April Showers Bring... A Ton of Visitors on Campus

by Yuna Kim | 3/27/19 2:05am

It’s the last week of March, and you know what that means. High school seniors across the globe are eagerly awaiting notifications from their dream schools, which, for many, include an institution or two in the Ivy League. As teenagers everywhere repeatedly refresh their inboxes this Thursday, they will inevitably receive the fateful message determining their futures for the next few years: the unparalleled excitement of a “Congratulations!” or the let-down of a “We regret to inform you…” paired with an unfulfilling statement about “an increasingly competitive applicant pool.”

As this momentous day is now just days away, and all the craze that follows also looms, spring is undoubtedly a hectic time of year for Dartmouth’s admissions office. With the sudden — albeit expected — influx of students visiting our dear old Dartmouth comes an increase of tours and information sessions run by the Dartmouth admissions team, each packed with prospective freshmen and other high schoolers on spring break. 

However, it’s not just McNutt Hall that is bustling during these early spring months. The Dartmouth Dimensions team, a student group that welcomes the prospective ’23s, is also hard at work preparing a great impression, and an even better surprise, for the visitors. 

Donovan Fernandes ’21, who was on the Dimensions team last spring, shared that the members of this year’s group are devoting over five hours a week individually with the goal of wowing prospective ’23s, or as they adoringly call these students, “prospies.” 

According to Fernandes, the effectiveness of the Dimensions programs stems from its strong sense of purpose and direction.

“Dimensions is so important because it shows prospective students a really unique, fun and spirited side of Dartmouth that you can’t ever really experience through general tours or Powerpoint presentations,” Fernandes said.  

Tour guides also play a pivotal role in showing the ’23s that Dartmouth could be the perfect home for them over the next four years and can be an incredibly powerful part of a student’s college visit, according to tour guide Rachel Kent ’21.

“When I visited Dartmouth my junior year, I really knew nothing about the school, other than that it was in the Ivy League,” Kent said. “The reason I’m actually here years later is because of my tour guide, whose passion and enthusiasm about her sense of place here at Dartmouth was extremely contagious for me.”

Simon Ellis ’20, also a tour guide, shared what he thought was particularly notable about Dartmouth’s tours as opposed to those of other elite institutions. His observation involves mention of the admissions office’s switch from a fact-based tour to an anecdote-based tour, which means that rather than reciting memorized facts about the school, tour guides are now encouraged to share personal stories they’ve accumulated throughout their own Dartmouth journeys that relate to different spots they visit during the tour. 

“The switch from a fact-based tour to the anecdotal style allows us as tour guides to connect with prospective students on a much deeper level,” Ellis said. “I think the admissions office is trying to demonstrate that our tours aren’t just scripted shows like it might be at other colleges, but that it’s just really honest reflections of individuals’ own amazing experiences at Dartmouth.”

In an attempt to sway prospective ’23s toward the College on the Hill, however, it’s important to keep in mind that painting a utopian, idealistic picture of Dartmouth isn’t at all what the admissions office is striving for. According to Kent, all those who work in McNutt — tour guides especially — are encouraged to provide as honest a portrayal of the school as possible.

“In tour guide training, we do ‘tough questions training’ as preparation for difficult questions we are often asked on tours that are never easy to answer,” Kent said. “However, it would be disingenuous to simply brush these questions aside, so we as tour guides try our best to paint a complete picture of Dartmouth and address how the school is working hard to address serious issues that many college campuses face.”

In recent years, Dartmouth admissions has seen great success, with undergraduate admissions applications for the Class of 2023 reaching a record number of 23,641, an increase of 7.3 percent over last year’s count. Furthermore, the acceptance rate for the Class of 2022 was 8.7 percent, the lowest the College has ever seen. 

In reflection on his own college application process, Isaac Hanover ’22 shared what compelling features of Dartmouth led him to apply. 

“Dartmouth is obviously known for having great professors and stellar academics, but what was a really big draw for me was the strong alumni network they mentioned during the information session,” Hanover said. “In today’s world, a big part of life is who you know, so I think having such a strong alumni base with people who will always support you in the name of school pride in an incredible asset to have.”

After being accepted during the regular decision admissions cycle, Hanover attended Dimensions, which, according to him, played a decisive role in his committing to Dartmouth.

“Coming to Dimensions, I had some preconceived notion that kids here wouldn’t really care about the incoming freshmen much,” Hanover said. “When my Dimensions host brought me along to meet his friends, though, I was struck by how friendly and welcoming they were to me, which made me feel like Dartmouth could really be my home. I decided to commit the next day.”

As the big decision release day rolls around for 23s and April appears just around the corner, Dartmouth actively prepares for its next wave of visitors, and with them, those individuals who will comprise the next generation of our community.