Dartmouth College Top Questions

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

Evan

I think I would have rather gone into an honors program at a much larger school so I would get more special attention and stand out academically more, as well as having the oppurtunity to meet a wider variety of people.

Rebecca

I would tell myself not to get too caught up in the college social life the first semester. I would also remind myself that the school that i was going to is incredibly competitive and not to get discouraged by having a hard time with the academics at first. Also to not take such hard classes in the very beginning. I would say that it's okay to not know exactly what I want to do and that even if things don't work out exactly how I planned, they would work out in another ways that was still amazing.

Jake

I would say don't worry about what your friends think, dont worry about what your teammates or coaches think... what school will put you in the best position 10 years from now? If you know you are doing the right thing for your future, you will be much happier right now! This confidence will allow you to make the most out of your undergraduate experience

Korey

Go to the best college that you get in. When you get to college, no matter what college it is, nor what kind of high school you come from, work really really hard and get good grades.

Clark

I would tell myself to take more AP tests. It is useful to have credits coming in to college. I would also tell myself to try to be as outgoing as possible during the first couple of months at college. This is the best way to meet as many people as possible and make it easier to realize who are good friends. It also let's one learn about his/herself and what one likes in people.

zawadi

Take advantage of ALL opportunities offered to you, especially the 5 free visits to schools of your interest. Do not be scared to ask ANY question about the schools you are looking at. This willl be your life for the next 4 years, and you need to be as prepared as possible. Practice time management!!!! Prioritize!!!! There will ALWAYS be something going on on campus and no matter how much of a social butterfly you try to be there is no way you can catch it all, so do you what you need to do, because later on there will always be time for fun. Don't ever doubt yourself. Sounds cliche, but it is really true. Believe in yourself and it will make the transition process a lot smoother.

Reba

Definitely visit the school before you decide to attend. Make sure you feel comfortable where you are because you will be spending the next four years of your life on that campus and you don't want to be unhappy. Also make sure you are open-minded and never take anything someone else may say about you too seriously. Also be happy where you are, college is about getting your education but also make a few good relations with your fellow classmates; it could help you in the future.

Chiara

The search for a college and the application process is one of the most grueling and draining processes of your high school career. It is important to remember throughout that finding a college works out for everyone! Whether you think so or not, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel! While you are trying to find a college remember that the biggest mistake you can make is to try to make yourself fit into what you think is the college of your dreams. You really should aim to find a college that fits you and will give you the best opportunities to learn about yourself and to make yourself a more educated person. If you don't know what you want to study or what you want to be when you get out of college that's ok! Most college students don't know what they want to do either and college is the perfect opportunity to figure it out. The person that goes in will and should be a completely different person that comes out. Have fun. After all, it is YOUR education. YOU earned it!

Laura

I ended up at a college that I initially did not even think of looking at, and I absolutely love it. I remember stepping onto the campus during my junior year of high school, and it just felt right. This discovery openned up doors for me, and helped me realize that I needed to look at the sum of the school to make a choice, rather than just the parts. I don't think I would have made the right choice for me without that visit. So, if it is financially viable, visit some schools. It doesn't even have to be the schools that you plan to apply to. Getting out there and looking at different campuses will help you understand more about yourself, and what you want in a college. But most of all, if you get the chance, look at colleges that you initially write off your list; if nothing else, looking at that college will confirm your intuition, but it may also be a great choice for you (which was my scenario). There are many colleges out there that will be perfect for you, and it may just take some digging to find them.

Casey

For athletes, make sure you would still attend the school even if you weren't going to play a sport. Also, take a visit and talk to as many different people as you can about their feelings regarding the institution.

