14 Days of Love Day 7: The Journey to Falling in Love with my Dream School

Bella Martin, Editor-in-Chief

3,982. That is the number of colleges and universities in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With such a wide variety of schools that offer countless majors, extracurriculars and opportunities for students, the journey to finding the perfect college can be difficult and overwhelming.

When I began my college search, I sat and wrote down three words: rigor, flexibility and opportunity. I told myself that every school I applied to had to incorporate these values in some way. I knew that I wanted a school that provided a rigorous education but that also gave the flexibility for students to engage in opportunities throughout the school’s community. Aside from the academic and extracurricular aspects of the school, I also knew that I wanted to stay on the East Coast and preferably go to a school in the Northeast. After months of searching, I came across the school that I knew would allow me to fulfill my utmost potential: Dartmouth College. 

The first thing that attracted me to this school was the D-Plan, Dartmouth’s unique curriculum. With only a few guidelines and requirements, the curriculum allows students to schedule their classes and breaks around their own interests. The curriculum encourages individuality among students, which is something that I really admire. As a freshman, students are required to take courses on campus during the fall, winter and spring quarters. However, as sophomores, juniors and seniors, students are encouraged to enroll in study abroad programs or partake in internships in other places. I have always known that I wanted to study abroad in the United Kingdom at some point in college, so finding a school with a curriculum and programs that encourage this dream drew me further to Dartmouth. 

The curriculum is rigorous but also accommodates the opportunities and extracurriculars the world offers students. In other words, Dartmouth’s curriculum satisfied all three of the essential values that I was searching for in a school. 

The D-Plan also allows me to bridge my passions in history, gender studies and journalism. At Dartmouth, I have the opportunity to enroll in courses such as Immigration and Racialization in the Making of the United States and Gender and European Society from Antiquity to the Reformation while also writing for the school’s newspaper, The Dartmouth, to contribute to the school’s community. 

Outside of academics, the school also provides a multitude of extracurriculars. Situated between the Green Mountains in Vermont and White Mountains in New Hampshire, I knew that the Dartmouth campus would satisfy my hobbies of hiking, running and being outdoors. The school really emphasizes the importance of spending time in nature, and they have an Outing Club, which coordinates hiking and camping trips. 

Even with all of this research, I was not convinced that Dartmouth was the perfect school for me until I visited. In September of my senior year, my mom and I went on a college road trip to see three different schools. We flew to Connecticut and spent time touring Yale University. We then drove to Providence, Rhode Island to visit Brown University. After a day in Providence, we drove to Hanover, New Hampshire to see Dartmouth. On the drive to Dartmouth, the scenery in the region was breathtaking, and I have never felt as calm as I did then. 

Since Hanover is such a small town, there is only one street that visitors can drive through. Main Street is filled with the cutest mom-and-pop diners, little boutiques and school stores. Before officially touring the school, my mom and I went on an early-morning run. It was at this time that I knew Dartmouth was the perfect school for me. The crisp air, beautiful mountains, evergreen trees and buzzing campus settled every nerve I had about this part of the college application process.

On the run, I crossed major landmarks on Dartmouth’s campus and envisioned myself making memories at every single one, something that I had not been able to do at any other school I previously toured. I envisioned myself studying for European history classes at Baker Library, working out at the enormous fitness center, eating fresh pie at Lou’s Diner and having picnics with friends on the Green.

My college visit convinced me that Dartmouth was the school for me, and it solidified my decision to apply there Early Decision. After months of waiting, I found out that I was accepted to the Dartmouth Class of 2026. A wave of relief, satisfaction, excitement, apprehension and gratitude immediately hit me, and in opening and reading the acceptance letter, I was transported back to that early September morning run in the crisp New Hampshire air that altered my life forever. 

To all the juniors and seniors that may still be searching for that perfect school, I promise that you will find it. It may take a few deferrals or rejections, sleepless nights and breakdowns, but I know that there is a school out there for everyone. A school that fulfills your complete potential. A school that makes your heart race as you dream about it. A school that will support your desires and aspirations. A school that means what Dartmouth means to me.