Dartmouth supplemental essay examples will help you in your quest to deliver the very finest essay that you can. Seeking guidance on how to write a college essay can be useful, but equally useful can be reading over existing essays to see what the pros do, and how all the bits fit together.
Your essays are one of the most important aspects of your college application, and they should be as polished as possible. This might mean seeking out an essay workshop for students or reading expert college essay tips, but checking out examples can be helpful as well.
This article will take you through the necessary essays for Dartmouth’s supplemental section and provide you with some general essay writing tips.
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Dartmouth Supplemental Essays
Dartmouth requires students to write three essays. For the first two essays, students get one prompt that they will all follow. Pay close attention to all three prompts but note that if a school is requiring absolutely everybody to respond to the same prompt, that prompt is universally important, and something Dartmouth cares a lot about.
There are several prompts for the third essay, so you can choose the one you think will show off your unique abilities, talents, and experiences. Remember: essays in applications are about showing why you are the best possible candidate for that particular school.
Essay No. 1
“Dartmouth celebrates the ways in which its profound sense of place informs its profound sense of purpose. As you seek admission to Dartmouth ... what aspects of the College’s academic program, community, or campus environment attract your interest? In short, Why Dartmouth?”
Word limit: 100 words, max.
With the beauty of New England, the academic discipline, and exciting research opportunities, there is nothing about Dartmouth that doesn’t appeal to me.
My primary reason for wanting to attend Dartmouth is the research potential in energy engineering; I want to make an impact on environmental conservation, starting with energy. Dartmouth’s research on biomass processing technologies is very exciting.
Besides academics, I also have family in Hanover, so my support network would be strong at Dartmouth. Furthermore, the beauty and heritage of the campus is inspiring.
Dartmouth imbues me with a sense of place and purpose that inspires.
Essay No. 2
“‘Be yourself,’ Oscar Wilde advised. ‘Everyone else is taken.’ Introduce yourself...”
Word limit: 200–250 words
Given the prompt, it seems appropriate to start by saying that I am a big fan of Oscar Wilde. I am normally a shy person, and I may be uncomfortable being talked about, but I know there are worse things…
My sense of humor is my favorite aspect of myself, and I have always had a love of comedy – hence my interest in Oscar. My parents have said I laughed uproariously as a baby and they have taken as much delight in introducing me to Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Monty Python, and Mr. Show as I have in laughing with all of them.
I believe that a sense of humor and irony will aid everybody, and we could all use a good laugh at our own expense now and again. So much of politics and business and social anxiety could be better managed with a few well-placed guffaws.
In fact, learning to laugh at myself has been instrumental in conquering my shyness and allowing me to meet people and gain opportunities. Without that, I couldn’t have run for student government at my school – becoming vice president – or attempted stand-up comedy for the first time this summer. For the record, I mostly bombed my set, but I’m re-writing my material and learning how to bounce back from a setback – they won’t stop me!
So, that’s my “me.” Let everybody else be taken, Wilde, I’m perfectly content as I am.
Essay No. 3
Students choose one of the following essays to complete.
Word limit: 200–250 words
A. “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 making – an impact?”
Six hours in the sun pulling a wagon, knocking on doors, and asking people for used aluminum isn’t a fun way to spend a day, but I knew the importance of helping out with our local recycling programs. In this case, we were looking for aluminum tabs from pop cans to be remade into wheelchairs and provided for low-to-no cost to those in need.
My brother Jack uses a wheelchair, and so this cause appealed to me on two levels: I am also an environmentalist – like my parents, who are environmental scientists. Aiding a recycling program and getting wheelchairs to patients was therefore a win-win.
I have participated in many recycling programs over the years, trying to increase awareness, funding, and research. I even got to tour a laboratory where scientists are innovating improved recycling processes so that more communities have access to more efficient recycling or greater varieties of material.
Someday, I hope to join those scientists, learning everything I can about recycling technology and helping to pioneer even better research for highly efficient programs. Right now, durability of recycled products, the number of times something can be recycled, and the efficiency of the processes involved are all setbacks to what could be one of humanity’s most-sustainable programs.
Right now, I’m doing my best by volunteering with these programs and fundraising drives and learning all I am able through lab visits and by just talking with my parents. That’s how I will make an impact.
