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How to Respond to the Dartmouth Supplemental Essay Prompts
Dartmouth is an Ivy League institution found along the scenic Connecticut River in Hanover, New Hampshire. Just like other Ivy League institutions, Dartmouth is difficult to be admitted to as their acceptance rate is 9%. So, how do you become a part of the 9%? Writing stellar supplemental essays for your Dartmouth application is one way!
To stand out on your application, you need to have stunning responses to the Dartmouth supplemental prompts. The Dartmouth supplemental essays offer the perfect opportunity to display pieces of your personality. This is your chance to prove that you are a better candidate than others by sharing the unique characteristics and interests you possess.
So what are you waiting for? Read our guide below on how to make your Dartmouth supplemental essay responses flawless!
Breaking down the Dartmouth supplemental essay prompts
Dartmouth has applicants respond to two supplemental essays. The first one is mandatory and the second one provides you with an option of choosing between six responses.
The first Dartmouth supplemental essay needs to have a response of 100 words or less. This is not a lot of room for lengthy sentences or filler words. Rather, you should just be direct with your answer. Make sure to include as much detail and information as possible without exceeding the word limit.
The second Dartmouth supplemental essay needs to have a response of 250-300 words. This provides you with a little more wiggle room and ability to create some narration. However, there is still not a lot of space to drone on in your writing. Therefore, make sure you are getting your point across without too many filler words while staying on topic.
For the second Dartmouth supplemental essay, try to select the prompt that most appeals to you. Remember, the Dartmouth supplemental essays are all about getting to know you as an applicant and unique individuals. Therefore, they want to see what you are passionate about. Do not just select a prompt that you think the Dartmouth admissions office wants to hear.
While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, delivered this memorable line: “It is, sir,…a small college, and yet there are those who love it!” As you seek admission to the Class of 2026, what aspects of the College’s program, community, or campus environment attract your interest? (100 words or fewer)
Although there are a lot of words included in this question, it is essentially just another “Why us?” question! Therefore, do not overthink this one.
With the 100 word limit, there is not a lot of room to drag on about how amazing Dartmouth is. Therefore, you should brainstorm around two to three things about Dartmouth you absolutely love. This can include anything about Dartmouth, such as its beautiful campus and location, any important traditions they have, the academic programs offered, any extracurriculars you are excited for, and much more.
The key to responding to this prompt is to be specific. Show that you have done your research. Remember you do not have a lot of words to write your response so be sure to be short and sweet. Mention these two to three specific and detailed pieces and why you are interested in them.
Be sure to spend a lot of time researching Dartmouth and what makes them unique compared to other colleges. Remember, you are applying to an extremely selective college, so you want to make sure you are choosing something that other applicants would not think about. It is all about thinking outside of the box and showing the true you through your responses.
For the second of your Dartmouth supplemental essays, you’ll choose from a list of six potential prompts. Before making your choice, read them all carefully and determine which prompt most appeals to you. Remember to only select one prompt to answer!
The Hawaiian word mo’olelo is often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself. (200-300 words)
This question may seem complicated at first glance, but essentially Dartmouth just wants to hear about yourself and your background. What is your story? What is your history? Are there any legends in your family or hometown? What is your genealogy like? What traditions do you follow?
To begin, you should select one of these translations of the word “mo’olelo” (story, history, legend, genealogy, and tradition) to describe yourself. Try not to focus on your whole life story as this will be hard to fit into 300 words. Rather try to choose a particular story from your life that reveals a lot about who you are.
For the story, you can choose a defining moment throughout your life that does not fit in the other translations. You can discuss a time in your life where you witnessed something that changed your perspective. For example, maybe while on vacation you witnessed someone skydiving. The fact that humans have created crazy adrenaline events such as that has intrigued you ever since.
