Timothy Peck 6 min read 11th Grade, 12th Grade, School Spotlight

What is Dartmouth College Known For?

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What is Dartmouth known for? On one hand, Dartmouth is known for its rigorous academics, Ivy League status, and small class sizes. On the other hand, the college is renowned for its Greek life (it was the inspiration for the movie Animal House), rural setting, and outdoorsy vibe. 

 

Wondering what else makes Dartmouth unique? Here’s what you should know.

 

Overview of Dartmouth

 

Location: Hanover, NH

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,400

Acceptance Rate: 9.2%

Middle 50% SAT: 1440-1540

Middle 50% ACT: 32-35

 

Dartmouth is consistently ranked in the top 20 national universities, and its rigorous admissions reflect that. The college places particular importance on academics and highly values applicants with high GPAs who are at the top, or very close to the top, of their class. Dartmouth recently added supplemental essays to their application process—these carry weight but are no substitution for an exceptional academic profile.  


Unique Aspects of Dartmouth 

 

What is Dartmouth known for? From its northern New England location to owning its own ski hill to its incredible alumni network, there’s a multitude of ways in which Dartmouth differentiates itself from other colleges.

    

Academics

 

Dartmouth is known for its unique year-round academic calendar. The “D Plan”—the name given to Dartmouth’s quarter-system calendar—consists of four 10-week terms per year,  providing students with a great deal of flexibility. Students generally take three classes per term and must complete 35 classes over 12 terms to graduate. Students are able to select which terms they are on campus; the sole requirement is that they complete the requisite number of classes over their four years.

 

The flexibility of the D Plan allows for fantastic internship opportunities, as Dartmouth students don’t need to compete against hordes of other college students for summer positions. The D Plan also enables students to explore the world and travel for extended stretches. On the topic of travel, study abroad is a popular program at Dartmouth—a 2018 survey of new students found that 75% were interested in studying abroad

 

Dartmouth is home to five schools: 

 

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Geisel School of Medicine
  • Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies
  • Thayer School of Engineering
  • Tuck School of Business

 

Of Dartmouth’s five schools, two of them are open to undergraduates—Arts & Sciences and the Thayer School of Engineering (which was founded in 1867 and is one of the oldest engineering schools in the country).  

 

A notable aspect of Dartmouth’s engineering school is its dual degree program, which allows students from other liberal arts colleges to pursue an engineering degree at Dartmouth. Dual-degree graduates will spend a fifth year at Dartmouth and graduate with both a bachelor’s degree from their home school and a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) from Dartmouth. The schools that participate in Dartmouth’s dual-degree program are:

 

  • Amherst
  • Bard
  • Bates
  • Bowdoin
  • Colby
  • Grinnell
  • Hamilton
  • Hobart & William Smith
  • Middlebury
  • Morehouse
  • Mount Holyoke
  • Pomona College
  • Simon’s Rock
  • Skidmore
  • Spelman
  • St. Lawrence
  • Vassar
  • Wesleyan
  • Wheaton
  • Williams

 

Lastly, talk with any former Dartmouth student and they’ll glow over the access they had to their teachers. Classes are led by professors, not graduate students, and class sizes are small. 

 

Extracurriculars

 

Greek life at Dartmouth is legendary. It famously inspired the classic 1978 movie Animal House, and plays a large role in today’s campus life—undergraduate participation in fraternities and sororities hovers around 70%. Greek life is the social hub of the college and embodies the “work hard, play hard” ethos that permeates campus culture. 

 

Dartmouth is home to the oldest and largest outing club in the nation—it was founded in 1909 and about a quarter of the undergraduate population are Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) members. DOC members can use the club’s cabins, go on their trips, gain access to its rental gear, and take classes. Because of the large size of the DOC, it serves as an umbrella for a handful of smaller clubs focused on outdoor recreation, including:

 

  • Alpine Ski Racing Club
  • Archery Team
  • Bait and Bullet (fishing and hunting)
  • Biathlon 
  • Cabin and Trail 
  • Climbing Team 
  • Dartmouth Mountaineering Club 
  • Ledyard Canoe Club 
  • Mountain Bike Team 
  • Organic Farm 
  • Timber Team 
  • Women in the Wilderness 

 

One of the amenities available to Dartmouth’s outdoorsy student body is the Dartmouth Ski Way, the school-owned ski area. Just 15 minutes from campus, the school has regular shuttles to and from the ski area, and students receive discounted tickets. 

