Attention All Rural High School Students
Back when I was trying to decide where I was going to college, there were many factors I was trying to take into consideration – cost, academic focus, size, etc. However, something I don't think I emphasized was where my college is geographically and how rural or urban the college town is. When I say I'm from a rural town, that's selling it short by a mile. There were 600 people in my town, fields surrounded my house, and I frequently drove down my country backroads. The characteristics of a small, quaint town are built into my identity. I value being able to go outside and see trees, grass, and nature. I don't think I'm a city kind of person; I don't enjoy the hustle-and-bustle of the New York City streets or the sight of skyscrapers when I have my daily commute. Dartmouth has been the ultimate small-town school for me, and I truly couldn't see myself going to school anywhere else.
Especially for my fellow rural high school students, I would encourage you to think about the "livability" and location of the college you choose. At face value, it's easy to make the decision solely by looking at the academics or rigor of the school. Just remember, this will be your new home for the next four+ years of your life, and it's important that you align with the college atmosphere and surrounding towns. Dartmouth is in Hanover, New Hampshire - a quaint New England town with warm coffee shops and a tight community. The Upper Valley's picturesque mountains gave me the chance to experience something different than the flat farmland I'd grown so familiar with, but Hanover is still small, rural, quiet, and generally peaceful. It's something I've grown to be very appreciative of during my first two years here, and it's certainly something you should consider when choosing what college to attend.
I often hear the argument that Dartmouth is "in the middle of nowhere," or "there's nothing to do in such a small town in the middle of the forest." While we are in the middle of the forest (a beautiful forest at that), I challenge you to see the benefits of living in a small college town. Hanover is tied closely with the college; students are always going into town to grab a coffee or to do a bit of casual shopping. I've never once thought that I was lacking something because of Dartmouth's location. Being in the Upper Valley is one of Dartmouth's biggest strengths, and I think rural high school students would especially thrive here. Shoot, even if you are from a more suburban or urban setting, I hope you'd give rural life a try. Think about these things when choosing a college. Like I said, it will be your home for the next four years of your life!