Mason to study at Dartmouth
Never underestimate the positive influence a book can have on a child.
In fourth grade Sarah Mason read “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” and it sparked an abiding interest in Greek and Roman mythology. Now that passion is taking her all the way to the Ivy League.
The 2019 Columbia High School graduate will be attending Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, in the fall and studying classics.
“I just want to research and write about it. It’s just so cool. I’ve always been in love with that type of thing,” she said.
Out of 23,000 applicants, she was one of about 1,000 accepted to the elite college.
“I’m still amazed,” Mason said, adding she thinks her essays and teacher recommendations helped her. “I’ve studied really hard through high school, and it’s such a great payoff to get there.”
She said her teachers and recommenders at CHS were very helpful, including choral teacher Kim Walley, chemistry teacher Shelley Putnam, government teacher Michael Novinski and guidance counselor Keri Armstrong.
Her mother, Becky Mason, said she never doubted that her daughter would achieve this goal.
“I’m very proud of her. She’s wanted this since she was in ninth grade, to go to an Ivy League. She’s a good kid, a Christian child,” Becky Mason said.
She also noted that she told her daughter she couldn’t afford $400,000 tuition and they would have to find other ways of funding her dream. That effort began when Sarah Mason was named a finalist for QuestBridge, a national college match program. Finalists can pick between 40 top universities to apply for admission, and Mason picked about a dozen, targeting the area where she wanted to attend college. She wanted to go to New England after having lived in the South and Midwest, attending school from seventh through ninth grades in North Dakota. She said she also targeted smaller schools and looked at their classics programs and faculty.
“She would look at the curriculum, and I would look at the security and the food and then I would look at their mascot,” Becky Mason said with a laugh.
It required a long application that included three recommendations and two essays, among other things, and only about 6,000 of more than 15,000 applicants were named finalists.
Mason didn’t end up getting admitted through the QuestBridge match, but she said it helped prepare her for the standard application process. She was accepted to both Dartmouth and Vassar College, a highly selective liberal arts school in New York.
It’s a 26-hour drive from Columbia to Dartmouth, so Mason plans to fly up there when school begins in September. She said living in North Dakota helped give her the courage to apply to an out-of-state college.
It won’t be her first time to visit as she stayed on the campus for several days in April as part of new-student orientation and found it not that different from Mississippi. She said Hanover is a small, college town and that Dartmouth is a tight-knit community, with less than 5,000 undergraduates enrolled, on a beautiful campus.
“It’s so nature oriented up there. The college is part of the Appalachian Trail,” she said.
Pictured Above: Sarah Mason of Columbia made up her mind in ninth grade that she wanted to attend an Ivy League school and has achieved that goal. | Photo by Charlie Smith