Over the next couple weeks, most seniors will begin to hear back from the schools they applied to under regular decision programs. As the decisions come in, seniors will have to make the very big decision of where to spend the next four years of their lives. I hope that by going through my reasons for choosing to attend Dartmouth, I can aid those seniors hearing from schools in their process of choosing where to go.
Firstly, the college you choose will not only be your place of learning for the next four years, it will also be your home. You have to find a place where you feel comfortable living. For me, I love Dartmouth’s campus and location. I love the snow and the cold, the fact that Dartmouth is secluded in a small town surrounded by a forest, and even just the buildings on campus. I also feel more comfortable moving to a small town knowing that Boston is only a little over two hours away and that Dartmouth runs buses to and from Boston almost every day.
In addition to making sure a college’s physical location and campus suit your personality, you have to make sure the students do as well. I am a very active person. I love playing sports, and growing up in Colorado, having access to the outdoors is also something that is very important to me. The fact that 80% of Dartmouth students participate in some form of organized athletics and that the Dartmouth Outing Club is the largest club on campus made me feel right at home with the students.
You also have to find a school that is the right size for you. I go to a large high school with more than 3,400 kids. I wanted to find a college that was a little bigger than my high school, but not by much. I like the size of my high school. It seems large enough to provide me with the activities and facilities I need while not being so large that I feel like a faceless person in the crowd. Dartmouth has a little more than 4,000 undergraduate students, and that size feels right for me. Other kids may feel that only 4,000 kids are too small for their liking.
There are some “just because” reasons that you want to go to a particular college. For me, those “just because” reasons were tradition and community. I wanted a football team to support, and I needed a strong sense of school spirit. Probably because of its relative isolation, Dartmouth has a sense of community that I didn’t find anywhere else. More than 90% of students live on campus all four years and I have yet to meet an alumnus who hasn’t told me how they wish they were back in my shoes, about to start their Dartmouth experience.
Last, but certainly not least, are academics. You have to choose a place where you fit academically. I liked the concept of small class sizes and having professors and not T.A.s teach the classes at Dartmouth. But going to a smaller school like Dartmouth may prevent you from taking classes that are only offered at a larger institution with the resources to support different types of classes. Going to a liberal arts college also may not provide me with the technical expertise I might need for specific jobs. But this is something that I valued less than the benefits I saw from pursuing a liberal arts education. Dartmouth is also on a type of quarter system called the D-Plan which I fell in love with because it requires 3 classes a quarter instead of 4 classes a semester. However, some people may not like the fact that the D-Plan also involves staying on campus during sophomore summer, but it’s something for which I am actually excited.
As you can see, choosing a college is an involved decision which only the person going to the school can truly make. Input from parents and friends is definitely helpful, just as long as you remember that in the end it’s your decision because it’s the next four years of your life. Good luck choosing a school and remember that at the end of the day, your college experience will be what you make of it. No one school can guarantee you a good or bad experience. That’s up to you.