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How to Respond to the 2023-2024 Dartmouth Supplemental Essay Prompts

By Cece Gilmore

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: October 12th, 2023
How to Respond to the 2023-2024 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 6%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! 

The Dartmouth College supplemental essay prompts

Responding to the Dartmouth supplemental essay prompts allows applicants to share their unique characteristics and interests. After all, Dartmouth wants to admit students who are a good fit for their campus and community. Dartmouth requires three supplemental essays, with the third prompt offering five interesting options to choose from. Read our guide below on how to make your Dartmouth supplemental essay responses flawless! 

Essay 1

Dartmouth celebrates the ways in which its profound sense of place informs its profound sense of purpose. As you seek admission to Dartmouth’s Class of 2028, what aspects of the College’s academic program, community, or campus environment attract your interest? In short, Why Dartmouth? (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 go on about how amazing Dartmouth is (plus, they already know they are pretty amazing!). Therefore, you should brainstorm around two to three things about Dartmouth that 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. Therefore, strive to make it short and sweet but also informative. Mention these two to three specific and detailed pieces and why you are interested in them. 

Be sure to spend 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. 

Essay 2

Option 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. (250 words or less)

Who are you, and how did you become who you are? That is the question Dartmouth is asking. As a student applying to Dartmouth, you have your own unique story to tell. While the description of the environment you grew up in is important, the ‘how” it impacted you is the true focus. Dartmouth wants to know how you made the most of whatever situation you grew up in. If you had privilege, what did you do with the opportunities presented? If you struggled, how did you triumph?

Take note of the word “impact” in the prompt, and think of the meaning of the word, which is “strong effect.” After you briefly describe the environment you grew up in (remember you only have 250 words!), ask yourself what your most positive qualities are. Then, ask yourself how your upbringing impacted, or had an effect, on one or two of those qualities. Even if your upbringing was less than ideal, perhaps you are all the more understanding and helpful to others who are less fortunate. 

Option B

“Be yourself,” Oscar Wilde advised. “Everyone else is taken.” Introduce yourself . (250 words or less)

Dartmouth receives a lot of applications from students from around the world with impressive applications. Therefore, this is your time to prove how unique you are and how your individuality will flourish while at Dartmouth. Be sure to not restate items from your resume or detail your entire life story. Rather, be as concise as possible while revealing your identity. 

This is a very open ended question, which can be tricky to start. To help brainstorm, think of the following questions: 

  • How would you introduce yourself to a complete stranger? 
  • If you had to make a slideshow about yourself, what would you include? 
  • What are your main interests? 
  • What could you not live without? 
  • How would someone close to you describe you? 

To format this response you can either: 

  • Write as if you were introducing yourself to someone
  • Create a more narrative and story-telling piece of writing
  • Something more creative!

Ultimately, the formatting does not matter as long as you accurately introduce yourself and highlight your uniqueness. Just remember to be authentic and focus on what makes you stand out from everyone else. 

Essay 3

For the third Dartmouth supplemental essay, you’ll choose from a list of five potential prompts. Before making your choice, read through them carefully and determine which prompt most appeals to you. Remember to only select one prompt to answer and keep it under 250 words! 

Option A

What excites you? (250 words or less)

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, 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. 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. You might even want to 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. 

Option 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 making – an impact?” (250 words or less)

Essentially, this prompt is asking “What do you hope to achieve for the greater good?” or “What do you think your life’s purpose is?” 

This may seem like a daunting question to tackle, but Dartmouth understands that you are young and still figuring life out. Therefore, do not feel like you need to have a concrete answer to this prompt. 

Dolores Huerta is a prominent civil rights activist who dedicated her life to advocating for immigrant rights. Therefore, Dartmouth is looking for someone who is dedicating their time to make a long term positive change in their world and community. 

Try to think of passions you have and what you have done to act on these passions. Have you ever volunteered anywhere? Have you created a business that donates money to charity? Have you created a club at your high school to help those who are less fortunate than you? 

Once you have identified your passions and purpose in life, detail what you want to continue to do to make an impact on this community. 

Option C

Dr. Suess, aka Theodor Geisel of Dartmouth’s Class of 1925, wrote, “Think and wonder. Wonder and think.” What do you wonder and think about? ” (250 words or less)

This prompt is the perfect opportunity for applicants who find themselves constantly asking questions and wanting to learn more about anything and everything. Try to think of the last time you went down an internet rabbit hole researching or bombarding someone with a million questions about a particular subject. What was it and why did this topic interest you? 

The great thing about this particular prompt is that there are no restrictions! You can talk about literally anything that you think and wonder about. Ultimately, you want to discuss something that truly fascinates you and makes you “nerd” out! 

Some examples of topics you could discuss are: 

  • Time travel
  • A bucket list trip
  • Going to space
  • How Bluetooth works

The possibilities are endless! Do not feel like you need to make up a dramatic narrative in order to impress Dartmouth. Rather, just be true to yourself and write from your heart. This will show Dartmouth how you spend time wondering and what truly interests you. 

Option D

“Celebrate your nerdy side.” (250 words or less)

Ultimately, this prompt is asking you to explain what brings out your inner nerd! “Nerd” is being used as a very positive description, so be honest!  

First, you should ask yourself the following:

  • What does being a nerd mean to you? 
  • Do y? 
  • Who do you do things that you consider “nerdier” with?

Next, describe in detail what you do when feeling your utmost nerd urge! Choose one specific thing, and make it sound like it is not to miss! Do you enjoy putting jigsaw puzzles together, playing role-playing games, or vintage board games? Share how your nerdy side helped shape you into who you are today and how celebrating your nerdy side continues to help you grow (hopefully at Dartmouth!).

Option E

Do not worry if you feel that you don’t have so much to write about with this prompt. If you do not think that that sounds like you – do not choose this prompt! 

This question has two parts that you should address in your response. The first piece asks you to share what it is about you or your life that is “different.”  Essentially, what is the difference, and why is it seen as different by the world around you?

The second part of this question straightforwardly asks how embracing your “differentness” helped shape you and your view of life. Perhaps you are more empathetic to others and go out of your way to make all people feel more comfortable about being outside the mainstream. 

Once you have written about what your difference is, be sure to connect it back to who you are. For example, let’s say you were an only child raised by elderly grandparents. You should then connect this back to how you are totally comfortable with older people and know how to entertain yourself in the best of ways. Take this prompt as an opportunity to reflect on what may seem “different” helped shape the person (you!) who is applying to Dartmouth! 

Option F

This prompt is a good one for students who feel that they are more than their application conveys. Say you are a stellar student (as most Dartmouth applicants are!), but more recently found your groove or a passion that has motivated you like nothing else. Perhaps you know, down to your bones, that your goals will be reached no matter what life throws at you. Tell Dartmouth how they are the place to help you reach those goals! This is the time to be as honest and sincere as you can. Doing so will shine through, and maybe the person reading your essay will realize that you are right!

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: 

  • Email 
  • Dartmouth portal
  • Any Dartmouth social media accounts

For any updates to your application status! Once again best of luck to you! 

Additional resources

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

Have you completed the ACT or SAT? If you are wondering about whether or not to send your SAT/ACT scores to test optional schools, check out our guide!

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! 

Additional supplemental essay guides

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