally convinced me to commit to Dartmouth, but it was how the students told them. What had struck me was the willingness of the Dartmouth students to answer my endless questions, their honesty in discussing Dartmouth`s challenges alongside its advantages, their love for the relationships they`ve built. It was their authenticity and passion that had allowed me to see Dartmouth as a potential home, not another prestigious college. Though I still catch myself feeling anxious, thinking about Dartmouth`s strong community makes me excited about the future. I don`t know who I am yet, but Dartmouth is a great place to discover that.

Ultimately, there is no easy way out of such a big life decision, but the journey to get there can still be inspiring despite its many challenges. So don´t hesitate to reach out to Dartmouth students; we'll be here for you. 


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