The race is on! It’s that exciting time when seniors in high school all across the country are beginning the process of narrowing in on the colleges and universities to which they will soon be applying. Although it’s not always easy, or even possible, visiting prospective schools on your “short list” can be the defining factor in determining the school best suited for you. Some schools are going the extra mile (or air mile) in enticing Native students to consider their campus. Today’s article will highlight such a program, The Dartmouth Native Student Fly-In Program.
Dartmouth’s historical commitment to Indian education dates back to the very beginning of the College itself. In 1769, founders of Dartmouth College established a charter which directed that Dartmouth College exist, “for the education and instruction of youth of the Indian tribes in this land… English Youth, and any others.” When other institutions of their time were doing all they could to resist students other than those of European heritage, Dartmouth reached out to the Native American student. In 1970, during a difficult phase of time where Native communities sought fair and just treatment within white dominated society, John G. Kemeny, Dartmouth’s 13th president, pledged to redress the historical lack of opportunities for Native Americans in higher education during his inaugural address to the students, faculty, trustees and alumni. ‘The Recommitment,’ as it is often referred to, not only held Dartmouth to a higher standard than its peers, but also established the Native American Program, laid the groundwork for the Native American Studies department, and directed the Admissions Office to begin actively recruiting Native students for the first time since the founding. In the 40 years since President Kemeny’s historical address, Dartmouth’s commitment to Indian education has remained strong. Dartmouth, more than all Ivy League school combined, has graduated more than 700 of the country’s most outstanding Native students. This accomplishment is aided by the college’s innovative Fly-in program which introduces students to its historic campus.
Selected high school seniors from all over the country who have a demonstrated interest in Native community and/or Native American Studies are flown to Dartmouth and are greeted by members of the admissions staff and current Dartmouth students (some of whom are past Fly-In participants) who will offer their perspectives on Dartmouth and advice about navigating the college search and admissions process. Tours include an orientation of the Dartmouth campus and facilities, as well as specific areas of interest, including the Thayer School of Engineering. The gathering also provides to students the Native Students’ Experience Forum which is an opportunity for program participants to get an unedited view of life at the College from the perspective of Native students. Additionally, the Native Americans at Dartmouth (NAD) community dinner, held at the Native American House, provides an opportunity for the entire Native community (students, faculty and staff) to come together over a meal, introduce themselves, welcome prospective students, and informally share their experiences. Students also are provided admissions advising and a chance to review real applicants to the College as part of a mock admissions committee exercise. Further, students participate in the First-Year Experience which provides insight into the transition to College and an overview of some of the programs and resources available to students at Dartmouth.
Again, selecting a college should be a careful process of making certain your “first choice” school is one that meets your needs as both a student and a community. On campus visits provide you with a hands on, close up view of an institution that best suits your individual needs and goals that a brochure or catalog cannot duplicate. Visit the Dartmouth website at www.dartmouth.edu/admissions to find out more about this innovative program. Applications for the Native Student Fly-In program should be released soon. Hope to see you there!