Pleasing red wall with yellow leaves
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Friends holding candles

Required of all applicants. Please respond in 100 words or fewer:
"Dartmouth celebrates the ways in which its profound sense of place informs its profound sense of purpose. As you seek admission to Dartmouth's Class of 2028, what aspects of the College's academic program, community, and/or campus environment attract your interest? In short, why Dartmouth?"

I remembered how I stared at this question last fall, and my mind went blank.
I remembered how, when I clicked on Dartmouth's website, expecting to conduct some same old boring school research but became mesmerized by what Dartmouth has to offer, how I browsed through People Places Pines trying to know every minute detail of this institution, and how I already envisioned (daydreamed) my future with Dartmouth's programs and professors in it.
Scrolling through my 10-page long Dartmouth school research file, I wondered: how can I fit in so many things that attracted me in only 100 words?

I often think back at this question that had given me so much headache during my application season. Would I answer this question differently now? Yes, and a lot. Would I know how to squeeze everything in 100 words? Unfortunately, still no, but I would love to share my new "Why Dartmouth" as a Dartmouth first-year student.

I love how upperclassmen danced in flair to welcome the incoming first-year class, how we played card games and had heartfelt conversations under the dim lantern light in the cabin during First-Year Trips, how we followed the wave of flickering flames into the woods toward a chorus singing by the end of orientation, and how we were walking around the bonfire in the rain during homecoming weekend, with upperclassmen and alumni shouting "touch the fire" (don't do it!) in the back. These quirky traditions make Dartmouth a family in the woods. 

Selfie of friends holding candles
twilight ceremony

I love how all my professors know my name, how my Linear Algebra professor gives us snacks during exams, and how my academic advisor—an incredibly accomplished and respectable scholar—genuinely cares about me and provides me with so much support. I love how all upper-level students that I reached out to were always more than happy to meet up and share whatever insights and suggestions with me — and how they really cared about me and would chat with me every time we met afterward.

I love everything I did with friends: bathing in sunshine on the Green in (rare) lazy afternoons, going on hikes at Pine Park over weekends, dressing in black and watching Oppenheimer at the Hop (Hopkins Center for the Arts) together, reading our favorite lines of French poetry to each other over dinner; teaching each other phrases in different languages over brunch; talking about random fun things over weekly French lunch tables (from our daily lives to the arts to French philosophers); or simply studying with them. I love how much we actually cared about each other and how we were always willing to do whatever we could to help each other. As an international student and an introvert, I am still amazed by how I can find such dear, funny, and lovely close friends so soon without going to a single party.

Chalkboard with schedule
One of my favorite things to do—book study rooms and study with friends!

With that said, I know that I might have made it even harder to answer the "Why Dartmouth" question in 100 words, but I hope that I have provided some more insights into college life at Dartmouth. Dartmouth truly is a college of people—a college with its own quirky but fun personalities—and where you will find your place and your people no matter who you are.

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