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Dartmouth College

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What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

Besides receiving a well-rounded education at Dartmouth College, I have garnered many experiences that have facilitated my personal growth and happiness. Because of Dartmouth’s unique student body and liberal course policies, I am now much more knowledgeable about various worldviews and sciences, proficient in Spanish, and adept in the piano, the acoustic guitar, and the drums. If I achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a legislator, the diverse and intellectual environment of Dartmouth will aid my understanding of complex social issues and my decision-making, especially in terms of balancing the interests of my constituents. Moreover, learning how to speak Spanish by Dartmouth's “in-class and drill method” will assist me in communicating with the public in my home state of Texas, where Hispanics (or Latinos) are the largest minority and continuously increase in numbers. As Dartmouth is an Ivy League and NCAA Division 1 institution, I have competed academically and athletically against the crème of the crop at a college approximately 1,800 miles away from my hometown, which has made me stronger intellectually and psychologically. Lastly, attending Dartmouth has encouraged me to take up musical instruments that will provide me with life-long fulfillment.

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Dear Hannah (WHS ’11),I know your academic prospects seem pretty bleak. You are frantically finishing a paper for AP English while studying for exams in AP Art History and Physics, all for tomorrow. You cannot imagine how much more challenging college will be.Allow me to offer you some advice. Although you have aversion toward your rigorous high-school schedule, take advantage of it. Use these advanced classes not only for test preparation, but also for general educational value. Develop and perfect your own study methods now, so you will be confident in your learning ability in college. Accustom yourself to focusing and reading efficiently. AP textbooks seem intimidating now, but can you imagine a load that is impossible to read in its entirety? Review your course materials with selective eyes, and remain attentive in class, for your professors will give hints to the most important information. Finally, you deserve quality sleep! With every hour of sleep you lose, your immune system suffers — missing class because of illness is detrimental to the continuity of learning. I know you are a diligent worker and a tenacious student, but please do not forget to preserve your health.Sincerely,Hannah (Dartmouth ’15)

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As a black female attending an Ivy League college, at first, I must say I felt out of place, uncomfortable, and discriminated against. I never associated with people outside of my race, I didn't feel welcomed in the eyes of others, academically I struggled something fierce for my first 2 years here. Gradually, I became more active and more open, I became less narrow minded, I learned to appreciate the campus, the different people, the different views, and values that made up the diversity of Dartmouth I had failed to see when I first matriculated. As an individual I grew, personally, spiritually, and ofcourse, physically. Academics were crucial and as the years went by, I improved upon my study techniques. I would have to say that it was valuable for me to attend College, specifically Dartmouth because it taught me how to adapt and operate in normal society; that is it taught me how to be welcoming and sensitive to other cultures, races and ethnicities at the same time, learning how to embrace and share my own culture in an intellectual, giving and sharing atmosphere. It taught me how to be a strong, independent, intellectual , worldy, Black, Haitian Woman.

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You may never know if the college you choose is the right college or not, because, quite simply, you only get to attend one and will not know anything different. That being said, when choosing a college remember that a school is only as good as the people in it. Cost, reputation and location aside, the administration, students and faculty are the most important factors in choosing a good school. Firstly, ask current students whether or not the administration is helpful and will assist you with courses, finance and searching for jobs throughout your college career. A helpful administration can open doors for you and help you make the most of your time. Secondly, look at the academic and social atmosphere of the student body. It is always more enjoyable attending a school where students are motivated, cooperative and extroverted, rather than unmotivated, cutthroat or competitive. Finally, talk to professors and gauge whether they get you excited to learn and attend school. Once at college, remember that you get out what you put into it. Try new things, work hard and meet new people. College should change your life and be the best four years of your life.

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Parents should know that there is no "right" college. For any given student, there will be dozens of destinations where he/she will thrive in. That said, the first step to picking one among the many is having an honest, broad conversation with your child about future plans. Trust that your child, under your guidance for the last seventeen years, has matured to the point where they are capable of making sound decisions, and know that your role within this context is that of a moderator, not a planner. Begin the search and application process by junior year and let your child set a tentative timeline detailing college visits, test schedules, etc. And always keep in mind that your child's prospects neither begin or end with an undergraduate acceptance. The single largest mistake I see parents make in regards to making the most of the college experience is a lack of involvement in their child's lives after he/she is settled in the freshman dorm. Before and after the schoolyear, talk to your kids about alcohol consumption, long-term career plans and goals, their social lives, and their academic adjustment. And keep the conversation running until graduation.