For history, you can discuss your family history, academic history or even employment history. There is an endless list of “histories” you could choose from. Just be sure that whichever you choose to write about ties back to your personality and personal motivations. For legend, you can think of any legends that have circulated throughout your family or hometown community. This one is one of the more difficult of the translations to think about selecting. However, if there is a folktale that is important to you, you should discuss what it is and what it means to you.
For genealogy, you should describe your family lineage and discuss important family members. For example, maybe your great-aunt was your mentor and helped you embrace your cultural differences and heritage. Remember, even when talking about other people you want to tie back your response to yourself.
For tradition, you should focus on a custom that you participate in. Maybe it is a family tradition or a town tradition. Try and think of what impact participating in this tradition has had on yourself. Do you want to continue this tradition with your own family some day in the future? Why or why not? Do you think traditions are vital for keeping people close?
Essentially, you want to show that you are aware of how unique you are. You should be spending a good chunk of your response on how you were shaped by whichever translation you choose to write about.
What excites you? (200-300 words)
Although this question is short and sweet, it is extremely broad! This means that you can answer this question in a lot of different ways. However, just because the question is broad does not mean your answer should be too. Rather, your answer should be extremely specific and detailed!
Before you start answering this prompt, you should sit down for a few minutes and list what excites you and makes you happy. Once you have a solid list of things that excite you, you should select whichever thing you are most passionate about.
Remember there is no right or wrong answer to this question! In fact, you can write about anything big or small. For example, you can choose to write about how each week a new episode of a TV show makes you excited because you get to watch it with your family. Or, you can write about how going for a walk in new trails where you live excites you because you love seeing new nature scenes. Or you can write about how helping people less fortunate than you makes you excited for your dream job at a nonprofit organization!
It does not matter what you choose to write about. What matters is how you justify your answer. The “why” is so important. Why does this particular thing excite you? How does it impact your life? Does it connect back to your future goals?
In addition, do not forget that this essay is for Dartmouth. So, if possible, try to connect what you are excited by back to Dartmouth and its resources. For example, as stated before, maybe going for a walk around your neighborhood makes you happy and excites you because of the new nature scenes you are able to see. You can then connect this back to your excitement to be immersed in the beautiful trees and nature of New Hampshire. Or, you can even connect it back to being excited about studying environmental studies at Dartmouth.
This essay can be a good place to tie in a passion to your intended major to give the Dartmouth admissions officers an idea of how your major connects to your interests.
In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba, Class of 2014, reflects on constructing a windmill from recycled materials to power the 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 already made?
Do not worry – you do not have to have created a working windmill to be able to answer this prompt! However, it is important that you are someone who is driven to create. Therefore, if you do not think that that sounds like you – do not answer this question!
This question has two parts that you should answer in your response. The first piece you need to answer is what exactly drives you to create. Essentially, what motivates you? Are you self-driven? What are you passionate about?
The second part of this question straightforwardly asks what you hope to make or have you already made? Try to think of a time where you were innovative and created something. This does not need to be a physical object, but rather can be a club, app, or something else along those lines. Dartmouth is looking for applicants who have made their ideas a reality!
If you have not physically made something tangible, do not worry. You can also write about any entrepreneurial ideas you have that you want to put into motion. For example, if you have an idea for a way to reduce carbon emissions – write about it! Maybe you do not have the money and resources to take this idea to fruition right now, but it is critical to show Dartmouth that you are thinking critically and creatively about solutions to issues.
Once you have written about something you have created or want to create, be sure to connect it back to what drives you. For example, let’s say you created an ASL club in high school because your best friend is deaf and there were not a lot of resources available to her. You should then connect this back to how you were driven to create this club because helping those who are less fortunate motivates you every day.
Take this prompt as an opportunity to reflect on what motivations you have and the thought process that goes into your creative endeavors. Do not just spend the entire essay detailing what your creation is!
You can even connect back to how Dartmouth can help you improve upon your creation or even make your idea a reality. Remember, you want to prove to Dartmouth that not only will they be valuable to you, but you are valuable to them! Therefore, personalize your essay to describe specific resources you would take advantage of as a Dartmouth student.
