The always stunning view from Mt Cardigan - pictured are Mts. Moose, Holt's Ledge, Winslow Ledge, and Smarts
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View of the Dartmouth green covered with students and Baker Berry Library in the background.

It's the third week of my third term at Dartmouth—my final term as I wrap up my first year! 

Time has flown by and I can't believe I was only two months away from graduation about a year ago. When I think back to how everything unfolded, I come back to a general feeling I had about the college search process. If I had to come up with the essence of that feeling, it would be that I had a great sense of what I wanted out of my college experience—not necessarily a deep, specific sense, but a guiding one nonetheless (you don't need to know exactly what you want). More importantly, however, I began to realize that choosing a space to spend four years of your life comes down to this question: who do you want to be after graduation? 

When you receive that coveted bachelor's degree from an institution of higher education—when you hold that diploma, take an awkward picture with the college president, and then stride off the stage in a polyester gown, what kind of person will you be? A degree is a degree no matter where you get it. Yes, certain institutions have more resources than others, but that begins to get at my previous question of identity.

I think it comes down to what the people and places you'll be exposed to; these are the things that ultimately shape you! 

The saying "You are who you surround yourself with" is in fact true. 

So, for me, I knew I wanted to be surrounded by the people, places, and pines of Dartmouth (yes that's an intentional reference to the name of this blog). I knew I wanted to be a more adventurous person with a stronger tie to the outdoors. I knew I wanted to be a person who could embrace the liberal arts while pursuing STEM, and have passionate friends who share my love for learning. I knew I would have a certain perspective after spending four years in the woods that I wouldn't be able to replicate anywhere else. Dartmouth was a place where I could see myself in the present, at graduation, and even beyond graduation.

As May 1st becomes closer, I hope this is a question you can consider. There's no right college for anyone—no statistics, markers of performance and opportunity, or even the coveted "brand" that can capture how a college fits someone. I think the answer should come internally—from a source of reflection (I know you've done a lot of that while writing essays). 

In that case, I'll leave you to think. 

(Note: I don't mean to downplay the factors of affordability and cost in choosing an institution. I'm very much aware of the importance need-based financial aid and other scholarships have in the process of choosing a college. Please strive to make wise financial decisions that also balance what I've covered in this post). 

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