May 21, 2024

How I got into Dartmouth College as a Peruvian student with fully-funded Beca Cometa Scholarship

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Maia from Peru 🇵🇪

Campus Image of Dartmouth College
How I got into Dartmouth College as a Peruvian student with fully-funded Beca Cometa Scholarship

A little about me and why I decided to study abroad

Hello! My name is Maia, I’m from Peru and so thrilled to share my story with you.

I attended San Jose Monterrico High School and graduated from there in 2022. I very much enjoyed my school experience, in which I developed most of my interests and passions. Additionally, it taught me how to manage my time correctly, since by living in a single-parent household, I was constantly busy helping my mom with some things at home.

I believe that the moment that created my desire to study abroad was when I discovered UWC, which I applied to and got rejected. What does everyone say? Rejection is redirection? That’s totally true, people!

Some time later, UWC shared “Cometa Camp”, a Peruvian program that specializes in guiding students on how to prepare to apply to some of the 9 top universities in the United States.

I couldn’t believe a program like it could exist in my country. In Cometa Camp, if admitted, I could access individual mental health support, individual college essay feedback, international exam prep, registration, and travel support, as well as monthly college application guidance ALL FOR FREE!

Even better, if admitted to one of its universities, I could become eligible to compete for one of the 20 Beca Cometa Scholarships offered each year. Beca Cometa Scholarships can cover up to the total cost of undergraduate studies for selected students for up to 4 years.

Isn’t that awesome?

Proudly, I can tell you that I was one of 65 students chosen out of 2488 Peruvian applicants to receive a spot in the Cometa Camp.

And that’s how my journey began!

Why Dartmouth?

I think that the first thing that caught my eye about this college was reading and seeing their charismatic way to engage with their community. I had the opportunity to attend an information session hosted by Dartmouth in Peru, where the university president and some alumni came here. There, I could learn a little bit more about Dartmouth as an institution and above all, as a caring community. I didn’t have a huge community feeling during high school, so I was looking for that crucial factor in college.

On the other hand, a highlight of my research moments is that professors and admission officers of Dartmouth always answered my emails! I even got some responses from Tuck, the School of Business. All the information they provided me gave me a lot of insight about their government program and the possibility of combining it with economics, which really appealed to me.

Furthermore, I’m very interested in Greek Life and Dartmouth has so many student group organizations and clubs. I was very excited about the stand-up comedy club, the poetry club and the Investment club as well. While researching each one of those, I just couldn’t wish for anything else than being admitted and satisfying all my well-rounded passions with these opportunities.

Finally, by being in the middle of the woods, of course, I was so enchanted by their outing and swimming club! I love Dartmouth's interest in outdoor activities. I was looking for a school where everything was not based on studying and staying in a room, but exploring the surroundings as well.

Stats and extracurricular activities

I graduated first from my class and submitted a GPA of 18.5 out of 20. Moreover, I got 117 out of 120 in the TOEFL iBT and applied with a 1440 SAT (690 in Reading & Writing and 750 in Math).

Regarding my extracurricular activities, the first I listed was a course about discrimination and culture in Peru that I took in the Ministry of Culture. There, I did a project to represent Peruvian traditions and lifestyle and got one of the highest marks, which resulted in the Ministry of Culture inviting me to be a volunteer in an anti-racism campaign. After that experience, I presented a research program about the different types of discrimination, its impacts and how they intersect.

Secondly, I took part in investment competitions during high school, sometimes being a team-member and others, the leader. Basically, my team and I participated in mock market events, distributing half a million dollars in funds to diverse Peruvian companies.

Furthermore, I did MUN three times in my high school career, earning some awards such as best position paper and outstanding delegate. Then, I mentored some students in my school during their MUN participation.

I also belonged to the theater club (I’m obsessed) for five years and was a student representative of my school to attract new families.

