Friday, October 30, 2009

Go Green: Environmental Sustainability at Dartmouth

Dartmouth has a long history of being "green" and in recent years the College community has done some impressive work related to clean energy and sustainability.

Dartmouth's Office of Sustainability works on a number of programs to help make Dartmouth more environmentally friendly. Environmental projects at Dartmouth include:

  • The Big Green Bus, a Dartmouth student led effort to convert a bus to waste-vegetable fuel and drive cross country teaching communities about alternative energy.
  • The Sustainable Living Center, a residential community where students commit to reducing their carbon footprint through a number of efforts.
  • Sustainable Move-Out and Move-In, a program that recycles dorm furniture, clothes, and other student supplies.
  • The Dartmouth Organic Farm, a working farm where students can work, take classes, or learn on their own about sustainable agriculture.
  • Farm-to-Dartmouth, helping give student access to locally produced foods in Dartmouth's dining halls.
  • Dartmouth has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.
Some other really important and interesting ways the College demonstrates its commitment and creativity when it comes to sustainability are:
Beyond simply programs to improve sustainability on campus, Dartmouth researchers (both professors and students) are developing new technologies to help improve energy use. Projects include research on cellulosic ethanol technology at the Thayer School of Engineering, the GreenLite project that is now being formed into a business to market this effective conservation tool, and other research projects in Environmental Studies and departments across campus.

How do you think Dartmouth is doing with sustainability? The College can continue to do more, but I'm impressed by all the programs students, staff, and faculty are undertaking to help the environment.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I heart affinity housing.

Tonight I am joining a group of students and faculty at the Sustainable Living Center (SLC) for dinner (all local & organic - yum!) and then movie showing of Food Inc. followed by discussion. The SLC -- the newest of Dartmouth's many affinity housing options -- is a student initiative designed for students looking for an eco-conscious housing alternative. Members of the SLC learn how to reduce their environmental impact by minimizing energy inputs and waste outputs. They have a food co-op (buying many products from Dartmouth's Organic Farm and local farmer's markets) and at least once a week they host a communal dinner, discussion, or workshop.

If green living isn't your passion, there are oh so many other affinity houses to choose from! Hillel Apartments, Inter-faith Living Center, Chinese Language House, International Residence, Native American House... and many more. Even I was surprised at the length of the full list of options on the Residential Life website. Check it out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What's the deal with testing?

I give Information Sessions at least once a week and it seems the most common questions I get are related to testing, typically from the parents. Clearly, families put a great deal of emphasis on testing. We do require that students submit SAT or ACT scores and we certainly look at them, but I always wish families (especially the prospective students themselves) would ask more about non-test, non-GPA, non-number based parts of the application.

Testing is just one piece of the application and I'd guess it's the best understood part (you can find pretty much everything you need to know online). Why is it that families come all the way to Hanover, NH to ask me about the SAT? Remember, testing is just one of many things we consider.

If you're going to stress about your college application, stress about how you can positively contribute to your community, not about how you can improve your test scores. At least then others will benefit from your stress. I hope that future posts to this blog will help prospective students, families, and their counselors better understand what's happening in the minds of the people reading these applications.

What do you think about testing? Really...I would love to hear your thoughts! Comment away!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just for fun...

As application deadlines rapidly approach, I thought it would be nice to post something fun for those of you who could use a little stress relief. I'm a big fan of the book World War Z, and if you want a different way of comparing colleges and universities, my suggestion is to go to the World War Z website and use their Risk Calculator to determine how likely you would be to survive a Zombie attack depending on where you go to college. Is the US News and World Report going to start ranking colleges based on Zombie preparedness? Probably not. Would I buy a college ranking guide that did, even though I already graduated from college? You bet.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dartmouth Olympians

I have spent most of the past two weeks traveling in Canada with the "Ivy Plus" group -- admissions officers from other Ivy League schools, plus Stanford. As a form of light-hearted competition, we admissions representatives started trying to one up each other with fun facts about our schools, often centered around color (really, how can brown compete with green?) or the number of athletes/medalists we had in the recent Olympic games. I know Dartmouth always has a great showing at the Olympics -- in fact, I have a trip planned to the Winter Games in Vancouver this February to see several of my Dartmouth classmates compete in skiing & biathlon! However, I had never researched the full extent of our Olympic presence until prompted by the friendly rivalries from peers. The stats below are pretty impressive. Go Big Green!

From "Ask Dartmouth":
Has Dartmouth had a strong presence in the Olympics over the years? What is the medal tally of Dartmouth Olympians?

Dartmouth has a long and distinguished Olympic history, dating back a century to when Arthur B. Shaw 1908 won a bronze medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the Games of the Fourth Olympiad in London in 1908.

Over the years, Dartmouth has sent nearly 150 representatives to the Games, including all but one Summer Olympics since 1908 and every Winter Olympics since the winter Games was founded in 1924. Among the Big Green’s notable Olympians are Dominic Seiterle ’98, who won a gold medal rowing for Canada at the 2008 Games in Beijing; Adam Nelson ’97, who won the silver medal in shot put at the 2000 and 2004; four-time Olympian Cammy Myler ’92, who competed in luge; and Carlie Geer ’80, the first Dartmouth woman to medal, taking the silver in crew at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Dartmouth’s Olympic roster also includes 12 coaches, in sports including skiing, kayak, basketball, diving, and ice hockey.

As for the medal count: through 2008, Dartmouth athletes have claimed 20 gold, 21 silver, and 12 bronze medals.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

College Fair for LGBT & Ally Students

From the road: I represented Dartmouth at the Northeast Campus Pride College Fair for LGBT & Ally Students & Families on Wednesday at the Massachusetts State House. Wow, I have never attended a college fair held in a state house before, but what a cool space! Campus Pride hosted the event in partnership with Friends of GLBT Youth, Inc. The coordinators estimated that over 200 students came through the fair, along with parents, teachers, and other mentors. I'll be attending the East Coast Fair at the LGBT Community Center in NYC on November 6. Check out more information about the fairs and resources available through Campus Pride. These are great programs for prospective LGBT and ally students.

There is no formula

I had another one of those Admissions-and-life-collide moments tonight during a conversation with one of my housemates this evening. We discussed how there is no formula for most of the important decisions we make… relationships, friendships, choosing a major, starting – or leaving – a career, etc. The best we can do is use the information we have at the time, and follow our heart.

It is reassuring to me to realize that the way we make decisions in a holistic individualized admissions process is exactly the same way we make the toughest decisions in our personal lives. There is no magic formula, no checklist, no clear instructions “if x, then y.” Instead, we collect information (transcripts, recommendations, essays, etc.), thoughtfully analyze these components and the whole that they form, and make the best decision we can with the information we have, and our intuition.

This process may be nebulous, imperfect, frustrating at times, and yet, it is the system we rely on for the decisions that matter most. Often times – in life and in admissions – I wish that decisions could be more clear-cut. But if a simple formula cannot do justice to the complexity of my life decisions, how could I trust it to determine admissions decisions?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Live @ the Hop

Since Hanover is a small town, many of the prospective students that I meet are surprised to learn that we have one of the best performing art centers in the country. That's the beauty of Dartmouth - its not about choosing small town life over city life - its about recognizing the opportunity to spend four years in a place where the resources are not a reflection of population density. The result? An incredibly dynamic place where you can have moments like these:

For more information on the Hopkins Center for the Arts, check out their website here.