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Dartmouth and More Great Colleges for the Outdoorsy Intellectual

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Aysha Wong College Coach

Written by Aysha Wongon June 27th, 2023

I started my career as a freshman admissions counselor at the University of Florida, where I grew my passion for higher education while recruiting students and evaluating applications from the three largest counties in the state. I also took on the challenge of leading the planning and execution of large-scale recruitment and yield events targeting underrepresented and underserved student populations. I sought out opportunities to expand my knowledge as an assistant director of admission focused on international admission. In that role, I recruited and evaluated both undergraduate and graduate applications for students applying from all regions of the world. I also created and optimized our international student recruitment and yield strategies while collaborating closely with the international student services office, Graduate School, and academic graduate departments to develop admission policies and guidelines that best served students of all backgrounds. Although I have worked with students from every corner of the world, my specific interest and focus included students from Latin America and the Caribbean. I also served on the university student petitions committee, the admission rescind committee, and the admission merit scholarship committee during my time at the University of Florida.
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by Aysha Wong, former admissions officer at University of Florida Home to the oldest outing club in the country, its own organic farm, and a distinctly eco-friendly energy, Dartmouth College is your quintessential rural campus. Located in the small college town of Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth offers its 4,458 undergraduate students more than just a world-renowned education, it also offers them a tightknit campus community steeped in rich history and a tradition of thinking beyond the confines of the immediate environment. For students who value connection, not just to nature, but to their community and the principles that drive learning, Dartmouth can be an attractive place to spend four years. But as we are all well aware, finding your way into the Dartmouth community is no easy feat. In 2023 Dartmouth admitted just 6% percent of their freshman applicant pool and with selectivity on the rise at many schools, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you craft a balanced college list. To achieve this balance, you might be interested in applying to additional colleges that offer a similar atmosphere and set of opportunities as Dartmouth, but whose selectivity creates room for confidence in the admissions process. If so, I have a few colleges I think you should consider. Bard College If you’re keen to stay in the northeast, Bard College, located on 1,000 acres of fields and forested land in New York, may be a solid choice. Dartmouth students and Bard students share a mutual desire to connect to their community and have a positive impact on the world around them. Similar to Dartmouth’s Center for Social Impact, Bard’s Center for Civic Engagement connects students with non-profits, community groups, and government agencies. Student-led initiatives, like Election@Bard and Voice for Action, let students engage in important dialogue and play an active role in instituting change on their campus and beyond. So, if you’re looking for a college that places impact and action at the center of the student experience, consider adding Bard to your list. Whitman College Bard not catching your eye? Then consider Whitman College, located on the opposite coast in Walla Walla, Washington. Boasting a “1:1 student to tree ratio,” Not only does Walla Walla offer a strong sense of community and a charming main street, it’s also within driving distance to hiking and biking trails, rivers, waterfalls, and skiing. If you’re looking for the same emphasis on outdoor adventure that Dartmouth offers, Whitman may be the place for you. And when you’re not out taking advantage of the mild climate and beautiful landscapes of Southeast Washington, you’ll dive deep into the critical thought and academic rigor fostered through Whitman’s traditional liberal arts curriculum. I encourage you to consider adding Whitman to your list if your sense of adventure can only be matched by your intellectual curiosity. Oberlin College and Conservatory Heading into the Midwest, another great potential fit could be Oberlin College and Conservatory, which is located just 40 minutes outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Part liberal arts college and part conservatory, Oberlin is in the unique position to provide students with a strong liberal arts and sciences foundation and the ability to refine their creative skills and talents. But what makes Oberlin really stand out is its commitment to supporting sustainability and environmental stewardship. Oberlin faculty, staff, and students work diligently to integrate sustainability into how they live and learn on campus. Some key components of this include the green building movement, daily monitoring of energy and water usage, and Oberlin’s Farm to Fork program, which aims to source the majority of food eaten on campus from local vendors and growers. Oberlin is a great school to add to the list if you are invested in creating a positive impact on our environment. The University of the South If you’re still not sure your list is complete, let’s head back east for an introduction to my final suggestion, The University of the South, aka Sewanee, located on 13,000 acres of forests, bluffs, meadows, lakes, and caves in Tennessee. While Sewanee is nearly 115 years younger than Dartmouth, it remains home to a rich history and distinctive traditions which enhance the experience of its tight-knit student community. Ninety-nine percent of Sewanee’s undergraduate students live on campus, and you’ll find many of them taking part in the unique campus customs Sewanee is so well known for. One such custom, signing the Honor Code, dates back over 100 years and another, the Order of the Gown, gives some students the opportunity to wear an academic gown to class. If you’re looking forward to a college experience shaped by its sense of community and grounded by its past, don’t hesitate to add The University of the South to your list. While I’ve highlighted a few colleges which may make nice additions to your college list alongside Dartmouth, there are many other great options out there for you to explore. By leaning into your desire to commune with nature, connect to your community, and expand your understanding of the world, you’re ensuring you’re one step closer to your perfect college fit.

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