Make sure your essays illustrate your personality! Everything you say should help us understand those intangibles that can't be easily reflected in a resume. Show qualities like sense of humor, passion, intellectual curiosity, self-awareness, and social-awareness. Your writing lets us get to know you and we read every word. Help us envision what you'll bring to Dartmouth.
The Application Essay
You may apply using the Common Application or the Coalition Application—Dartmouth has no preference of application platform and the essay prompts are identical. On either one, please choose one from the following essay prompts and respond. (250-word minimum, 650-word maximum.)
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
The Dartmouth Writing Supplement
Dartmouth’s writing supplement requires that applicants write brief responses to two supplemental essay prompts as follows:
1. Please respond in 100 words or less:
While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, uttered this memorable line: “It is, Sir…a small college. And yet, there are those who love it!” As you seek admission to the Class of 2022, what aspects of the College’s program, community, or campus environment attract your interest?
2. Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:
A. In Love Medicine, author Louise Erdrich ’76 writes, “Society is like this card game here, cousin. We got dealt our hand before we were even born, and as we grow we have to play as best as we can.” Describe your “hand” and reflect on how you have played it.
B. From songs and film to formulae and computer code, human expression and discovery take many forms. How do you express your creativity? What ideas or values do you explore and celebrate when your imagination wanders?
C. During the 2016 Olympic Games, American runner Abbey D’Agostino ’14 collided with another athlete in the first round of the 5,000-meter event. Both fell to the track. Although injured, Abbey’s first instinct was to help the other fallen athlete so they could continue the race together. Their selflessness was widely praised as the embodiment of the Olympic ideal of sportsmanship. Share a moment when kindness guided your actions.
D. Twenty years ago, the world met Harry Potter and his companions. One of the more memorable lines from the J.K. Rowling series was spoken by Albus Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” What ideas or experiences bring you joy?
E. “I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your intellectual curiosity.
F. “Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams,” television producer Shonda Rhimes ’91 told graduating seniors during her 2014 Commencement address. “It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” What inspires your hard work? What matters to you and how do you “make things happen” to create change?
“The College on The Hill” aka Dartmouth College has just released its essay prompts for Fall 2017. This private liberal arts college in Hanover, New Hampshire is, as we’re sure you’re aware, one of the eight schools in the Ivy League system. But is Dartmouth right for you?
We assess this school’s offerings in our “College Spotlight” below. But first! The prompts and how to master them!
This year’s prompts pull from Dartmouth’s distinguished alumni, school traditions — even the Muppets! They should serve as excellent inspiration to get creative and dig deeper into Dartmouth’s culture as you research your responses.
*Essay 1 (100 words or less): Oh, The Places You’ll Go is one of the most popular books by “Dr. Seuss,” Dartmouth Class of 1925. Where do you hope to go? What aspects of Dartmouth’s curriculum or community might help you get there?
CEA’s ADVICE: This is a combination of what we at CEA call the “Why Essay,” and a future goals essay. When discussing “where you hope to go,” think about your academic and professional ambitions. Can you clarify for admissions what you see see for yourself in your studies and career moving forward? If you are undecided, can you talk in a more general sense about what you would like to accomplish or how you see yourself making a mark on the world or impacting others? Once you set up your goal, build a bridge to how Dartmouth, specifically, can help you achieve that goal. How do you do that? With details! Do your research. Look up academic programs, campus organizations and other activities and initiatives that will impart new skills and give you the necessary experience to accomplish your objectives. Make sure whatever you focus on is specific to Dartmouth — you want admissions to immediately recognize that you are invested in their school and see a good fit for yourself at Dartmouth in particular.
*Essay 2 (250-300 words): Please choose one of the following prompts and respond:
- Essay Option 1: Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth ’91, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, recently documented her Year of Yes; for one year she vowed to say YES to everything that scared her. Share a moment when you stepped out of your comfort zone, and describe how it helped you grow into who you are today.
CEA’s ADVICE: Gotta love when a prompt gives Shonda some love. This essay asks you to recount a moment when you challenged yourself and said yes to the unexpected. When did you fight fear in favor of adventure? When have you surprised yourself? Did these risks yield rewards, and if so, how? These are good places to start when thinking about this essay.
- Essay Option 2: Celebrate an example of excellent teaching and how it illuminated the subject you were studying. Why did it resonate with you and excite your intellectual curiosity?
CEA’s ADVICE: This essay should be both a celebration of your relationship with an educator (or even a friend or a relative in some cases) and your love of learning. What inspires you to want to know more about something and who in your life has stoked that curiosity? A good answer to this prompt will not only give admissions a feel for your appetite for learning, it will also give them insight into how you absorb new information, what inspires you and what your interactions in the classroom might be like.