Travis

The college experience is what YOU make of it! There is no one perfect college for everyone, nor is there necessarily one perfect college for anyone, but there are schools that "fit" better than others, and that is the challenge in finding a school. For me, the first time I arrived on the campus of my college I knew it was the school for me, but not everyone gets that experience; nor would I have had the same experience if I didn't know about the key features of the school. Look at admissions statistics and try and find a school where you will be academically challenged but not overwhelmed, where you work as hard as you are willing to succeed. Be sure professors are of a high caliber (because quality of a class depends solely on your understanding of the material, which truly depends on the professor.) Also, make sure that the extracurriculars that you desire are available. Once you've selected the college with the most potential, all that is left is living the experience The best moments are usually spontaneous: say "yes" as much as possible - that inkling of doubt only deters you from amazing experiences.

Adam

Follow mind and heart. Parents don't be overbearing. Students keep your wits about you.

Matthew

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.

Alan

It is not the same as going to Wharton for business, or Swarthmore or UChicago for academics, or MIT for engineering, but Dartmouth's undergrad program is all-around very good, with little to no weaknesses on the undergrad level. But if you want a hardcore academic experience, look elsewhere. The truth is, Dartmouth has little to recommend it when compared to peer institutions, academically. Sure, the school is small, but the course offerings, particularly on the graduate level, are limited, and there is a weak environment among the student body intellectually.

Sarah

Do what feels right to you. I know this is really vague, but a lot of times, when you find the right college, you know as soon as you step on the campus. Trust your instincts, and don't dwell too much on the dry stuff. Don't get me wrong, the number of award winning professors and average test scores of accepted students are a consideration. But much more important is the environment you want to spend four years in. When you visit the school, try to see how the students interact and judge if you could be happy with the size and location of that school. Because no matter the classes and extra-curricular activitie, the determinant of whether you thrive in college or not is often the people you find around you and the support you can find in your fellow students. And finally, don't get too stressed out--things will work out, even if not quite in the way you planned. And you may be surprised--it may be even better.

Mark

I chose my college based purely on its reputation. When I visited the campus, I didn't much care for it. Nevertheless, I made the right choice. Having gone to Dartmouth for more than a year now, I can't imagine myself anywhere else. If I were to apply for colleges again, I believe that I would have chosen Dartmouth once again, using a much more logical standard of selection. The most important thing to look for in a college is the people. When you go to visit the campus (and you absolutely must), are people standoffish? Are students helpful if you ask a question? Does the population look happy, hungover,... Next, and more obviously, you must consider the strengths of the program you are interested in. Use websites like college confidential (if you are a parent, I recommend forging a student account, as there is better information here than in the student section) to figure out if the reputation that the college has is well-founded. Blogs may be a pain to read, but you'll get some very honest (and occasionally accurate) information. Finally, when you go to college, be willing to like it. Don't be afraid.

Shen

If the school allows it, definitely take an interview at the perspective school, often asking for a personal reference to the school is more useful than anything you can read/research about the school. Ask engaging questions to your interviewer, ask them about specifics and personal stories relating to the college. Try and see the campus by yourself instead of with a tour guide. Or at least, explore the campus after taking the tour.

Jessica

Visit a good deal of different kinds of colleges to get a feel for where you are comfortable. They start to blend together after a while, so make a chart of all the aspects of college that are important to you, and check off which colleges have or don't have the things that you want (with notes--i.e. So-and-so college has a pool, but it isnt very big and looks kind of scummy). Read what other students say about the college, but don't base your assumption on one opinion. Look around at the people at info sess ions for a particular college, they will probably represent what types of classmates you will have. Aim high, worry about finances once you're happy where you are. Once you're at the school you've picked, don't be shy--but don't be a doormat. Making good friends is huge to your college experience, so you want to hang around people who really respect you and your choices, and are interested in what you have to say. Party hard, but also have fun in the classroom.

Delia

Make sure you are paying the price you want to pay, and going to a place that gives you lots of options and makes you feel free.

Masha

When selecting the right school: ignore your parents,school ranks, and your preconceived opinions. Visit the school, be a student for a day, and then close your eyes. If your gut tells you that you can do well and have fun in this school, then you found the school for you and you will be happy there next year. One last piece of advice, consider the college food, it does have an effect on your happiness, and ask about seasons. The winter can be dark and freezing, which is not for everyone. Good luck and go with your gut!

