Visiting Dartmouth Without Actually Visiting Dartmouth
Despite the vast ocean that separates me and my dream school, I applied to Dartmouth College as an international student from Bangkok, Thailand in the early decision round. This wasn't just a leap of faith, I assure you. Although unable to physically witness the scenic landscapes of Hanover and the school's vibrant community, I found numerous resources that allowed me to capture the true Dartmouth experience. This strengthened my decision to commit to the college, and I'm here to share my story with all aspiring students who wish to learn more about their options without actually visiting the schools.
I believe it is truly important to get to know the college and its people before you apply, especially when it comes to the early decision round. If you are unfamiliar with the term, the early round requires prospective students to apply to the college earlier in their senior year of high school (usually early November). However, this also means that they get their admissions notification earlier too (usually mid-to-late December)! The early round is divided into the early decisions and the early actions, with the early decisions requiring accepted students to commit to the school and withdraw all applications to other schools. I'm going to spare the details, but it is immensely important to know the policies of each school (early rounds) and their application due dates. With that said, a helpful thing to do is to make a spreadsheet of all the schools you consider applying to. Write down their application due dates, whether it'd be the early decision rounds or the regular decision rounds. All of this highly important information can be found on the school's website! I pasted the website's URL on the spreadsheet as well. Once deadlines are established, it's time to explore.
When I was doing my college research, I started with the academics–majors offered, research opportunities, median SAT score (although Dartmouth is SAT optional!), study abroad programs, curriculum, and many more. It's also helpful to know the admissions statistics of prior classes, the process, and the affordability of the schools. The more exhilarating part is college life and its traditions! Feel free to use as many resources as you want. For Dartmouth, I read the People Places Pines blogs, watched Joelle and other famous Dartmouth Youtubers, explored the 'Life at Dartmouth' page, stalked the @raunerlibrary Instagram account, interviewed multiple Dartmouth students and alumni, and attended numerous virtual tours and student panels! I absorbed myself into the opportunities that are available online and made sure I knew the school as best as I could before applying. Whatever seems remotely interesting, jot it down on the spreadsheet and do more digging if you have time. You might even find niche facts that you can add to your 'Why Dartmouth' essay (or a similar prompt for many other schools). In my case, I found out about the Sugar Crew and explained to the admissions committee that I wanted to make my own maple syrup on campus.
Applying to colleges halfway across the globe can be simultaneously exciting and daunting. Take advantage of all the online resources available, and prepare yourself well before making your decisions! :)