3 Things I Wish I'd Known As a Prospective Student
Over the past year, I've talked a lot with prospective students or otherwise interested people about Dartmouth, and in doing so I've managed to get back into my state of mind as a high school senior applying to schools. Picking college is a big deal, but I have to say that if I knew what I do now about everything, I'd still pick Dartmouth a dozen times over.
When I made my college decision, I was very decisively Team Dartmouth, but I would've made my decision much quicker had I known a few things. My biggest concerns about Dartmouth were relegated to a few typical college anxieties: meeting people, imposter syndrome, and Greek life. It wouldn't be hyperbole to suggest that we all experience these anxieties, but it took a little bit before I gained the answers I needed about college life to give me peace of mind.
A lot of prospective students have asked me if I think Dartmouth is "cliquey." When you think cliquey, do you think of The Breakfast Club? Or maybe Mean Girls? Or truly maybe just every high school coming-of-age film ever? Dartmouth couldn't be further from that, for a number of reasons but namely the truth that Dartmouth students are passionate and therefore passionately involved. Being cliquey would mean that Dartmouth students don't move away from their passions, but I've never met someone that isn't involved across a spectrum of activities. It isn't uncommon to meet a senior who's an editor for a publication, a member of a Greek life organization, a diehard a cappella group member, and a stand-up comedian on Friday nights. I would say being diversely engaged is the norm. I met so many people so quickly during my first term at Dartmouth that I couldn't imagine feeling relegated to just one friend group. Simply impossible.
Imposter syndrome is a very real experience, and being surrounded by so many superstars can definitely feel intimidating at first and have you doubting your own abilities. The most important thing to realize is that in the same way that every Dartmouth student is passionate about something, everyone I've met has such a unique skillset and perspective to provide to any given project or discussion. If you're accepted to Dartmouth, you belong at Dartmouth for a number of possible reasons but mostly just one: you are enough. Don't let Dartmouth or any other college let you forget where you've come from and what you know.
The final question mark for me about Dartmouth was Greek life, largely because I didn't know what to expect. When I arrived at campus, a lot of my anxiety about Greek life vanished almost instantly because of how differently Greek life was realized at Dartmouth compared to institutions that my friends were enrolled in. The people I met that were pledged members of a Greek life organization were indistinguishable from other Dartmouth students and hardly matched up the picture of frat guys and sorority girls that saturate American media. Additionally, I was so blown away by the amount of events these Greek life organizations hosted that were open to all Dartmouth students. I also never felt pressured to engage with the Greek scene to find meaningful social activities nor did I see Greek life as "the only social scene." If I had known Greek life played a very optional role in one's Dartmouth career, I would have been so much more confident in my fit with Dartmouth (which I now know is perfect).
Pre-college anxiety is a universal feeling, but these are just my takes on a few of my biggest anxieties before attending Dartmouth that I feel like have been shared by a lot of interested prospective students. If I knew what I knew now during the time the picture for this post was taken, I would've never doubted that Dartmouth is the place for me. When you get here, you'll see what I mean. Until next time.