Curiosity is a guiding element of Toni Morrison’s talent as a writer. “I feel totally curious and alive and in control. And almost…magnificent, when I write,” she says. Celebrate your curiosity.
Although this question specifically mentions a writer, you do not have to be majoring in English to answer this question. This prompt is available for any applicant to answer so do not feel restricted by your interests.
This prompt is another type of broad question. Therefore, try to make your response very specific. To approach this question, you should select a time in which your curiosity was sparked.
To help you come up with ideas try thinking of a time where you couldn’t stop asking questions about the topic. Or a time where you were stuck in a YouTube black hole of research. Or the last time you learned something outside of school.
Once you have selected a topic that truly piques your curiosity, detail a narrative about the first time you became interested in this topic. What did you do to learn more? Did you look it up online? Ask your teacher questions?
Now that you have your topic, be sure to address the “celebrate” part of the prompt. What has your curiosity led you to do?
A good thing to do in this prompt is to connect back to Dartmouth’s resources and how they can help you build upon your curiosity. For example, maybe your curiosity was piqued by colors and how artists create art from seemingly nothing. You can then discuss how Dartmouth’s Visual Resource Center filled with colorful art will help you view art pieces in person.
“Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away,” observed Frida Kahlo. Apply Kahlo’s perspective to your own life.
Dartmouth wants to see that its applicants can keep up with the world surrounding them. The world never stops; it is always constantly changing, evolving, and moving. What are your thoughts on this? How has constant change affected your personal life?
The beauty of this quote is it can be interpreted either positively or negatively. Therefore, choose to view this quote the way you do. Do not shift your beliefs to appeal to the Dartmouth admissions officers. Being true to yourself is the most important thing.
Be sure that once you describe what this quote means to you, you connect it back to yourself. Write an example of a time where life seemed to go by too fast. Or a time in which you dealt with a change.
In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” Which of the world’s “troubles” inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?
When reading this quote I know a major problem immediately popped into your head. Therefore, if you choose to select this prompt make sure you are writing about this event! Clearly, you have a passion for the topic and that is what is most important.
Some examples of topics you can choose to write about include:
- Police brutality
- Climate change
- Income inequality
- Gun violence
You should only describe this problem briefly. If you are choosing a well-known issue you should not spend too much time writing about what the topic is, but rather, what this topic means to you.
Dive into how the issue has inspired you to take action. For example, maybe you donated to an organization or set up a walk-out at your high school. Whatever action you have taken, whether big or small, be sure to describe its impact on yourself and the community around you.
Then, be sure to connect back to Dartmouth. How will your education at Dartmouth further your ability to help out various causes? How can your knowledge and ideas help Dartmouth’s campus deal with smaller-leveled problems?
Final thoughts on responding to the Dartmouth supplemental essays
After reading our guide for responding to the Dartmouth supplemental essays, it is time to write your responses!
Be sure you are outlining and brainstorming prior to writing your responses. Remember, this is Dartmouth you are applying to! You want to ensure that every piece of your essay responses are well-thought out. Do not repeat yourself, and be sure to evenly distribute bits of personality and interests throughout your responses.
You are more than equipped to answer the Dartmouth supplemental essay questions! Good luck during the writing process!
Next steps after applying to Dartmouth
When you are finished writing your Dartmouth supplemental essays – it is time to submit your application!
Now, you should have celebrated your accomplishment of submitting your Dartmouth application! Well done! Be sure to check:
- Dartmouth portal
- Any Dartmouth social media accounts
For any updates to your application status! Once again best of luck to you!
Now that you are done with the Dartmouth supplemental essays, double check that your Coalition Application and Common Application essays are perfect! Also, make sure you check out our guide on how many schools to apply to.
Most importantly, check out our free scholarship search tool to help you finance your education. Best of luck in the college admissions process, and remember that Scholarships360 is here to help you!