Campus Visit: Dartmouth College


Nestled into the Upper Valley that straddles Vermont and New Hampshire, Dartmouth sits alongside the Connecticut River in the picturesque town of Hanover, NH.  Founded in 1769 to educate Native Americans, Dartmouth is now one of the eight schools that make up the prestigious Ivy League.  Unlike Columbia, Harvard and Penn which each have over 20,000 students, the school has just over 6000 students, about 4200 of them undergraduates.  Its

Dartmouth -- Source:
Dartmouth — Source:

location in Hanover marks another distinct difference from its Ivy League brethren, most of which are located in larger, urban areas.  Hanover, with just over 11,000 permanent residents, reminds one of the quintessential small New England town, and it is physically connected to Dartmouth by its Main Street which runs along the Dartmouth Green and through the heart of campus.

Dartmouth is home to three graduate schools:  the Thayer School of Engineering, the Tuck School of Business and the Geisel School of Medicine (named after Theodore Geisel, better know as Dr. Suess, an alumnus of Dartmouth).  However, the focus remains on undergraduate teaching.  Unlike at many other schools, Dartmouth undergrads are taught by professors rather than graduate students.  Many of these professors have received awards for their teaching and, as a whole, the Dartmouth faculty has been awarded the top spot in “Strong Commitment to Teaching” by US News each of the last five years.

Dartmouth students can choose from over fifty different majors from African Studies to Engineering Sciences to Psychology.

Academics and the D-Plan:

Baker Library
Baker Library from across the Dartmouth Green

Another thing that sets Dartmouth apart from the other Ivies is its commitment to the liberal arts.  The school firmly believes that the best education exposes students to a wide range of disciplines and ideas while still allowing them to complete a concentrated course of study in their major.  This approach allows Dartmouth students to explore in areas they might not otherwise have considered.  During our recent tour, for instance, our tour guide said that he had come to Dartmouth knowing he wanted to major in something “math or science-y.”  An Economics major, he is also an Art History minor, having had his interest sparked by a dynamic professor during his freshman year.

In order to receive their degree, Dartmouth students must demonstrate a proficiency in expository writing and in a language other than English.  Among their 35 courses, they must meet the following General Education Requirements:

World Culture: one course each in Non-Western, Western and Culture & Identity
Distributive Courses:  ten courses in Arts, Literature, Systems and Traditions of Thought, Meaning and Value, Social Analysis (2 courses), International or Comparative Study, Quantitative or Deductive Science, Natural Sciences (2 courses) and Technology or Applied Science.

In addition students must complete three terms of Physical Education (which are not included in the 35 courses needed to graduate).

While the emphasis on liberal arts provides a broad education for all students, those interested in Engineering need to understand the effect all of these requirements have on their Dartmouth experience. Undergraduates who major in engineering sciences receive a Bachelor of Arts degree. Those interested in the more professional degree, the Bachelor of Engineering, need to take a minimum of nine additional engineering classes above those required for the A.B.  For most students this means an additional one to three terms on campus.

Another unique aspect of Dartmouth is the calendar system.  The Dartmouth Plan (or “D-Plan” as it is more popularly called) allows students flexibility in the way that they design their programs.  There are four terms per year, named after the seasons.  Seven of the

The D-Plan Source:
The D-Plan

student’s twelve terms of study are mandated. These include the summer between sophomore and junior years, known as Sophomore Summer.  Being on campus during the summer has a number of advantages.  Because activities such as the campus newspaper run in the summer, sophomores are given leadership opportunities since they are among the only students on campus.  Another benefit of the D-Plan is that it means that Dartmouth students normally complete their internships during the Fall, Winter or Spring when they aren’t competing for coveted spots with students from other colleges.

Dartmouth is also home to an extensive study abroad program, with over 55 percent of students participating in at least one academic off-campus program during their four years.  Of these, about 40 percent study away from Hanover two or more times.

Residential and Social Life:

Over 90 percent of Dartmouth students live on campus with the remaining ten percent in either college-owned off-campus apartments or other local rental housing.  About one-

Russell Sage Hall
Russell Sage Hall

third of freshman live in the First-Year housing clusters the River and the Choates.  The remaining freshmen live on first-year floors in one of four other clusters that house students from different years. After the first year, students have a number of options including traditional residences, affinity program housing (such as the Chinese Language House or the Sustainable Living House), as well as fraternities and sororities.

Beginning in the Winter term of their sophomore year, students can live in GLOS (Greek Letter Organizations & Societies) housing.  A significant portion (especially for a northeastern school) of the Dartmouth student body is involved in the Greek system but those who aren’t won’t feel excluded.  Members are often found hanging out with friends in other houses, and by rule all Greek events must be open to the entire Dartmouth community.

Outside the classroom, Dartmouth students often take advantage of the school’s location near the woods and mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.  By far the largest club on campus is the Dartmouth Outing Club, which sponsors skiing, hiking, rafting, kayaking and other outdoor trips.  Students are also able to watch Division 1 sports and participate in extensive club and intramural sports programs.


As with all the other Ivy League schools, admission to Dartmouth is extremely competitive. Each application is reviewed in a process that is holistic in nature, and Dartmouth looks to enroll students who have outstanding academic records, demonstrated extracurricular leadership and the ability to contribute in some positive way to the Dartmouth campus.

Dartmouth College offers Early Decision and Regular Decision (but not Early Action) admissions plans.  Applicants are required to submit scores from either the SAT or the ACT with Writing.  In addition, students are required to take two SAT Subject Tests.  The mid-50% ranges for the most recent freshman class are:

Dartmouth Hall
Dartmouth Hall

SAT Reading:  680 – 780
SAT Math:  680 – 780
SAT Writing:  680 – 780
ACT:  30 – 34

Total Applicants:  22,428
Accepted:  2,337
Enrolled:  1,117


By the Numbers:

Women: Men   47:53
Student:Faculty Ratio:   8:1
Average Class Size: 16
Students Receiving Financial Aid:  50%
Average Financial Aid Award:  $40,000

For more information on Dartmouth, visit the school’s web site at

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