Dear old Dartmouth give a rouse for the college on the hill…
After 4 years at Dartmouth, I was burnt out and ready to leave New Hampshire. It took me a while to get to the point where I could deal with going back and not thinking about all of the stuff that went haywire my senior year. With that, I got into the idea of doing alumni interviews.
My want to do interviews was two-fold: part ego, part cheerleader. I love Dartmouth, despite some of the crazy that went down there. Like most alums, I want other people to love Dartmouth as much as I did. We see ourselves in other people, and we want those people to go and have similar experiences. I have a student I work with right now who’s interested, and I can’t help but project my experience on to time, even though we have totally different likes.
The second part is pure ego – I want to be the decider. I get to hold something over someone’s head, and it feels good to a point. I have to admit, though, that the idea that I have any sway over someone’s future makes me feel a little ill to my stomach. I can barely control my future; why should I get to decide someone else’s?
Lovely Wife and I did a bunch of interviews this year. Applicants fit a general normal curve, with most of them being average – well, average for applying to Dartmouth. There are no schlubs, but you have to decide between people somehow. There were, though, a few rockstars.
You hear it all. Captain of the scuba team. Junior class assisstant historian. Saved a small migrating bird flock. Cured cancer. Professional throat singer.
All I had was valedictorian of a middle of the road high school and All-State bassoon as my major victories. I didn’t cure cancer. I could barely make a bassoon reed at that point (not much has changed). Yet, I made it in. Lovely Wife had much better credentials than I did, and that got her the early letter of “Hey, we thought you should know we’ve already picked you, no need to worry!” She got that while I was sick my stomach every day of Spring my senior year… but I’m not bitter…
Our rock star worked at a hospital, was a vital member of a large family, and did a bunch of other stuff. She was interested in medicine, and did extra things that worked towards that. Had all of the stuff that I had, plus more.
We found out she didn’t get in.
That blows my mind. Lovely Wife and I were already scheming to send her e-mails congratulating her and make sure those Princeton bastards didn’t steal her away. This rock star was more accomplished than I’ve ever been (and that includes now), yet she get rejected. Not even wait-listed.
And I got in.
There’s a tradition at Dartmouth of the newest class being called the best/brightest/fastest/most attractive/sweetest. But if we’re rejecting people like her, then they really must have a new elevated standard. I realize and accept that it isn’t just grades, and it’s a combination of things that get people in, and that in different years, you can’t equate candidates. But Jesus, even the “meh” candidates would have run circles around me.
The four years I spent in the Hinterland were some of the best in my life, despite the few bumps here and there. I met my wife there, most of my best friends, and I figured out how to tap a keg upside down and blindfolded. I wouldn’t have traded those years for anything.
I’m just glad that in 2002, I was bright/smart/sweet enough to get in.