Mountains, Dartmouth, Simon Ellis
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Q:

I come from a low-income public high school. What is the transition to the Ivy League like for someone like me in terms of academic rigor and social life?

A: Simon headshot

This is a fantastic question and one that I wish I had seen an answer to before I came to Dartmouth! I'll go into a little bit of detail about where I am from and how my transition to Dartmouth was, but keep in mind this is just the experience of one low-income public school kid, and a lot of experiences differ. My high school is in a very rural farming community on a slightly larger but still very small island in the middle of the Pacific Ccean. More than half of our students were on free or reduced lunch programs, and most of us stayed on the island for college or for career opportunities, so even thinking of going to a school as different as Dartmouth was a big deal for me. My graduating class was 143 students, and I got used to the atmosphere of everyone coming to school on the bus and hanging out before school started, knowing everyone's names and their families, and then going to classes with TFA teachers because we were designated as a "high need" high school. One of the biggest things that scared me about applying to schools like Dartmouth was that I didn't have as many resources as a lot of other kids did - I didn't have an SAT or ACT tutor, I took as many AP classes as I could but there were only 5 at the time, and it felt weird to break the mold of staying close to home.

That being said, I am so glad that I did end up applying to Dartmouth because it is so much more like my high school and home than I could have expected! Being the smallest college in the Ivy Leauge and a relatively small college in general, I still got that feeling that I got at home; getting to see everyone and know them and their friends. The size is something that was super comforting about the transition and made me able to relate to a lot of things from home. That being said, it is obviously really different! Classes are much more academically challenging than they were in high school, but that goes for everyone. I have never felt disadvantaged compared to my peers due to my high school experience, professors really make sure that students all have equal education and a chance to learn. In moments when I felt like I was falling behind or I didn't learn something, I would just ask my professor to explain it in class or meet with them afterward for clarification. Talking to my friends from other schools, it seems like Dartmouth is much more like our high school than where they are going, and I love that feeling of being one community and knowing everyone. It also doesn't hurt that my high school and Dartmouth share the same colors and the same number of letters! 

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