Bringing Dartmouth to Prospective Students
When I was a senior in high school, I thought that choosing a college was the biggest decision of my life. Maybe it was. To be honest, I hadn’t needed to make many important decisions until then. When I was trying to figure out if I could see myself at Dartmouth, I didn’t make a detailed list of pros and cons — instead, I reflected on the conversations I had during Dimensions, Dartmouth’s program for admitted students to tour and experience life on campus.
For many students, visiting Dartmouth plays an integral role in their decision to attend the College. The cancellation of in-person tours and admitted students programs for colleges across America presents a new challenge for members of the Class of 2024.
Despite the obstacles, current Dartmouth students remain determined to showcase their love for the College to prospective students, whether that’s through Instagram takeovers, virtual tours or a virtual Dimensions show.
Kristina Strommer ’22, a tour guide from Portland, Oregon, is currently living in Norwich, Vermont. Strommer has given interactive virtual tours of Dartmouth using a special, self-stabilizing selfie-stick. The camera also connects to a phone that displays chat messages so prospective students can have their questions answered live on the tour.
Virtual tours have been offered to all accepted students. In order to make the tours more accessible to prospective students and their families, tours are also offered in Spanish — a first for Dartmouth, according to Strommer. Strommer, a fluent Spanish speaker, noted that she really enjoyed giving a tour in Spanish. Additionally, some tours have been given during the early morning so that international students can tune in at a reasonable hour.
Virtual tours are similar in content to normal tours, although there are some limitations. For example, for health and safety reasons, not all campus buildings are open. However, one unique feature of these tours is the ability of the tour guides to show personal pictures to prospective students on the tour.
“I can post pictures and pull the pictures up as I’m talking. So, [the prospective students’] view can transition from a view of the Green to a view of the bonfire, for example,” Strommer said.
This feature allows tour guides to personalize their tours by incorporating memories from their own Dartmouth experience.
Strommer also participated in a virtual admitted students event for students in Oregon, where current Dartmouth students and alumni of varying ages discussed their Dartmouth experiences.
Strommer recognizes how important these one-on-one connections can be for prospective students. She said that when she was looking at colleges, it was her interactions with current Dartmouth students that led her to choose the College.
Another factor that may influence a students’ decision to come to Dartmouth is the Dimensions show, a showcase of student life performed by current freshmen during Dartmouth’s admitted students program. Ali Reynolds ’20 is one of the three seniors who helped the ’23s create the Dimensions show this year. She noted that in many of the ’23s applications for Dimensions, they cited the show as a key factor that convinced them to come to Dartmouth.
“So many of [the ’23s] said how the Dimensions show really influenced their decision to commit,” Reynolds said. “Some of them committed right after the show. I think that [the show] is a good way to get students aware of what's going on on campus and be able to see different aspects of the community that you can’t find online.”
Joe Chavez ’20, another senior who helped with the show, echoed the importance of Dimensions.
“Dimensions is really a time for the first-year students to assuage the potential fears of going to college or assumptions people may have about Dartmouth without actually experiencing it,” Chavez said. “We really tried to preserve that aspect of the show, as well as the fun and goofiness of it.”
Converting the Dimensions show to a virtual platform was a difficult task, but the ’23s were committed to recreating the experience of the show for the ’24s. Originally, the ’23s intended to film the parody songs they had created for the show as music videos. Love Tsai ’23, who was a part of the show this year, said that this original plan did not translate well virtually.
“Most people [in the show] aren’t singers, so when we tried to sing alone and then sync up the audio, it just didn’t work. People were one second too late or holding notes too long,” Tsai said. “We didn’t have the skill set to make it work properly.”
The ’23s in the Dimensions show decided to take the subjects of the songs and turn them into skits. They barely had two weeks to rework the show before presenting the final product to the prospective students. Chavez noted that the students worked hard to complete the virtual show in time.
“We had an absolutely amazing editing team that was also made up of current students, as well as the ’23s [who] were working on the show. They really took the opportunity to creatively show their love for Dartmouth and the ’24s and share it with them online,” Chavez said.
On April 25, there was a live watch party for the Dimensions show in the Dartmouth Class of 2024 Facebook group. Ian Gill ’23, who was a part of the show this year, was excited to see the energetic responses from the ’24s.
“The response was overwhelmingly positive. They really thought that it was funny and enjoyed the amount of effort we put in. Although it wasn't what past Dimensions shows have been, the ’24s definitely still enjoyed it,” Gill said.
Gill added that the show was able to offer diverse perspectives of life at Dartmouth. According to Reynolds, the skits highlighted the food, academics, social life and myths about the College.
After the show, seven ’23s stayed on to host a Q&A session for the ’24s. According to Tsai and Chavez, around 150 prospective students tuned in for the show watch party, and most of them also stayed for the Q&A which gave them a chance to hear about current students’ experiences in depth.
“[The ’24s] were very touched that [students] would spend time and effort to make something for them,” Tsai said.
There is a strong sense of community at Dartmouth, and it is clear — now more than ever — that prospective students are welcome before they even step foot on campus. As students, we know the importance of this decision.
“[Prospective students] are making a decision that will affect the next four years of their lives,” Tsai said. “If we can do anything to help make that decision easier, then we are really dedicated to doing that.”