How to Get Into Dartmouth
December 14, 2017
How to Get Into Dartmouth
If you’re wondering how to get into Dartmouth, let’s start with the disappointing news. Dartmouth, like every other Ivy League institution, is extremely difficult to get into. Moreover, there is no magic “silver bullet” that will guarantee your admission to the Big Green. You still need great grades, great test scores, and a great deal of good luck. That being said, there are a couple of things you may want to pay attention to in your application, or as you plod through high school. Here’s a small playbook for the Big Green:
1. Being “well-rounded”
First off, Dartmouth does seem to place a slightly higher emphasis on “well-rounded” students than its Ivy League counterparts. Dartmouth tends to like a slightly more athletic, outdoorsy type (although, it may very well be the case that it’s simply these types of individuals who prefer Dartmouth, and not the other way around). Nonetheless, when walking around Dartmouth’s campus, it’s hard not to get the impression that everyone is somehow an elite athlete or eating way too many wheaties.
Bottom line: Dartmouth loves people who have a particular passion and uncommon achievements in that passion, but it also likes applicants with a few commonplace interests as well, such as sports or outdoors activities.
2. Having the “cool factor”
Second, according to one of our former admissions readers from Dartmouth, they have a proclivity for falling for the “cool factor.” Basically, this means you’ve done something that makes an admissions officer stop and say “oh - that’s pretty cool.” Perhaps this is symptomatic of Dartmouth’s desire for a diverse campus, or maybe it’s just part of Dartmouth’s institutional culture. But if you want to maximize your chances of getting into Dartmouth, try to do something really unique that will catch admissions officers eyes. For example, “I started a company which creates financial incentives to recycle,” is much cooler than the perennial snooze-fest: “I am a Model United Nations champion.” You'll want to exude this “cool factor” when tackling the Common App and Dartmouth essay prompts.
Bottom Line: ask a stranger to look at your resume. If he/she doesn’t say “oh - cool!” then you need to spice it up a bit. Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
3. Humanities Potential
Third, how do you feel about the Humanities? Historically, Dartmouth was a humanities-centric institution. It’s a college rather than a university, so it lacks the advanced facilities of many larger institutions. Thus, the college on the hill has tended to stick to what it does best: humanities and social sciences.
This changed slightly with the tenure of President Jim Kim (or Jimbo Slice as he is called by those who have too much time). President Kim refocused the institution on STEM fields, pushing Humanities to the side for the time being. However, things seemed to have returned to normal, as admissions officers from this past cycle have reported that the admissions office was requesting readers to “flag” humanities applicants.
Bottom line: Dartmouth has and will likely continue to have a stronger preference for the humanities and social sciences. Imagine an admissions officer’s perspective: you might be a little reluctant to admit a student interested in Engineering when so many similarly competitive schools have better engineering programs. On the other hand, a student interested in Government or Classics, if admitted, is quite likely to attend - at least relative to a STEM applicant.
So, what's the answer to how to get into Dartmouth? Dartmouth is a tight-knit community that seeks all-around awesome candidates. Being well-rounded, cool, and having an interest in Humanities all might give you an edge, but you need to be the total package. Pursue your passions, and the best of luck to you!