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Dartmouth College 2024-25 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Dartmouth College 2024-25 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 short essay of 100 words, 2 essays of 250 words each

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Community, Oddball


Dartmouth’s writing supplement requires that applicants write brief responses to three supplemental essay prompts as follows:

1. Required of all applicants. Please respond in 100 words or fewer:

As you seek admission to Dartmouth’s Class of 2029, what aspects of the college’s academic program, community, and/or campus environment attract your interest? How is Dartmouth a good fit for you?

If you have the unsettling feeling that you’ve read this prompt somewhere before, worry not. This prompt should ring a bell because it’s just a slightly more verbose version of the most common supplemental essay question out there: why here? Dartmouth is specifically probing for information about what piques your interest about its academics, community, and/or campus environment. Focus on how you would spend your time at Dartmouth and how the environment might enrich your own sense of purpose. What are you hoping to major in and why? What cozy corners of campus would you curl up in to review course materials? Are you eager to get involved in the student newspaper or gospel choir? How would this school’s unique offerings, ethos, or campus community support your interests, personality, and values, and how will you get involved? As with all other “why” prompts, research is the key to writing a memorable essay, so spend a little time on the Dartmouth website and literally map your path from where you are now to where you hope to be in the near or distant future.

2. Required of all applicants, please respond to one of the following prompts in 250 words or fewer:

A.  There is a Quaker saying: Let your life speak. Describe the environment in which you were raised and the impact it has had on the person you are today.

Admissions wants to know what or who has made you into the person you are today. Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person, and how has that made your perspective unique? What you focus on here can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or specific to you and only you. Dartmouth is looking to add diverse perspectives to weave into the fabric of their student body. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, cuisine, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Were you raised in a Muslim family in a small southern town? Have you grown up on a farm tending to the animals and land? Were you adopted as a toddler? Consider what has influenced your identity and how your worldview or background will bring something of value to the community at Dartmouth.

B.  “Be yourself,” Oscar Wilde advised. “Everyone else is taken.” Introduce yourself.

This is the kind of prompt that tends to stump students the most. It’s so open-ended that many applicants don’t know where or how to start—but don’t worry, you’ll have a finished draft in no time! Start by answering the question stream-of-consciousness style. How would you introduce yourself to someone in a setting you’re comfortable in? Think about introducing yourself to someone after one of your plays or soccer games, gaming competitions or yoga classes. What would you say? You might talk about what interests you, things that are important to you, ideologies about life that offer you hope or feelings of connection. Maybe you’d address your favorite qualities about yourself or the burning passions that motivate your choices and worldview. We believe your best bet at a unique and memorable response is to leave yourself enough time to freewrite, draft, organize, edit, and polish. Responses to prompts like these shouldn’t be written in one sitting—there’s too much to capture!

3. Required of all applicants, please respond to one of the following prompts in 250 words or fewer:

A.  What excites you?

This prompt is as simple as they come, and yet it can be totally overwhelming to tackle. If nothing comes to mind immediately, read through the other prompts to see if anything makes that magic light bulb appear above your head. If you find yourself coming back to this prompt, try to focus on a subject that stokes your curiosity, a specific concept that has infiltrated your browser history, or an experience that has burned itself into your brain. Which kind of homework assignments are you clamoring to complete first? Which topics want to make you open up a new book, Google the definition of a word you’re not familiar with, or hit play on a podcast? Who challenges you to think of issues in new ways? Whatever excites you, Dartmouth is aiming to bring self-motivated, deep thinkers into their student body. Admissions officers want to know that you’ll be eager to contribute to lively class discussions and maybe conduct research in your latter years on campus. Remember, enthusiasm is infectious, so show them that you’ll be a valuable addition to any classroom setting by getting specific here—and maybe even getting them excited about a new topic!

B.  Labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta recommended a life of purpose. “We must use our lives to make the world a better place to live, not just to acquire things,” she said. “That is what we are put on the earth for.” In what ways do you hope to make—or are you already making—an impact? Why? How?

Community, community, community. Even though it doesn’t say it explicitly, this question is asking, “What do you hope to achieve for the greater good?” Dartmouth wants to know what you consider to be your life’s purpose. (They know you’re young and still figuring things out, so don’t worry about being held to it!) What kind of mark would you like to leave on the world? If you find yourself drawn to this prompt, odds are you already have a few ideas in mind. Whether you’d like to dedicate your life to advocating for the voiceless or tearing down barriers for marginalized groups, tell admissions why this path is the one you’ve chosen (or maybe it has chosen you!). Be sure to mention any progress you’ve already made toward this goal and how it will influence the work you hope to do in the future.

C.  In “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” Dr. Seuss invites us to “Think and wonder. Wonder and think.” Imagine your anticipated academic major: How does that course of study sync with Dr. Seuss’s advice to you?

