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Dartmouth College - Comments and Student Experiences |
I first found out about Dartmouth through a research paper I wrote for Ap US History in my junior year of high school. I didn't think anything of it until they sent me an invitation to visit the school over the summer. I only went because it was free. Basically it was a program to sell Dartmouth to bright students who may not have been considering it.
Out of the 5 colleges (yes only 5) to which I applied I got accepted to Carnegie Mellon, Dartmouth, and the CUNY Honors program at Queens. Ultimately I chose Dartmouth because most of the people I asked for advice said the expense would pay off. Also as a nerdy, black, low SES student I had the schema that attending an Ivy was the ultimate accomplishment. Add to that the need to escape a lonely and hostile environment and you have a mistake in the making!I arrived at Dartmouth believing that my race and SES would not affect (at least not negatively) my experiences at D (in high school most of my friends were white or Asian, not by choice though). I could not have been more wrong. As a student on financial aid I had to do work study to make ends meet. See D's financial aid requires that you earn money even during your leave term. The amount you are required to earn for example during the summer before your matriculation is the amount of money you report in your savings regardless of how long it actually took you to earn that money.
Additionally, you are expected to earn money during your leave terms. What this means is that you have to pay for the school even during the ten weeks each school year you are not there. Dartmouth is not the only private institution to do this but it is still a problem. This means you can't do the unpaid internship over your freshman summer, unless of course you are rich or you worked ridiculous work study hours to save the money to cover the costs.
As part of your financial aid you will have the option of doing work study. The problem is that almost all the work study positions are menial labor jobs that actually detract from the "Dartmouth Experience" they sell you at Dimensions. Particularly aimed at low ses students, these jobs require you to be servants to your elite and condescending classmates. From my experience, the increasing hours I needed to work to meet the rising tuition cost negatively impacted my grades. The worst part about all this is that the administration is completely indifferent to this issue. There isn't even an award for students who work many hours while maintaining a full course load. In fact, athletes are given more regard in this situation than student workers. It is completely outrageous.
_Their Praised Statistics don't mean...Anything
Prospective and current students may have heard stats about student participation in programs at the school like "60% of students participate in study abroad programs" or "60% of Dartmouth students join a greek house". These stats are toted around to give the impression of student satisfaction: "If so many of my peers have done it, it must be good."
Don't fall for this trap. The study abroad programs are terrible, regardless of your SES. If you are not best friends with all the people on the trip before you leave the country, you are bound to be miserable. The program completely separates you from the locals of the nation. You will not meet anyone new unless you're a skinny blonde in a low cut tank. You would probably have a stronger learning experience if you were taught the same materials in the US. Not to mention you don't have access to any of the acclaimed Dartmouth resources yet you are paying a whole lot more.
_The Alcohol...I mean social scene.
As many have already mentioned, the social scene is dominated by the frats and their extensive use of drugs and alcohol. I come from a ghetto town in NYC yet I have never even seen marijuana or cocaine until I came to Dartmouth. If you want to be social you have to drink and do other drugs. This is not an exaggeration. The only reason I had a micron of a social life was because of the black community at Dartmouth. There is an affinity house that is dedicated to the black experience that has a lot of social events including very successful parties. It does not permit drugs or alcohol on its premises. Minority students (particularly Black and native americans) are constantly criticized as being self segregated, however in my experience it has more like socially relegated. The use of drugs and alcohol have greater stigma for us than for white and Asian students yet in order to be accepted by the majority we have to drop your own culture and personality and fulfill the negative stereotypes they may harbor against us. This leads to the hardest part about my critique.
_Got Race Awareness?
Even if you are not a minority student, I implore you to read this portion because it does affect you. Now before anyone dismisses me as some anti-white black panther who is quick to label everything as racism, let me give you a little background about me. In high school, even though my school was predominantly latino (with almost equal numbers of black and white students), most of my friends were white and Asian. It wasn't by choice it was just that many of the black students seemed to have a problem with my nerdy-ness and my obvious (but closeted) queer identity. So I chose college without consideration of race. After all, all the people who had bullied and picked on me throughout my life were all black so why would I feel any animosity towards white people?
During my freshman year the school ended having to hold a rally against hate because of attacks against Native American students. I remember one time walking past my dorm during freshman family weekend only to hear a kid as his dad "Is that the ghetto gangster dorm?" During my senior year, a white student vandalized my property because of my "African-sounding name". The worst part is that when I reported it to both the dean and the campus security neither of them took the matter seriously and were unwilling to make efforts to support me.
Despite my negative evaluation of Dartmouth, I must say that out of all the professors I had I only disliked 2 or 3. Furthermore, the psychology major provides a great amount of neurology allowing those who major in psychology instead of neurology to compete.
Dartmouth is stratified primarily on SES. If you are a poor person of any race without a full ride scholarship you will be reminded of it everyday. All the clubs, programs and events will not be available to you even though you'll be charged a student activities fee. Even though Dartmouth is an Ivy League school, the short comings of it graduate school leave it on the long list of obscurity. If you think its prestige makes it worth the cost then you are wrong.
To you High School students I say this: Don't let prestige fool you into believing that it would be a blessing to get into a school. If you get accepted to an Ivy League school that means your accomplishments would serve to exalt the school not the other way around. Stats show that students who get accepted to top notch schools succeed regardless of whether they choose to attend. Bottom line: don't allow some elitist institution to devalue you and your accomplishments only to leave you living with your parents with a load of debt.I know this was long but there is still a lot more. Please feel free to email me with questions or comments, that includes those who wish to challenge my point of view.
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