My essays

Writing my essays was not an easy thing to do! While brainstorming for my personal statement, the very first idea I had was to write about impactful moments of my life. That’s when my parents’ divorce came up and became a crucial part of my essay as I focused on highlighting how it made me grow as a person. Still, I was not entirely satisfied with the topic since it’s a very common one among personal statements.

However, inspiration suddenly came when I was going to a university fair. I was in my car and wrote the idea immediately. I had found a way to make it different from anyone else, to add that spicy element that defines me.

In this essay, I focused on the power of my voice, how impactful it could be when used in the right way to lead a team, demonstrate love, and even forgive. I described my voice at different “volumes” and how it had helped me in many situations of my life, including my parent’s divorce. In each paragraph, I told an anecdote important to my personal development and in each one, my volume grew. Furthermore, I added that my volume would increase at Dartmouth, which was a very special detail at the ending of my personal statement.

Regarding my supplemental essays, they were indeed easier to write. I think that was another sign of how much I really liked Dartmouth. There’s a prompt that asked me to introduce myself, so I did as if my name was a noun described in a dictionary. I explained my personality traits, how people see me, my career interests, my talents, and passions. I was just truly sincere about myself as a friend, peer and person and how values matched with those of Dartmouth.

Another supplemental asked me to write about something that excites me. Firstly, I was thinking of writing why I desire to study government modified with economics yet it didn’t feel very genuine. So, I just decided to write about that thing that makes me lose the sense of the time: baking. I found a way to tell Dartmouth how much I enjoy baking and how it makes me engage with people.

Finally, I was quite more formal in my Why us essay, which I found harder because I couldn’t summarize everything I loved about Dartmouth in 100 words. I mentioned some classes, professors, programs, and clubs.

Time and resources

I took a gap year to apply to college since I got into the Cometa Camp after graduating from high school. Honestly, most of the resources that were useful in my application process were given by Cometa and its community; for instance, proofreading my essays with my fellow campers made such a difference in them. Furthermore, I used Reddit and Collegevine to get inspiration for my essays.

Finally, I’m beyond proud and thrilled to announce that I was selected as a Beca Cometa Scholarship recipient, so I'll be able to study at Dartmouth for free! This scholarship covers tuition, housing, food, insurance, a laptop, additional expenses and a plane ticket to come back to Peru during vacations

My tips

  • Don’t do activities just because they are going to look “nice” in your profile. It’s easy to tell whether a student is committed or not with a cause, club, or community. If you are lacking some extracurriculars to list, focus on gathering some that are career-oriented, so you’ll get expertise and also enjoy them. Also, improve the ones you already have.

  • Make a list of priorities. The application process requires us a lot to do: SAT, TOEFL, essays, activities, gather recommenders and make even optional videos. Doing everything at the same time will just result in an overwhelming feeling and burnout. Therefore, I highly recommend establishing deadlines and focus on some of these tasks distributed in our available time. 

  • Appreciate your random, unique insight moments when you get an essay idea. If you are about to sleep, if you are washing the dishes or in the public transport, hold those ideas as a treasure and write them down so then you don’t forget. If possible, start developing your idea right there in a document or a paper. Just write them down! Believe me, it is not the same if we try to recall them hours or days after.

  • If you need to improve your English skills, spending thousands of dollars on private tutors is not the only solution. In my case, during the pandemic, I made English native speakers online friends who taught me English as I taught them Spanish, and that helped me to improve a lot in the language! Also, one of my friends had a news Twitter account and I used to help her to write many of the articles, which enhanced my writing skills as well. Just try to network a little and your life will be changed.

  • Use essays to show who you truly are and your purpose. It’s always good to match your values with those of the universities of your interest.

I hope you got entertained with my story! From Peru to Dartmouth!

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from Peru 🇵🇪

Duration of Study

Sep 2024 — May 2028


Government modified with economics

Learn more ->
Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College

Hanover, US🇺🇸


✍️ Interview by


Abril from Peru 🇵🇪

Gap year student interested in politics

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