Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League research university in Hanover, New Hampshire, a rural area in the North East of the United States. Despite being well renowned in the US, it does not quite have the international prestige associated with some of the other Ivy League schools. The alumni list for Harvard is more renowned, for example. That said, Dartmouth's history stretches back to 1769, and since its emergence in the early 20th century has been firmly regarded as one of the world's leading universities. With the acceptance rate of just over 10%, getting in is no easy task. Can you crack it?
Dartmouth will always have plenty of amazing applicants. A solid SAT score, being an all-rounder, and having well-written essays is not enough to stand out from the crowd. Instead, admissions officers are seeking candidates who can be described as being at a world level in a particular field. So instead of picking applicants with lots of extra curricular activities, Dartmouth admission officers are seeking out individuals who excel in one or two chosen fields. These activities are known as Super-Curricualrs. Creating your very own Super-Curricular can take years of preparation and is not an easy process. It is for this reason that you should start your preparation well in advance. An example of a Super-Curricular is your very own published book that is linked to a charitable project of your own making. Another example could be representing your country at an International Mathematics Olympiad.
2) Sit the SAT/ACT exams
While Super-Curriculars are vital, no one said you don't have to do well in the standardised testing. A strong performance in these tests is a pre-requisite for admission, a poor performance renders even the strongest Super-Curricular profile inadequate. Dartmouth requires everyone to have completed the SAT Reasoning exam (or the ACT as an alternative). While the writing component is not required, you really should complete the exam with the writing component as most of your competitors will have done it. What score do you need? Aim for 1550 on the SAT or 34 on the ACT and you can't get it wrong. A good free online tool is Khan Academy where anyone can practice the SAT for free.
3) Create a CommonApp profile
Virtually all of applications to Dartmouth are submitted via a portal known as the CommonApp. You can find it here. The portal requires you to provide detailed background information such as your name, age, and school details. You will also need to produce a number of admission essays. The questions to these essays are released on 1st of August in the year when you submit your application. It is recommended to start drafting them in August so that you are ahead of everybody else and have more time to sort out the other parts of your application.
4) Submit the Application by 1st November
Dartmouth has 2 application deadlines: Early Decision (1st November) and Regular Decision (1st January). Hard data shows that applicants have an advantage applying in the Early round. We therefore recommend that you apply by 1st November to ensure that your application gets the best possible chance of being picked by Dartmouth admissions officers. There is a catch however. The Early Decision application round is binding. This means that if you are admitted, you must withdraw all other applications and are bound to attend Dartmouth. It is also worth remembering that submitting a complete application during the Regular Round is much better than submitting a rushed application for the early round! Applying with a low SAT score in the Early Round thinking that you might "get lucky" will not work. Only use the Early Decision route if you are 100% confident that Dartmouth is where you want to end up and that your application is as good as it can be.
5) Continue to provide updates
Once you have submitted your application, it is imperative that you continue to provide the Admissions' Office with regular substantial updates regarding your progression as a candidate. Given the sheer number of people applying to Dartmouth College, the decision to admit a candidate is not always straightforward. Therefore, it is important to demonstrate that you are a candidate who continues to push themselves all the way up until the last day of the decision-making process. By doing this, you show that you are not someone who will just rest on their laurels. If they are down to two candidates for a place, they are more likely to award the offer to the one who has provided updates (assuming everything else is the same). Examples of updates could be a recent internship you just completed, extra funding you secured for your charitable project, or an article you published recently.
How to apply to Dartmouth University?
1) Start very early. If you are leaving the preparation to a mere one year in advance, you are doing it wrong. Most admitted candidates will spend a minimum of two years working on their overall profile and the application. It is not uncommon for successful admitted candidates to start 3 or even 4 years in advance which means starting when they are just 14.
2) Register and complete the SAT Reasoning (or the ACT) and SAT Subject Tests. If you are applying from a country where English is not an official language, you may also have to sit TOEFL - the English language exam. Both SAT exams are not straightforward and take time to master. A perfect score helps but won't get you in on its own. Remember that if you are doing the SAT, you should always include the optional writing component. Similarly, while Dartmouth only asks for 2 SAT Subject Tests, many admitted candidates will have completed 3 or even more of these. Do not skip the SAT Subject Tests and declare at least 3 complete tests.
3) Register and complete the CommonApp. This is a centralised portal through which you can apply to all of your US university choices, including Dartmouth. CommonApp requires you to complete a number of essays and it is best to start early. Essay questions are released each year on the 1st of August. The deadline for Early Decesion is 1st November and the Regular Decision deadline is 1st January.
4) Once you have applied, be sure to continue communicating with the Admissions' Office and to provide them with regular updates.
Jack, a current student at Dartmouth says: "Dartmouth is unique. You won't have the same experience anywhere else and all alumni share a life-long bond. I can highly recommend applying here."
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