- Essay Option 3: In the wake of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” If you could tackle any of the world’s “troubles,” which one captures your imagination and inspires you to act? What would you invent or devise to mitigate it and how might your coursework at Dartmouth inform your ambitions?
CEA’S ADVICE: This is a prompt for both visionaries and activists. Is there a window for change you see in the world? If given infinite resources, how would you go about solving the problem you see? Or, if you have already been working for a cause that is important to you, this is the place to show it. What problems have you been trying to solve and how have you been working to enact change? Don’t forget to connect your ideas, be they totally practical or mildly fantastical, to the specific resources Dartmouth has to offer you in your pursuits.
- Essay Option 4: “It’s not easy being green” was a frequent lament of Kermit the Frog. Discuss.
CEA’s ADVICE: You can go pretty much anywhere with this one. Just remember that the point of these supplemental essays is to something new about yourself to admission — so what are you trying to say? Maybe you can discuss the hideousness of your forest green work uniform, leading to a larger discussion of what it’s like to work at Starbucks. Maybe being green can refer to the difficulty of being new at something. Whatever direction you take, commit to the idea and go all in!
- Essay Option 5: “Three things in human life are important,” said the novelist Henry James. “The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” Share a moment when kindness guided your actions.
CEA’s ADVICE: This one is a little tricky, as the line between describing sincere motivations and outright bragging can be a hard one to walk. Still, we would like to think all of you have some contenders for kindness stories, so think about these moments in which you extended yourself for others, with the purest of motivations. If you describe the action without characterizing it for the reader, the humanity should speak for itself.
- Essay Option 6: “Won’t you be my neighbor?” was the signature catchphrase of Fred Rogers, the creator and host of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. What kind of neighbor will you be in our undergraduate community at Dartmouth? What impact have you had on the neighbors in your life?
CEA’s ADVICE: This is an incarnation of another one of our favorite common essay types, “the community essay.” How have you contributed to the environment around you, be it the school environment, your larger community or a smaller organization with which you are involved? What is your role in a group — are you a leader? A workhorse? Are you someone who fights for the rights of others? Someone people feel comfortable talking to? Whatever neighborly qualities you choose to represent, make sure you provide examples from your life thus far and point out how you plan to use these skills and qualities through participation in specific activities and organizations at Dartmouth.
Specific instructions and application information here.
Now that you have the prompts under your belt, what else do you need to know?
First you’ll want to consider Dartmouth’s “year-round academic calendar of four 10-week terms,” which offers students a ton of flexibility in terms of how they split up their on-campus study time, internships and study abroad programs (of which there are many). The school is known for it’s massive variety of majors and available methods for executing and combining them (Special Majors, Multiple Majors, Modified Majors) as well as its intimate class size. Dartmouth is also highly committed to research, offering opportunities for hands-on research experience and meaningful mentorships to undergrads.
And then, there is the vibe. As soon as freshman walk onto the Dartmouth campus, they participate in Dartmouth Outdoors first year program, an orientation program that allows students to bond in a unique way and get acquainted with the beautiful area surrounding the college. Another tradition that’s been around for over 100 years is the annual Winter Carnival, which was started as a way to showcase athletes. The modern-day event includes the “Polar Bear Swim”, inviting brave students to jump into the freezing cold Occom Pond. Not athletic? Maybe you will consider joining one of the many exciting organizations on campus. If this sounds like the type of environment you would enjoy, then you need to check out our profile, followed by the Dartmouth’s 2016-17 essay prompts (which you’re obviously going to get started on now, right?):
- Number of undergrads: 4,289
- Student/Faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 11.5%
- SAT/ACT required: Yes
- Coalition or Common App: Common App
- Early Decision Application Deadline: November 1
- Regular Application Deadline: January 1
Digging to the Details
School Mission Statement
“Dartmouth College educates the most promising students and prepares them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership, through a faculty dedicated to teaching and the creation of knowledge.”
Just a few of the many well-known Dartmouth alumni:
- Dr. Seuss – Cat in the Hat and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas author
- Kirsten Gillibrand – U.S. Senator for the state of New York
- Nelson Rockefeller – 41st U.S. Vice President under President Gerald Ford
- Mindy Kaling – Actress (The Office, The Mindy Project), comedian, and writer
- Robert Frost – American Poet, wrote the famous line: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference“
Most Popular Academic Programs
Political Science and Government
Dartmouth is fairly active on social media. If you want to stay up to date with college events and student life, the school’s social pages is where you’ll want to be! Although the school doesn’t have admissions-specific social media accounts, information about the process is kept up-to-date on Dartmouth’s main social media pages. Have fun stalking away!
And that’s all, folks. You’re pretty much a Dartmouth expert now. So, start writing and maybe in a year from now, you’ll be writing and studying on the Green (while eating green eggs and ham?) at the College on the Hill.