Sara

Think about how you destress and find a college that has the right resources for you. Think about how you learn and go to a school that has a learning model that fits your needs.

Michael

Don't worry too much. Dive right in.

Emily

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.

Allison

When trying to find the right college, try to keep in mind what you want out of a college, and make sure the college you attend is strong in that area (whether it is sports, academics, a sense of community, activities, etc.). When you visit the college, make sure you feel comfortable there, and could see yourself happy for the next few years there. To get the best sense of what the college is like stay overnight with a student; sample the classes, the night life, and the weekend activities. To make the most of your college experience make sure everything you do is something you love, or at least helps you get to something you love (ex: a class that you hate but you need for a major that you love). Meet new people, but stay close with the friends that you have both from home and the ones you've already made in college. Talk to professors and other studnets if you need help. Be open to trying everything at least once.

Stephen

It is absolutely necessary to visit a college to determine if its the right college for you. You need to talk with students (especially upperclassmen), go to classes, eat in the dining halls, and try to experience the school as much as possible. It is impossibly difficult to understand what a given college is like To make the most of the college experience, it is important to maintain a healthy balance in your life. While academics should without a doubt be your number one priority in college, you also need to have fun. And it is this person's definition of fun which ultimately determines the perfect college fit. Some people enjoy Greek life, others enjoy guest lectures and orchestra concerts, and still others might enjoy intramural and varsity sports.

Rebekah

Visit the schools and see where you are most comfortable. Stops students on the visits and ask them for their opinions on the school. They are the best resources for your decision making process. They will honestly tell you what are the best and worst parts about the school. To make the best out of your college experience join one or two groups that are filled with like-minded students whether it is a religious group, political group, academic group, or social group. The students in these groups will make the best friends because they are interested in the same activities and they will be supportive of you.

Cory

When picking a college, it's important to consider a multifaceted picture of what you're looking for in your college experience; think about the type of peer you want to be surrounded by the sort of social life you are expecting, the level of academic rigor in your classes, and the sort of community your college will foster. Every school has its advantages and disadvantages. An inner-city school will have more resources and local opportunities but its campus community will suffer because of proximity to an outside social scene. A large research-based university will have great academic resources but not as much student-faculty interaction, as well as large classes and less attention. But keep in mind, when considering all these academic options: college is also a time to savor your youth! Go for a school that will nurture your passions and help you grow as well. If you plan on living in a city the rest of your life, try living in a more rural campus for your undergrad years. Once at school, take risks! Every class you take doesn't need to be relevant to your course of study; meet new people, and have fun!

Kalie

Advice and college-help books can only do so much- when it comes to picking your college, visit the campus and get your own feel. Wherever you end up you'll be happy if it feels like home. Embrace your college completely, for its quirks, its pluses, its downsides, its unique and special qualities, and I promise by your sophomore year, you're home.

Garrett

Whether you go to the Ivy League or Community College, college is what you make of it--you get out what you put in. Though I attend Dartmouth, where resources abound, if I was not personally invested in my own education, it wouldn't matter, and I would be wasting my time here. A big key to happiness on any campus is finding your own personal family, be it an athletic team, a Greek house, the Outing Club--whatever. Students, consider whether you know what you want to do (if you don't, that's FINE--most don't). If decided, consider specific programs of schools; if not, consider colleges where you can explore a variety of disciplines. Consider how many different types of "families", i.e. extracurricular activities there are on campus. If everyone goes home for the weekends, that's bad--the campus should stand on its own. Parents, make college visits a reality, and let your kids choose. Talk to tour guides, admissions people--have long conversations and get their emails, they'll help you. Finally, know it's not the end all--you can always transfer, and you're very young for a very long time.

nick

visit many campuses, sit in on classes, talk with students.

