College Essays

Dartmouth College – Supplement Prompt D.

Prompt: Dartmouth Supplement Prompt D.

Twenty years ago, the world met Harry Potter and his companions. One of the more memorable lines from the J.K. Rowling series was spoken by Albus Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” What ideas or experiences bring you joy?
Rays strike me: blue, pink, purple, incandescent, warm, sweet, free, pure. My skin tingled, and I was whirled from Hyde Park Winter Wonderland into a Bavarian village deep in the German Alps.
The strong beat pulsates through the floor, vibrating beneath my feet and up throughout my body. Laughter rings in the air.
Moving with the crowd, I’m not pushed around, only lulled forward by a natural flow.
I sit down at a bench with my cousin and look around. Grown men dancing about in ugly Christmas sweaters, lighted up with little buds of neon lights, one’s hairy chest barely covered in a Santa dress. All laughing, fooling around, not a care in the world.
On the stage, a singer’s radiant voice floods the tent with Bavarian folk music, a golden mug of beer in hand.
I order a Gluhwein, the liquid warmth bursting in my stomach, kindling my spirit.
This worldly abandon. Surrender to freedom. Relinquishment of sense.
Scenes of total freedom like these, they stroke, tickle my soul as softly as warm shower water, they bring forth the purest form of joy.
The eleutheromaniac inside me is satisfied.
Just a few more moments of observance…then, there it is. Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit. I, too, let go.
Der Gemütlichkeit. That beautiful, uniquely German word. Not exactly “coziness,” nor “good cheer.” No, it’s much more. It’s belonging, acceptance, leaving your troubles at the door.
As is tradition, I stand up with my mug, sway along to the tune, toast with everyone at the table, and chug.
I smile at the strangers—no, friends—around me. United in our freedom.
Freedom. Uninhibited. Joy.

Tips for Writing: Don’t be afraid to be unconventional. Prompts such as these—those that are more artistic and reflective as opposed to the formulaic “Why ___ University?”—are a great opportunity for you to finally define who you are outside of grades, extracurriculars and your potential relationship to the university. In other words, this is ONLY about you, your emotions, your thoughts, your passions. Let sincere feeling guide you and don’t think about what anyone else, especially AO’s, will think of your words. These are prime opportunities for you to show a thoroughly unique side of you, whether it’s a love for travel, learning languages, photography, aviation, or WWII. Whether or not the reader will feel a connection to this unique side of you is entirely up to luck, so don’t waste time trying to preemptively please a faceless AO!

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