Dartmouth wants to accept intellectually curious applicants, so take this opportunity to share what draws you to your proposed major. (This prompt is most likely to appeal to applicants who have a major in mind already.) How did you first get into this subject? Were you wondering about our solar system and got hooked on the theory of relativity and Physics as a future major? Did a particular chapter in your AP History textbook get you thinking about the rise and fall of empires, leading to a Classics major? Discuss not only how you first got into this field, but also how Dr. Seuss’ advice will guide your future study. How will you continue to wonder and think as a Dartmouth student? Ultimately, you want to describe what truly fascinates you while reflecting on how you will pursue it through your learning style.

D.  The social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees have been the focus of Dame Jane Goodall’s research for decades. Her understanding of animal behavior prompted the English primatologist to see a lesson for human communities as well: “Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.” Channel Dame Goodall: Tell us about a moment when you engaged in a difficult conversation or encountered someone with an opinion or perspective that was different from your own. How did you find common ground?

Engaging with others in meaningful conversations about important issues can be intimidating and challenging, especially when the other person has a different viewpoint than you do. Scroll through your memory to identify a time when you had an uncomfortable conversation with friends, family, or even an acquaintance. How did you approach this complex conversation? Were you able to clearly communicate your perspective? What did you take away from the discussion? Perhaps you learned that one of your friends was a passive supporter of an organization that you vehemently disagree with. How did you broach the subject and what was the outcome of your conversation? Did you question what you believe in, or perhaps, discover a new perspective you hadn’t considered before? How did you become a better listener or speaker because of this chat? You don’t need to have changed someone’s mind (or your own!) to impress admissions here. You just need to show that you’re not afraid to engage with those who may have different opinions from you. Dartmouth wants to foster the kind of learning environment that encourages respectful discussions about beliefs and values, so show admissions that you’re game to learn, listen, share, and grow.

E.  Celebrate your nerdy side.

All right, passionate people, this one’s for us! Dartmouth wants to accept intellectually curious applicants, so take this opportunity to demonstrate your passion for pursuing knowledge! When was the last time you lost track of time while researching something that caught your interest? When were you recently motivated to solve a problem or create something new? What was the last fact or skill you learned outside of school? Ultimately, you want to discuss examples of what truly fascinates you while also reflecting on what these examples say about your personality traits, interests, and/or learning style. Whether you could read about the cult of celebrity for hours on end or spend all weekend in the garage refurbishing old cars with your mom, admissions wants to hear about it. And don’t forget: this is still an essay about you, so don’t get lost in a detailed explanation of linear algebra; instead, focus on why it brings you joy, satisfaction, or purpose. 

F.  “It’s not easy being green…” was the frequent refrain of Kermit the Frog. How has difference been a part of your life, and how have you embraced it as part of your identity, outlook, or sense of purpose?

What a fabulous essay prompt—so simple, so concise, yet so ripe for exploration. Admissions is thinking critically about this common Kermit quote that others may overlook, and they want you to do the same. What is your “green,” so to speak? Feeling different from others is quite a universal experience, especially for teenagers, so take some time to think about what makes you feel different and how your relationship with that difference has changed over the years. This prompt could be a great opportunity to discuss your relationship with your racial, ethnic, or gender identity, but it doesn’t have to be; maybe you have celiac disease and pizza parties have been off the table, forcing you to bring food from home! Perhaps you’re a math nerd living in a family of artists. Whatever you choose to write about, the focus should be on how you have learned to love this part of yourself and how it has influenced the way you interact with the world. If this prompt calls to you, trust your instincts and leave yourself plenty of time to freewrite and revise. 

G.  Buddy Teevens ’79 was a legendary and much-beloved coach at Dartmouth. He often told parents: “Your son will be a great football player when it’s football time, a great student when it’s academic time, and a great person all of the time.” If Coach Teevens had said that to you, what would it mean to be “a great person”?

This prompt is asking you to do some introspection about your own values and what you consider aspects of a “great person.” Start by doing some brainstorming: grab a notebook and list out all of the communities you belong to—your family, sports teams, extracurricular clubs, your cultural groups (e.g. race, religion), your gender identity, etc.—and then jot down the values you associate with each one. You can also approach this prompt by writing down names of people you admire and listing out the qualities you associate with them. Which of these values are most important to you? Why? Maybe you admire the patience and radical optimism that your favorite teacher exudes. Perhaps you try to emulate your debate team coach’s knack for critical thinking and seriously considering each side of an issue. A strong answer to this question will show admissions not only what you consider virtues for a theoretical “great person,” but also what you may hope to contribute to their campus community. 

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School Stats:

State: New Hampshire
Acceptance Rate: 6%
Undergrad Population: 4,458
Tuition: $66,123
Ivy League: Yes
Supplemental Essay Prompt Guides:
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