Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unexpected Change of Heart

The early departure and the long car ride to get to Dartmouth was worth it. I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the thunderstorm that was scheduled today and it was in the upper 80s so it is similar to California weather.

When we arrived I thought the Dartmouth campus could have been the town by itself, featuring stores at the border of campus. I also couldn’t picture myself at Dartmouth. I couldn’t understand why; it was a suburban college, which I thought I preferred to a busy urban school, had plenty of open space, trees and even the familiarity of hills. It also reminded me a lot of St. Mary’s College and I am not interested in that type of school. Then I thought I would be won over by the tour guides as I had been with MIT, but alas it alienated me from the college further. The facts that our tour guide told us wasn’t appealing to my interests and the picture of Dartmouth I got was a socially competitive school that had too many parties. I made up my mind that Dartmouth was not my school.

Since we had a little time before our lunch reservation, we decided to go into Barnes & Nobles. I was slightly confused about the format of the store and thought the downstairs portion was the entire store, while there was a second story entirely filled with books. I decided to find the second book of the series I began on Tuesday, and it was a good decision because on the way back I finished the first book with two hours until we would reach the hotel. For 15 minutes I was looking around the bottom of the store trying to find the fiction section. I finally found and bought it after Kathleen told me that there was a second story.

We were joined for lunch by Peter Chau and John Beck, who worked at Dartmouth College as Admissions Officers. We didn’t get to ask a lot of question compared to the dinner at L’Espalier, but we did hear great stories of life at Dartmouth and the alums' decision of Dartmouth as their college of choice. Both Peter and John told stories of Dartmouth’s study abroad program, how they went to study a language and the associate culture. After the stories about Dartmouth, Andrew asked the most important question “what are Admissions Officers looking for on an application?”; the answer was not simple, despite previously hearing so many tips on what Admissions is looking for on applications from other people. John recommended that we try to personalize the personal statement and answer the prompt obvious enough that the person reading the essay should know without an explicit statement.

I think it may just be my accepting nature, but I actually like the Dartmouth that Peter and John talked about. It was different from the idea I got from the tour guide. Peter and John took us to more places on campus including one of the libraries that contains historical literature. We got to hear about how students are able to see the original documents, which I thought would unintentionally deteriorate the documents, and we saw the original Book of Mormon. John left us as we went down to see The Epic of American Civilization by José Clemente Orozco. Peter guided us through the rest of the school taking us to see the classes and through some of the buildings. Now I have mixed feelings about Dartmouth: I can’t see myself going there, but the things there intrigue me.

With plenty of time to spare, Peter brought our group out to the lawn to discuss anything. The conversation was inspirational, and now I feel motivated to either start my application process or research the schools that I want to apply to.

We decided against a sit down restaurant in favor of a quick order of Chinese food. It had been a long day yesterday and a long day today. We just wanted to eat and relax before tomorrow when we visit Yale and Wesleyan.


  1. I see that different people give you different impressions on the same college. I'm glad you got to see the different perspectives.

  2. Erinn,

    One of the reasons we set up these site tours is so you can see first hand what these schools are all about. Finding that 'perfect' fit can be tough.

    You should never rely solely on what you read in the brochures and on the Internet. They can help winnow down your selections but you need to see things first hand and talk with people who have attended the schools to get a better feel.

    Your reaction to Dartmouth is a perfect example of why this is so important. Even though everyone else saw great things in Dartmouth, you saw it through a different set of eyes--and that's perfectly okay.

    That's one school down and 3599 left to choose from.


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