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The Dartmouth
May 29, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

This year’s Dartmouth Bound program sees over 50% increase in participants

Around 140 rising high school seniors visited the College to learn more about it.

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From July 16 through July 19, Dartmouth Admissions hosted approximately 140 rising high school seniors at the College through the annual Dartmouth Bound program. Dartmouth Bound’s website explains that the program gives participants an “in-person experience of daily college life,” and is open to students currently living and attending a high school in the U.S., regardless of citizenship status. The program has grown by over 50% this year, compared to last year’s 85 participants, explained Paul Sunde, Director of Undergraduate Admissions.

While the program’s application is open to all students, it is designed for those from underrepresented backgrounds and communities — including students of color, students who may be the first in their families to attend college and students from low-income families — according to the program’s website. Dartmouth covers the cost of transportation, the cost of the program itself and the cost of housing and meals while participants are on campus, Sunde explained. 

“We see Dartmouth Bound as a valuable opportunity to introduce Dartmouth to prospective students as they are considering their college options and thinking about how to present themselves to Dartmouth and other colleges and universities via their applications,” Sunde said.

Programming includes an introduction to academic and community life at Dartmouth through attending classes with Dartmouth professors and meeting with current students and staff members who offer support for students. Participants are offered an array of perspectives to help them answer the question, “Is Dartmouth a good fit for me?” Sunde explained. Participants also attend college application workshops and sessions about financial aid, as well as spend time with fellow participants in hopes of developing lasting relationships.

Dartmouth Bound was founded in 1991 by Gary Love ’76, after he observed a “particularly tough year” when the number of students of color that matriculated to the College was not up to standard. After speaking with the admissions office, Love concluded that if prospective students could see the “beauty” of Hanover, then the College could do a better job of recruiting students. Still close with his high school, Kenwood Academy, a public school in the South side of Chicago, Love approached them with a plan.

“I went to [Kenwood] and I said, ‘look, if you could identify your top students, I would be willing to fly a cohort up to Dartmouth in the fall to see the place,’” Love said. “So, they gave me a list of 12 names, and I flew 12 students to Hanover over 30 years ago.”

The next year, four of “Gary’s Kids,” as they were called at the time, enrolled at Dartmouth, and since then, the program has been steadily growing over decades, Sunde explained. This year, with the pandemic now officially over, it was time to expand the program.

“Dozens of current students and hundreds of alumni started their Dartmouth journeys as Dartmouth Bound participants,” Sunde explained. “Throughout its history, Dartmouth Bound has benefited from Gary’s engagement and support; for both we are sincerely grateful.”

Love explained that he had two main goals when starting the program over 30 years ago. The first was to show his love of Dartmouth to prospective students, a place he deems worthy of the “best and brightest” students available in the minority community. The second of Love’s goals was to show participants that they were “worthy” of an Ivy League education.

“I wanted all of them to go to Dartmouth, obviously, but I also wanted them to know that they should look at the highest level of academics to pursue their career,” Love said.

Sunde explained that admission to the program is “highly selective” and that this year’s applicants were impressive by every measure. 

“We are looking for a track record of strong academic rigor and performance, curiosity, depth of engagement in the areas of interest to the applicant, compassion, meaningful investment within their home [and] school communities and a desire and demonstrated capacity to engage with and positively contribute to the experience of their peers during and after the program,” Sunde said.  

For Love, a program like Dartmouth Bound is “integral” for the College to “raise student equality” given the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down affirmative action.

“I’m interested as we go forward in the new political environment that we’re in, where affirmative action is no longer available to us, how we’ll do, but I think that the College and the new president have talked about [how] a diverse class is still something at the top of their list — it’s certainly at the top of my list,” he said. “I am hopeful that Dartmouth Bound continues to be a part of that strategy.”

Chidera Duru ’25, a Dartmouth Bound leader who supervised and advised a group of 15 participants, wanted to take part in the program to show participants the unique opportunities present at the College. 

“Because of the barriers of wealth and privilege, some people aren’t even able to find what [environment] works for them,” Duru said. “We want them to know that you can do this, you belong … not just at Dartmouth, but at a broad range of schools that are like this.”

Duru explained that the programming during the day and talking with student leaders afterward creates “a link” to help participants visualize what attending the College looks like. 

Sofia Alfaro, a Dartmouth Bound participant and a rising senior from Durham, North Carolina, explained that Dartmouth Bound was a chance for her to better understand Dartmouth.

“I haven’t really gotten a chance to see that many colleges, especially colleges that are far away from me,” Alfaro said. “So I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get to know Dartmouth.” 

Elizabeth Buduen, another bound participant and a rising senior from Miami, Florida, felt similar about her interest in the program.

“I feel like you can only see the community aspect and the way that the campus and professors come together to create an educational experience by being there and really experiencing it yourself, and I think that's really a big part of what I got out of the Dartmouth Bound Program,” Buduen said.

Alfaro explained that her main takeaways from the program include her experience attending a mock class, talking to clubs and organizations at the resource fair to see what she could be involved in as a Dartmouth student and hearing people speak about the College’s community.

Buduen said she enjoyed how the program brought together different cultural backgrounds and experiences, in addition to providing her with “invaluable” insight into how to showcase herself in the admissions process, and an emphasis from facilitators to “pursue your passions wherever they take you.”

Buduen added that her perspective on Dartmouth changed in a “positive” way. 

“I was super interested in Dartmouth because of the values that they emphasize, but I feel like I was still definitely in the notion that universities that are in the top 20 or Ivy League sometimes tend to be portrayed in a very cold and uninviting way in their pursuit for knowledge and research,” Buduen said. “I feel like that’s kind of the opposite of what it is at Dartmouth. And so I was definitely able to see a place where people are definitely upheld, and where you can find a space for yourself where you can thrive.”