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I deliberately avoided looking at my current school at first because it was my father's alma mater. College Board helped me identify half a dozen places I might have been happy, but none of the other colleges I visited inspired me the way my college did, nor did any of the other student bodies seem as passionate, excited, interesting, and engaged as the ones I met here. My advice to anyone looking at colleges is to take advantage of any opportunity you have to stay with a student, because it's the only way you get to meet the students there, and the people with whom you'll share your years in school will influence everything you do - your learning experience in classes, the sports you play, the extracurriculars in which you participate. A strongly engaged student body can take limited resources and use them to create an environment in which every student can pursue their passions, and finding a student body with whom you share ideas and passions can enable the most enriching, stimulating, entertaining, interesting, varied, and valuable college experience you could possibly attain, regardless of the resources of the college or university you attend.

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Swimming was a life skill that I lacked before entering colleege. While skiing, rock climbing, and kayaking may not have been life skills that are necessary to survive, they were activities that I had never experienced during the first 18 years of my lifetime. These activities have become some of my favorite passtimes as a student at Dartmouth. Although the college experience necessarily identifies with the fulfillment of academic curiousity, my college experience moreso identifies with a lifestyle that I had never dreamed of living and couldn't even imagine before college. It's a lifestyle that focuses on both mental and physical health and fitness. While I find that these activities are the source of my joy and stability, my GPA is oftentimes the source of my stress. Outside of these activities, I would probably be over stressed; but my experience at Dartmouth has had a dampening effect on such stress, much of this began with Dartmouth's swim test that is required in order to graduate; if it weren't for the swim test, I wouldn't have been forced to explore this life skill and leave my comfort zone, which would have been primarily academic.

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I am a go getter and get it done kind of person. I try my best to filter the effects of what people think about me and my goals. I love the thrill of adventures and trying out different new things. I would tell my high school self to disregard the drama and pain that inflicted me and to continue to remain strong; college is the ultimate reward and the waiting and the hard work will be more than compensated for. Instead of abiding by the philosophy of "think before you act", I would tell myself to imbibe the notion "dont think, just do"; otherwise, you will miss out on amazing experiences. It is better to regret, than to never have experienced something. Continue to fight for your beliefs and remain your confident, loving, hard working, and outgoing self; do not let yourself be intimidated no matter what the circumstances are. Do not allow yourself to be overwhelmed, but make a statement in all sectors of your endeavors: academics, extracurricular activities, and service. Dont let time pass you by and prevent procrastination from becoming one of your vices. Always remeber to remain true to yourself and that nothing is impossible.

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For Parents I would recommend starting the college search early probably the summer before the students junior year in high school. From my own experience my junior and senior year flew bye and if I hadn't started early the process would have been even more stressful than it already was. Also don't over emphasize the cost of the colleges your child may be looking at, cost is something that should be dealt with after the application process and not a major factor during the process of choosing where to apply; many colleges especially private institutions are willing to work out payment plans that won't create a financial burden, and just be their for your student the college application process is stressful and the more support provided the better. For Students the orientation period is the perfect time to put yourself out there and meet as many people as possible. While it may feel uncomfortable starting conversations with random people, everyone is in the same boat and feels just as uncomfortable, so just go for it, talk to as many people as possible, go to all the events, and don't be afriad to put yourself out there.

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"Dance for the French girls!" Accept the little opportunities that life brings, and embrace them without fear or embarrassment. During college, I had the chance to visit Madrid, Spain as part of a weeklong conference on social thought. While riding the Metro, our group struck up a conversation with some fellow attendees from France. These young women were fans of Shakira's "Waka Waka," which just happened to be our freshman class song. Naturally, I had fond memories of the choreographed dance that upperclassmen had taught me during orientation. But did I perform it for them, there in public, despite prompting from my fellow students as the song blared overhead? No. It's a decision I regret to this day. We all spend time worrying about what others think, but I should have never let self-conciousness get in the way of a wonderful moment. I should have thrown caution to the winds. I should have danced, not my sake, but for theirs. College is a time for diving in headfirst, for trying new things, for rising to the occasion. Remember that, and you'll be prepared not only for the next semester, but for the rest of your life.

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