Kathleen

There is a lot of emphasis on "finding the right school." I think the most successful college students are those who make the most with what they've got. You can find schools that are a better match or a worse match for your interests, but as long as you choose carefully which schools you're going to apply to, you will probably have a great time at any school on your list. College is a great experience, but it's totally what you make of it. Look at a school's academics, their student groups, their sports teams, and all that you want in a school. But also remember that there are less tangible aspects of a school that really make it a great college experience. Are students happy? Friendly? Are they relaxed but passionate? Do they balance academics and fun well? Most importantly, pay attention to your gut feeling. It could be a lot more important than those information sessions that seem all the same, than the pamphlets that praise SAT scores, selecitivity and student-faculty ratios. Ask yourself: do you like this school? Could you see yourself being happy there? You'll be fine. Good luck.

Taylor

I advise to visit every school on your list. Don't go because of a name or a legacy or because of your best friend. College is about finding out who YOU are and thus the choice of school should be a private choice; when visiting schools, your gut will tell you where you fit in. Once I stepped into Dartmouth's campus, I knew that was it. Granted, it was a beautiful day and studnets were lazing about on the green -- playing frisbee, reading, chatting to friends--but it was what I envisioned my college experience to be like. I would also advise to visit a school in the winter. Many a student were swayed by Dartmouth's late spring days and were shell-shocked come -20 winters. ...Anyway, I know I've spoken a lot about how you feel, and the weather, but for the most part, schools that a student would be looking at will be the same academically; it's very important to think about those other things that account for your day-to-day happiness--like the weather and the quality of life for the student body.

david

Visits aren't all they are cracked up to be. The first impression is useful but can often be deceiving and are scewed by hearsay and expectations. That being said, wandering with a host student who shares similar tastes/wants as you on the campus (especially on social days/nights) can be very important if a social life is important to you. Most important is to know what you are getting into before you sign the contract...get the facts (no one cares about student teacher ratio, rather talk to a student or two about what class sizes they've had). Good luck, you'll be fine whereever you end up and if not you can always transfer.

Jake

Students: you have 5 seconds to answer this question. Where are you going to college? This is an emotional time for you, so listen to your emotions. If you know its a good school, but something just didn't feel right that's because something isn't and you won't be able to be as successful as you can be. Go where you feel most comfortable, you'll be the most successful, and the job will fall in line. Remember, its better to do well at an average state school, than to graduate with a 2.8 at en elite private university. Parents: do whatever you possibly can to let your child attend the school of their dreams. There is no greater investment for you than their education! Trust me, they won't forget it when you decide to retire either.

Tess

Don't focus on trying to find a school that exactly fits to some ideal career goal - your mind will change numerous times! Find the school with the right vibe for you which offers you many opportunities and will allow you to grow as a person. I'm still figuring out who I am and what I plan on doing with my life, and I'm discovering that that's okay. It's the proccesses of learning and discovering and figuring out that are important.

Alexander

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.

Meredith

The most important thing to realize is that there is not one perfect school - you can be just as happy at numerous different campuses. The imporant thing is to see as many campuses as humanly possible so you can figure out what characteristics you like and what you don't (i.e. urban/rural, big/small, etc.). I chose Dartmouth because I did not meet one person that didn't love the school. I felt the intense school spirit as a high schooler, and quickly became enamored with the campus and the student body. You want to be passionate about your school, and have friends that are equally passionate, because you will form lifelong memories and relationships.

Kelly

Look at the quality of life ranking and base your decision on that. It will be a scary/fun/trying time and being happy is crucial. Once you are there, base your class choice on teachers' rankings and reputation among older students.

Whitney

Listen to yourself

Caitlin

You really need to trust your gut feeling. I made so many lists of pros and cons when I was trying to decide, but I always ended up coming back to my first choice. There was just always this feeling that this was the right place for me. Whatever college you compare all others to is clearly the best fit. You really do need to visit a lot of campuses though, I think the more places you can see and compare, the clearer the decision becomes. Just don't question your decision based on the concerns of your friends or family because YOU are the one who is going to be at that school for the next four years. It doesn't matter what anyone else has to say about it, as long as it is the right place for you!

kim

Visit the campus.

