Boris - Dartmouth College - Class of 2009
Hometown: Cape Elizabeth ME
High School: Public
GPA: 4.0 / 4.3 (weighted)
Goal: Law School
*Writing score not included
Freshman Year Update
It took some getting used to the intensive academic work. Fall term was tough, and I found myself wondering, "Why did I choose this? What have I done?" But now I think that Dartmouth is the perfect choice for me.
I did very well academically in high school. My extracurricular pursuit was classical piano, which left little time for much else. I was sure that my high test scores and grades could get me into almost any top college. As it turned out, I had a lot to learn. I found the uncertainty involved with college admission to be extremely challenging.
Flat out for the Ivy League
I chose highly selective schools based on college rankings, guides, and recommendations from family and friends. Otherwise, I did not know exactly what I was looking for. Data on the current students at each college helped me figure out, at least on paper, where I might fit in. My counselor suggested I apply to a lot of schools and cast a wide net. I narrowed my choices down to twelve and applied to all of them, many sight unseen. I thought that all academically renowned colleges were quite similar.
Smaller turns out to be better
I was very upset not to get into Princeton, my first choice. But as I visited my accepted schools, my disappointment went away. Though a city person at heart, I was drawn by the close contact with professors and peers to be found at a small college. One can live in New York City anytime, but I believe that a true college experience, complete with lasting bonds and friendships, comes only once. Amherst was the only school that tempted me besides Dartmouth. I felt the Dartmouth campus had more in the way of social and academic options. Other campuses were quickly eliminated. When I visited urban campuses, I discovered that the city got on my nerves. Also, the classes were huge. It felt lonely on campus. In one dorm I stayed at, no one knew the names of the other students on their floor.
My ups and downs
I put off my applications until two weeks before New Years. I should have done them much earlier, but I was avoiding the stress.
Writing essays was a painful experience for me. I felt forced to lay out my whole life on a single page. I kept bumping around with different approaches and finally wrote about my roots in Russia and what that has meant to me.
I did lots of practice tests to see what the SAT was like. I did not score nearly as well on the practice tests as I did when I actually took the test.
My best moment was getting a letter from Dartmouth that said they really wanted me to attend. They send these letters to only 25% of the accepted pool. My lowest moment was when I was caught off guard by a lot of rejections from my target schools.
What I learned
Discussion forums for current college students gave me insight into how students at specific colleges spent their free time and what sort of social options were available. Also, I learned a lot from older students who were attending colleges they were happy with.
Even more than visiting during the day, staying overnight at my accepted colleges was invaluable. That shows you what the social scene is really like. Many students choose colleges with limited or no visits, instead making their choices based on guidebooks and reputation, and then get a rude awakening once they arrive on campus in the fall.
I think I did the right thing by applying to many schools, because I was targeting highly selective schools. Admissions at these schools are quite unpredictable, providing no guarantees, regardless of qualifications. It's important to include a safety school so you get in somewhere.
The money factor
My parents are paying for college, and cost was not a big factor. I am very fortunate they supported my choice to turn down a merit scholarship to Brandeis University in order to attend the college I much preferred, Dartmouth.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
Student Stories - 2016
- Ally - Ohio State University - Class of 2016
- Emma - College of William and Mary - Class of 2016
- Jess - Binghamton University - Class of 2016
- Leyth - Pomona College - Class of 2016
- Michael - Northeastern University - Class of 2016
- Molly - Vassar College - Class of 2016
- Shaquilla - Harvard College - Class of 2016
- Tlalli - Yale University - Class of 2016
- Pablo - Amherst College - Class of 2016
- Kathleen - UC Berkeley - Class of 2016
- David - Vanderbilt University - Class of 2016
Student Stories - 2015
- Brenna - Iowa State University - Class of 2015
- Candace - U. of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill - Class of 2015
- Andrew - Penn State University Park - Class of 2015
- Nick - Georgetown University - Class of 2015
- Stephen - University of Pennsylvania - Class of 2015
- Stephanie - Stanford University - Class of 2015
- Jeremy - Boston University - Class of 2015
- Amy - Hillsdale College - Class of 2015
- Maggie - UCLA - Class of 2015
- Joseph - University of Vermont - Class of 2015
Student Stories - 2014
- Alexander - U. of Colorado Boulder - Class of 2014
- Alexandra - Indiana U. Bloomington - Class of 2014
- Gabrielle - Furman University - Class of 2014
- Linda - Grinnell College - Class of 2014
- Mario - Cal Poly Pomona - Class of 2014
- Matt - Carleton College - Class of 2014
- Michael - University of Maryland - Class of 2014
- Monica - Hiram College - Class of 2014
- Obianujo - The College of New Jersey - Class of 2014
- Philip - American University - Class of 2014
- Leslie - Wesleyan University - Class of 2014
Student Stories - 2013
- Jessica - Wellesley College - Class of 2013
- Jason - Univ. of Michigan - Class of 2013
- Daniel - Yale University - Class of 2013
- Melanie - Colby College - Class of 2013
- Anthony - University of Pittsburgh - Class of 2013
- Claire - Johns Hopkins University - Class of 2013
- David - University of Chicago - Class of 2013
- Eric - UC San Diego - Class of 2013
- John - Pomona College - Class of 2013
- Umbar - Cornell University - Class of 2013
- Kira - Swarthmore College - Class of 2013
- Joelle - Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison - Class of 2013
- Mark - Union College - Class of 2013
- Uddit - U.S. Air Force Academy - Class of 2013
- Julia - University of Florida - Class of 2013
- Justin - University of Georgia - Class of 2013
- Stacy - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - Class of 2013
- Briton - Hobart College - Class of 2013
Student Stories - 2012
- Roy - Calif. Maritime Acad. / UC Irvine - Class of 2012
- Kirsten - Chapman / UC Davis - Class of 2012
- Ashley - Mount Holyoke College - Class of 2012
- Marquis - Princeton University - Class of 2012
- Pauline - Seattle University - Class of 2012
- Sundiata - Univ. of Mass. Amherst - Class of 2012
- James - Villanova University - Class of 2012
Student Stories - 2011
Student Stories - 2010
- Daniela - Bates College - Class of 2010
- Renata - Brown University - Class of 2010
- Megan - Denison University - Class of 2010
- Catlin - Harvard College - Class of 2010
- Catherine - Reed College - Class of 2010
- Matthew - Syracuse University - Class of 2010
- Danielle - UCLA - Class of 2010
- Stephanie - University of Illinois - Class of 2010
- Sam - University of Washington - Class of 2010
- Jeffrey - Washington and Lee Univ. - Class of 2010
Student Stories - 2009
Live Well and Prosper
On the road to college? Make it easier with timely tips and expert advice - free. Find out more.
Sign up today!