Princeton vs. Dartmouth: Which College is Right for You?

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Princeton University and Dartmouth are both members of the ultra-prestigious Ivy League. With their stellar reputations comes a plethora of top academic faculty, resources, and opportunities. Chances are, you can’t go wrong with either school. If you’re deciding between them, here’s what you should know.

 

Learn more about Princeton and Dartmouth and see your chances of being accepted.

 

Princeton vs. Dartmouth: A Quick Overview

 

Princeton Dartmouth
Location Princeton, NJ Hanover, NH
Campus Type Suburban Rural
Undergraduate Enrollment 5,428 4,417
Acceptance Rate 5% 7.9%
U.S. News Ranking 1 12
Middle 50% SAT 1460-1570 1440-1560
Middle 50% ACT 33-35 32-35
Sticker Price $75,950 $76,623
Need-blind, no-loan, or meets 100% demonstrated need? Need-blind

No-loan

Meets 100% of demonstrated need

Need-blind

No-loan for families with income < $100k

Meets 100% of demonstrated need

 

Princeton vs. Dartmouth: A Closer Look

 

Location and Weather

 

Located in Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton is about equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia. That means that while the university is situated in a suburban town with a small population, students can still easily access larger cities on weekends. The town’s culture largely concerns the eponymous school and offers plenty to do within the small community, including arts, restaurants, and nightlife.

 

If a rural town is more your scene, Dartmouth’s Hanover is the place to be. Students can take advantage of the snowy winters and ski to their heart’s content. When the weather is more temperate, they enjoy the hiking, gardens, and lakes. A charming New England town, Hanover is also home to historic sites and plenty of museums.

 

Size

 

Princeton has 5,428 undergraduates and a student to faculty ratio of 5:1. About 74% of classes have fewer than 20 students. 

 

Dartmouth is slightly smaller, with 4,417 undergraduates and a student to faculty ratio of 7:1. Around 62% of classes have fewer than 20 students.

 

Academics

 

Princeton students may choose among 37 concentrations and 55 interdepartmental certificate programs. Some of the strongest students may apply to participate in the University Scholar Program and pursue independent work, field studies, student-initiated seminars, and exchange programs. Beginning with the freshman seminar, in which students engage with meaningful topics in small groups, students at Princeton can discover a wide range of academic interests, ultimately earning either a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) and Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E). Undergraduates must complete general education requirements, such as writing and foreign language. Generally, A.B. students must write a Junior Paper, which is an independent research project. This paper often becomes the basis of a student’s senior thesis, which is required for all A.B. students. Many engineering students also complete independent projects in their junior year, and pursue a senior thesis.

 

Dartmouth offers a unique academic calendar, called the D-Plan, with four 10-week terms per year. Within limits, you can decide which 12 terms to enroll, allowing you the freedom to work around your schedule and pursue interests away from campus. With more than 60 majors, along with the option to design your own special major, there are plenty of opportunities across a wide range of disciplines. In some cases, you can even receive funding for your leave-term. Dartmouth does have certain general education requirements, including first-year writing, physical education, Distributive and World Culture, and language.

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Housing

 

Princeton first- and second-year students are required to live on campus. Still, most students in all years choose to live on campus — 94%. Residential students live among peers from all four years, as well as some graduate students, in different types of dorm rooms, including apartment styles. Speciality housing, such as substance-free, is also available.

 

Similarly, most Dartmouth undergraduates live on campus (approximately 90%) in residence halls, approved Greek life houses, or affinity houses. First-year students live on specific first-year floors or in first-year hall clusters. All on-campus residences are meant to foster students’ academic and social lives, through living learning communities, affinity housing bringing students together over shared interests, and more.

 

Financial aid

 

While both Dartmouth and Princeton have high sticker prices upwards of $70,000, a majority of students receive some type of financial aid — about 54% at Dartmouth and 61% at Princeton. Additionally, the schools are committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial aid and are need-blind. 

 

One benefit of Princeton’s financial aid is their no-loan policy for families of all incomes. Dartmouth is no-loan only for families with incomes under $100k.

 

Neither school offers merit scholarships, but students can still receive awards from external organizations. Do bear in mind that these scholarships may affect your need-based financial aid.

 

Sports and Extracurriculars

 

The Dartmouth Big Green and Princeton Tigers both play in the Ivy League and NCAA Division 1. Dartmouth has 35 varsity sports, while Princeton offers 37. 

 

Greek life plays a large role in many students’ lives at Dartmouth, but even if that’s not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other extracurricular opportunities, from skiing to writing for the literary magazine. The Dartmouth Outing Club is the oldest collegiate outing club in the country, founded in 1909 to encourage interest in outdoor sports.

 

Dartmouth also offers numerous study abroad programs around the world, focused on language learning, cultural immersion, and specific areas of interest. 

 

Princeton offers 300 student organizations. While Greek life is not recognized, some fraternities and sororities exist off-campus. More prominent are eating clubs, which bring together upperclassmen for meals and social experiences. Princeton also has a thriving study abroad program, including opportunities to intern around the world.

 

Culture and Diversity

 

In the Class of 2023, approximately 56% of students at Princeton identified as people of color. The college is also known to be LGBTQ+-friendly, with a 5/5 star rating for its commitment to inclusion on the Campus Pride Index and many initiatives for gender and sexuality. 

 

Nearly half of students admitted into Dartmouth’s Class of 2023 were American people of color, and 16% were first-generation. Twelve percent were international students. Dartmouth is also committed to gender and sexuality diversity, with programs like LGBTQIA+ Student Advising.

 

How to Decide Between Princeton vs. Dartmouth

 

Princeton and Dartmouth are both highly prestigious universities (despite its name, Dartmouth is a research university with graduate and doctoral programs). 

 

For students looking for a more intimate, rural feel, Dartmouth will likely be the choice for you. Meanwhile, Princeton will probably appeal toward those looking for a somewhat bigger university. While not in a city, Princeton is very close to large urban settings.

 

Dartmouth is also the better option if you’re looking for a flexible curriculum. The D-Plan gives you a lot of freedom to study around your interests and schedule. For those seeking a more traditional collegiate experience, Princeton is the better fit. The requirements are not overwhelming, but the university ensures that you’ll receive a well-rounded education.

 

When it comes down to it, your top choice is a matter of personal preference. Chances are, you’ll receive a worthwhile education at both Princeton and Dartmouth.

 

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.