Check out this infographic for college essay writing tips:
B. “What excites you?”
There is a heartbeat other than my own that takes control of my mind and my soul and makes me dance. This heartbeat belongs to all of us – a common heartbeat for all of humanity, and it is the rhythm and pulse of music.
Music excites me.
I picked up a guitar when I was eight years old, a little Les Paul Junior at a music shop, and I begged my parents for lessons. I didn’t need many before I was off and exploring on my own. You couldn’t pry the guitar from my hands as I tried to play along with every song on the radio. I soon added other instruments to my repertoire, including drums, piano, and clarinet.
It isn’t just playing music that excites me. Listening to music and dancing are also wonderful experiences, whether alone or in a group. I love playing it, hearing it, moving to it. Even seeing the enjoyment others get out of it is magic.
Music is one of the great, unifying arts that we have; all cultures have a musical tradition, and I owe much to my love of music, as different styles of music have introduced me to other cultures and broadened my horizons as a person.
I believe in the transformational, revolutionary power contained in the tones of music, riding the rhythm of our common heartbeat.
C. “In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba, age 14, reflects on constructing a windmill from recycled materials to power electrical appliances in his family’s Malawian house: ‘If you want to make it, all you have to do is try.’ What drives you to create and what do you hope to make or have you made?”
Every inch of my being drives me to create. I consider myself to be a creative person – a writer – and I cannot stop. I couldn’t stop writing any more than I could stop breathing, and even if I were an illiterate peasant in the Middle Ages, I would still be muttering stories and ideas to myself and to those around me, all while lugging my grain sack and scythe through the fields.
That doesn’t mean I am without inspiration, and I am buoyed up by writers who have gone before. My personal favorite is Alexandre Dumas, and I was thrilled to take French this year so that I could read Dumas in his original language.
I have written extensively, contributing articles to our student newspaper, having a letter to the editor published in my town’s local paper, and sending out poems and short stories to anybody with an inbox – I have won second place in three short story competitions!
My goal, and what I am working toward, is a novel. I want to mimic my hero, Dumas, and write a long-form novel, featuring adventure and romance alongside social commentary and political intrigue. If my novel was published in serial format by a newspaper, I would be ecstatic. I am working on it now, slowly gathering notes and sources and outlining the characters and plot.
Perhaps that ambition is lofty, but with this powerful drive to create that consumes me, I don’t see any way around it.
D. “Dr. Seuss, aka Dartmouth alumnus Theodor Geisel, wrote, ‘Think and wonder. Wonder and think.’ What do you wonder and think about?”
Eight limbs coil about in the tank. Within seconds, the octopus is free, wriggling their way through tubes and ducts, operating switches and valves. I’m at the laboratory of a marine biologist, Dr. Fennerman, and she is showing us what her octopus – whom she has named Hornblower – is capable of.
My love of the sea began when I swam with jellyfish as a boy – they had drifted in to the bay where we were swimming. Later, my terrified parents insisted that I should not have gotten that close. Nevertheless, I started to read up on jellyfish and became fascinated with sea exploration.
What most fills me with wonder, however, is observing the octopus and thinking about the mind – not just the mind of the octopus, either, but the concept of minds and consciousness. I once watched Sir Roger Penrose discuss, in an interview, the concept of consciousness: this strange curiosity that we all have. We can’t even be certain of what consciousness is – simple neurons and brain chemistry, or something “else”? Even Penrose, a consummate scientist who has worked with Stephen Hawking, suspects consciousness to be more than just the stuff of grey matter, but the stuff of dreams.
I often think back to Hornblower the octopus, and I wonder if we will someday be able to communicate. I hope we will. Life is a mystery, and we haven’t even solved our own minds. Think on that.
E. “‘Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced,’ wrote James Baldwin. How does this quote apply to your life experiences?”
I was sent away when I was a teenager, and it still hurts me to think about it. I know my parents weren’t in a place where they could raise me, but I still blame myself a lot. I bounced around from home to home until Joe and Anne Miller took me in. Finally, at 16, I had a permanent place to live.
I get anxiety thinking about going away to school. I’m worried about needing to move again. But what’s beautiful is that Joe and Anne say I can always come home, and hearing that word, “Home,” and knowing it applies to me fills me with a contented warmth.
The systems that are in place to help kids like me are inadequate. That’s not always the fault of those running these programs; it’s just a lack of funding and help. I spent a lot of my adolescence facing that system – a reality which I couldn’t change. I faced it then as a “troubled youth,” and I couldn’t do anything; I was helpless.
