Dartmouth Supplement Essay

Answering Dartmouth’s 2017 writing supplements

Dartmouth’s writing supplement requires that applicants write brief responses to two supplemental essay prompts as follows:

Please respond in 100 words or less:

While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, uttered 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 2022, what aspects of the College’s program, community, or campus environment attract your interest?

Admissions officers look favorably upon applicants who can articulate a course of action and are willing to set personal goals. While Dartmouth understands that your aspirations and interests will change over four years, they still want to hear how the college will ultimately benefit you (and what you can bring to the college). Don’t shy away from lofty goals and outcomes, but also be specific in describing how you plan to get there and most importantly how Dartmouth will help.

Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250 – 300 words:

A. In Love Medicine, author Louise Erdrich ’76 writes, “Society is like this card game here, cousin. We got dealt our hand before we were even born, and as we grow we have to play as best as we can.” Describe your “hand” and reflect on how you have played it.

Admission officers understand that where applicants come from define who they are and influence who they will be at college. They want to be sure that the students they admit will make a positive impact on the campus community. Colleges wants to cultivate a diverse and accepting society of their own. How will your personality add to this? What experiences from your past are indicative of your time to come at Dartmouth?

B. From songs and film to formulae and computer code, human expression and discovery take many forms. How do you express your creativity? What ideas or values do you explore and celebrate when your imagination wanders?

For more creative minds, this question might be for you. It’s very much open-ended, so be careful not to let your answer wander off in many different directions. Answers here could refer to an aspect of your own personal identity or upbringing.

C. During the 2016 Olympic Games, American runner Abbey D’Agostino ’14 collided with another athlete in the first round of the 5,000-meter event. Both fell to the track. Although injured, Abbey’s first instinct was to help the other fallen athlete so they could continue the race together. Their selflessness was widely praised as the embodiment of the Olympic ideal of sportsmanship. Share a moment when kindness guided your actions.

An act of kindness may have come from you or a person around you. The important thing here is to describe how the act “guided your actions” – how did it alter your perspective? What have you learned as a result? Acts of kindness can be both big and small.

D. Twenty years ago, the world met Harry Potter and his companions. One of the more memorable lines from the J.K. Rowling series was spoken by Albus Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” What ideas or experiences bring you joy?

Here is your chance to either reinforce something you’ve already written about – and give it a more emotional or sincere response – or write about something that you’ve yet to highlight. Perhaps you love baking cookies with your cousins but you didn’t find a place to write about it in other aspects of your application – here is the place to do it! The substance of your response often has greater importance than the topic you choose.

E. “I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your intellectual curiosity.

This questions helps reveal a student’s intellectual vitality and affords you an opportunity to get deep into what makes your brain happy. Think about what you’re curious about, what makes you think twice. How do you hope to apply this to your time at Dartmouth?

F. “Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams,” television producer Shonda Rhimes ’91 told graduating seniors during her 2014 Commencement address. “It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” What inspires your hard work? What matters to you and how do you “make things happen” to create change?

This is a big question, so let’s take it step-by-step. First, try and focus on an issue that connects with personal and/or academic interests that you’ve described throughout your application. Showing a clear connection between the two is important. Highlight an experience where you got something done. Remember, with only 300 words at your disposal, Dartmouth does not expect a full-fledged breakdown and solution regarding issue at hand. Focus on the Dartmouth experience and what courses, organizations and/or opportunities might help bridge the gap between your interest in the problem and a solution. This will help reveal a high level of critical thinking.


For students targeting the Ivy League this fall, be sure to check out how our team of former admissions officers can help support you throughout the process. Our counselors have previously worked in admissions at Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.

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Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school, is found tucked away in rural Hanover, New Hampshire. Established in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, Dartmouth is the ninth oldest institute of higher education in the United States.

Engaging with nature is a critical part of the Dartmouth experience: In addition to featuring elm trees littered throughout the campus, the college owns its own ski slope, and the vast majority of entering freshmen participate in a four-day outing trip before they start the school year.


With only 4,300 undergraduate students, Dartmouth College is the smallest Ivy League school, and fosters a tight knit, liberal arts college type of environment dedicated to undergraduate education. Over 60% of students participate in Greek life, which is partially due to the rural, isolated nature of the campus.


Dartmouth College is ranked 11th in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings, and boasts an acceptance rate of 10.4% for its Class of 2021, with 20,034 applicants. Famous alumni include media personalities such as Mindy Kaling, authors such as Dr. Seuss and Robert Frost, and current Senators such as Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and John Hoeven (ND).


Dartmouth College accepts either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. In addition to the universal essay prompt, Dartmouth requires two separate supplemental essays. The prompts may seem daunting at first, but we here at CollegeVine are here to help you tackle these essays to the best of your ability!


Dartmouth College Application Essay Prompts


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