Make sure your college application reflects the person that you are
Picking a college
Located in Hannover in rural New Hampshire, Dartmouth is the only Ivy League institution to use ‘College’ instead of ‘University’ at the end of its name to emphasise its undergraduate character. I applied to Dartmouth College as an Early Decision applicant. Early Decision is a binding application track that commits students to attending the college they apply to, and they can only apply to one college early. I was accepted and I’m now pursuing a four-year Bachelor’s degree in Art History and Government.
I was primarily attracted to Dartmouth, because of its focus on undergraduate education and small class sizes. This gives students the opportunity to learn from, research with, and discuss issues with people who are at the vanguard of their field, some of the world’s foremost scholars in their areas.
Before you apply
I think the real preparation began when I was in Class 8, and I started studying for the IGCSE examinations. I’ve always been involved in extra-curricular activities, because they help ground my learning in something real and tangible, and this helps during college admissions.
I started preparing for my SAT I early in Class 11, finishing the exams with a 2320/2400 (when the test used to be scored on 2400. It’s now 1600). I attempted it twice, in October and December 2014.
The application process actually begins the summer before you are to apply. I started by researching colleges. Begin with writing essays, interning and writing reports. It depends if you want to apply to Early or Regular Decision; understanding these cycles are really important.
Go to a good guidance counsellor, who will help you figure out how to navigate this rather complex process.
Follow your passion and be genuine. Love what you do. This is the only way that you will enjoy what you are doing, and for the college to see that you are passionate.
The college admissions officers do not know you personally. Your application is the only way they can translate the numbers on your transcript into something human. Don’t curate your appearance, but make sure that your essays truly reflect the person that you are.
Academics aren’t enough. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you are no more than a bookworm, you are unable to translate your knowledge into the real world. You need to be a leader; the education here is to craft you into the leaders of tomorrow.
Benefits of an Ivy League environment
At Dartmouth, the classes are small and the student is the focus. The purpose of education here is to promote critical thinking and the skills that come with processing knowledge. This helps you perceive knowledge and epistemology in very different ways.
The amount of times I’ve received special treatment by people because I’m an Ivy League student is startling. There is an underlying assumption that if I was chosen from tens of thousands of applicants to be a member of an elite educational institution, I would be smart. It is helpful when introducing oneself.
The resources that I have access to here, including an original copy of Shakespeare’s full collection of plays (the first folio), the first book printed fully digitally, and art by Rembrandt and James Nachtwey at The Hood Museum of Art are just some of the benefits.
The ability to call upon alumni, too, is spectacular. Alumni networks tend to be tightly knit, and geared towards helping students. The college has given me opportunities that would not be available anywhere else, apart from here.
As told to Avril-Ann Braganza
(This is the first in the series of How I got into an Ivy League. If you are an alumnus of, or a current student at an Ivy League,and would like to share your story, write to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)