I’m applying to study sociology and psychology so that I can become part of the system and face it from within – to be there for the wayfarers like me on their way to their forever Home. I’ve seen so much pain and so much love, and I don’t know what I can face down and change, but I know I will try until it changes or until forever folds around me.
Working on your Common App essay or personal statement too? Check out this video for tips:
General Essay Writing Tips and Tips for Dartmouth’s Specific Essays
Let’s start with your format, while looking at how to write a college essay. You will follow the standard essay format as often as possible. This is composed of three major sections: the opener, the body, and the conclusion. You can think of them as “beginning, middle, end,” if that is helpful.
The opening paragraph should start with an attention grabber, or “hook,” that will live up to its name and command the focus of the reader. This is the best approach to how to start a college essay. Make it such a good opening line that even someone who isn’t on the admissions committee would want to keep reading.
Your opener also sets up the rest of the essay, providing the central themes and ideas that you’ll explore – these are all contained within the prompts provided by Dartmouth, but your opener will connect those prompts to you, personally. Specifically, reading college essay introduction examples will show you how to accomplish this.
In the body of the essay, you will explore the prompt, how it relates to you, and, ideally, show how you have grown as a person or student, some accomplishments you have made, or skillsets and abilities that you have – all of which must be desirable for a potential Dartmouth student.
If you can connect specifically to Dartmouth, all the better. Mentioning programs or research that are unique to the school or highlighting that you have the qualities they are seeking in their mission and vision statements will connect you to the school and show off how you would be the ideal candidate.
Your overall goal is to make the committee want to bring you in for an alumni-conducted interview, so if your conclusion would make anybody want to meet you, ask questions, and learn more about you and your experiences, you will have succeeded.
Most of Dartmouth’s essays have a short limit of 250 words. The exception is a 100-word essay: even shorter. What this means for you is that you don’t have a lot of space to develop a variety of complex ideas per essay. Be surgical; get in, tell the necessary details for the prompt, and get out.
Be prepared to truncate and mess with the essay format a bit for the 100-word essay, as that prompt really requires a precision answer, and you might not be able to shape the essay in a standard way.
To build a successful application, give yourself every edge and benefit. A strong supplemental essay will achieve that. You are already taking the right steps by reading up on essay writing and seeking out examples to improve your work. Take your time refining the essays for your dream school.
1. Can I replace Essay No. 1 or Essay No. 2 with a second prompt from Essay No. 3?
No, you must answer those two essay questions, as per the requirements. Most schools want answers to the questions “Why this school?” and “Tell us about yourself.” They are two of the most common questions asked of students for a reason: they produce information that the admissions committee needs to know.
2. How long does it take to write an essay?
The amount of time will vary, but generally speaking, we think you should take 2–3 weeks to work on your essays. You don’t need to put in 40+ hours per week, but give yourself time to brainstorm, write, re-write, edit, and proofread; you’ll likely need and want time to get professional feedback as well.
3. I can’t think of anything to write, what do I do?
If you’re stuck on an optional prompt, you could switch to a different prompt proposed by the school and see if it resonates more with you. If your required essay is giving you difficulty, you’ll want to break your writer’s block with a little brainstorming. Take two minutes to free-associate on your topic, writing down anything you think of, and you’ll likely open up your thought processes and start to figure out what you want to say.
4. What’s next after I submit my essays?
If you are successful, you will be invited for an interview, which means that you might want to start thinking about how to prepare for your interview.
5. Can I alter my essays after I submit them?
The Common Application allows for changes to essays after submission, but with Dartmouth, you will specifically need to upload additional materials via your portal.
6. How do I get good feedback on my essays?
Look for a credible college essay review service. Teachers and other mentors might be able to help as well, but keep in mind that they are already busy people, so sticking with a professional service might be the better option.
7. What do I need to talk about most in my essays?
You might think that all you need to do is hit your academics and emphasize how smart you are, but that strategy might not be all that clever. Your transcripts and high school resume will show off your numbers. Instead, use your essay to introduce the “real you” to the admissions committee. They want to know you, and your uniqueness is your best shot at getting into your school of choice. Put the essential you on display for the best results.
8. What are the deadlines for writing my essays?
Deadlines change from year to year, so just follow the instructions in the Common App or Coalition App. Start as early as possible to maximize your time between now and the deadline.
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