Jimmel

It will seem odd, but I believe parents and students should forget about jobs! We should not attend school to simply get a good job! We should be attending school to get a great education! Knowledge these days is power, so make it happen! Figure out if you want to be in a city or not, and then go to a school that focuses on the importance of learning and mastering concepts found within the industries your interested in.

martie

Take advantage of everything that the school has to offer.

Raina

If you can, visit the colleges you are interested in. Ask current students the questions you have; they can offer a more candid (and perhaps honest) perspective of a student's experience than the employees in the admissions office. Walk around the campus and ask yourself, 'Can I imagine myself here?' Visit the academic departments you are interested in, butr remain open to studying and exploring topics and ideas that may not seem immediately interesting or important to you. Don't be afraid to try new things, some of the most important college learning experiences happen outside the classroom. Remember that your professors are people, too! Visit them during office hours to talk about your class, and offer to take them out for a cup of tea to talk about life.

Jordan

Participate in college visisits, ask candid questions to students, alumni. Get feedback form older college age kids about campus issues.

iden

There are a few things to take into consideration. First and foremost, have a plan to finance your education, be it through loans, scholarships, or out of pocket. Secondly, winnow your list down. Eliminate schools that are in locations that are undesirable or significantly above/below your GPA/SAT range. Third, relax! No one knows at 18 what he wants to do with his life. Realize that majors are flexible and colleges are accomodating. Take that class about Egyption history or study that foreign language you're curious about. Join a sports team or club. Find clubs or organizations that interest you. College offers everything possible to you at the least risk possible - take advantage of it while you still have that freedom once you're in.

Zaneta

I would recommend visiting a lot of different campuses so you can get a good idea of what it is you are looking for in a school. Things such as size, location, resources, campus setting, academic specialties, foreign study opportunities, and research or liberal arts focus are all important aspects to consider. It is also important to know what sort of student body you want to associate with, since the people you go to college with have a huge impact on your experience. That said, don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and try something new; I left the West Coast for New England knowing no one, and in turn met a lot of people with a worldview completely different from my own. Keep in mind that college is as much about what you learn out of the classroom as in the classroom. Lastly, consider alumni networks and career placement opportunities from your college of choice. While it may sound like a shallow thing to consider, choosing a college with a strong alumni network can help you not only become part of a tight community during college, but after graduation as well.

Robert

I would recommend that both parents and students find a college that they feel comfortable at. Obviously the ultimate decision should be that of the student since they will be the one spending their time at the college but parental input is important. Find a place where the people are supportive and welcoming. People, whether it be the students, administrators or professors, make or break the college experience. While at college it is important to prioritize. Become involved and get the most out the entire experience. College should be just that, an experience. Remember what is important to you and strive to reach those goals. Best of luck and enjoy!

Kathryn

Take college tours and go to the available information sessions. Ask lot of questions, too. Make sure that when you get on campus, you can picture yourself living there for four years. Once you're inrolled in a college, remember that it's not just about the schoolwork. Don't hide away in the library studying all the time. Joing clubs, have lunch dates, and go to parties, even if you don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. Socialiazing in a HUGE part of the college experience, so live it up!

Michelle

College is what you make of it--Dartmouth was not my dream school by any means because of its location but I don't think I could be happier anywhere else. I've embraced all that Dartmouth has to offer in terms of service projects, extra-curriculars, leadership opportunities, research jobs, and the like. Similarly I've learned to work with what I didn't like--the location. I became involved in programming councils that allowed me to take trips to NY or Boston. I worked out travel plans with my friends on the East Coast to be together over Thanksgiving. In short, the most important thing is to make the college your own. What you put into it is what you get out of it and the college experience embodies that adage to a fault.

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