 

An active outing club, its own ski mountain, and easy access to the ski areas of New Hampshire and Vermont have all helped Dartmouth produce some of the world’s best skiers. Dartmouth has had a skier in every Olympics dating back to 1924 and, in 2018, 13 U.S. skiers (and one Bermuda skier) were Dartmouth alumni. One of the world’s best skiers, Mikaela Shiffrin—winner of two Olympic old medals and winner of more than 60 World Cup races—didn’t go to Dartmouth, but her Dad did. He was a member of the Dartmouth ski team in the 1970s. 

 

It’s not all outdoor activities that get “Big Green” students going outside the classroom. The Dartmouth Aires is the university’s oldest a capella group. Since 1946, the group has performed a wide mix of musical styles and sketch comedy on campus, along the East Coast, and internationally—performing as far afield as Italy, Hong Kong, and Aruba.

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Traditions

 

One of Dartmouth’s most lasting (and fun) traditions is its annual snowball fight, which occurs during the first snowfall of winter term. The event is triggered by a mysterious email in poem form sent by famous alumni (Dr. Seuss) to Robert Frost (also a Dartmouth graduate) inviting the reader to a midnight snowball fight. 

 

Dartmouth embraces the cold, dark winter months of northern New England for another of its most notable traditions: Winter Carnival. First held in 1911, the theme of the Winter Carnival changes each year, and events include a Polar Bear Swim and Human Dogsled Races. 

 

First-year trips play an important role in introducing new students to Dartmouth. “Trips” are a student-run, pre-orientation program that takes first-year students on a five-day outdoor experience (suitable for all skill levels and backgrounds) that facilitates interaction between upperclassmen and incoming students. The program is wildly popular, with more than 90% of incoming students participating.  

 

Dorms

 

Dartmouth is a close-knit residential college community. Roughly 90% of students live on campus in Dartmouth housing, which includes residence halls, fraternities, and sorority houses. Dartmouth’s campus is also home to numerous living-learning communities: 

 

  • Arabic Language Program
  • Asian and Asian American LLC
  • Chinese Language House
  • Entrepreneurship LLC
  • Gender Equity Program Floor
  • Great Issues Scholars in Residence
  • Japanese Language Program
  • Interfaith Floor
  • La Casa
  • LALAC House
  • Native American House
  • Shabazz Center for Intellectual Inquiry
  • Thriving Through Transitions LLC
  • Triangle House

 

Financial Aid

 

Dartmouth practices need-blind admissions, which means that the financial circumstances of a student are not considered when making admissions decisions. Students from families with total incomes of $100,000 or less (and in possession of the typical assets) will receive scholarships that cover the cost of tuition and are not required to take out loans. The average student debt for four years at Dartmouth is $20,373. 

 

Resources

 

Dartmouth has a variety of excellent resources available to their students. The school is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as having “very high research activity,” making it one of just 131 schools in the country to receive the honor. The school has a strong commitment to combining world-class academics with cutting-edge research. 

 

Location

 

Dartmouth’s home in Hanover, New Hampshire, offers a relatively rural experience when compared to other Ivies. Hanover is about two hours from Boston, one-and-a-half hours to Burlington, Vermont, and five hours from New York City. 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Dartmouth?

 

Prestigious schools like Dartmouth receive applications at a substantially higher rate than they admit students—they received more than 20,000 in 2020 and accepted fewer than 2,000 students. To streamline the admissions process, highly selective colleges use the Academic Index to weed out candidates with weaker academic profiles. The Academic Index is a single number that represents the strength of your grades and standardized test scores.  If your academics aren’t strong enough to clear Dartmouth’s threshold, there is a likelihood your application won’t get viewed in its entirety. 

 

One way to see how you stack up against admissions standards is with CollegeVine’s free chancing calculator. Our chancing engine uses data points like GPA and standardized test scores, along with other factors like extracurricular activities, to calculate your odds of acceptance at Dartmouth and hundreds of other colleges. In addition to your chances, it provides valuable insight into how to improve your profile.

 

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.