What is Dartmouth Known For? Is Dartmouth a Good School?

Dartmouth College is a member of the Ivy League, an elite group of eight of the oldest and most selective universities in the nation. 

In fact, Dartmouth only accepts around 6% of applicants on an annual basis. Those who are fortunate enough to gain admittance will join an undergraduate student body of just over 4,000.

The college is nestled in Hanover, New Hampshire, adjacent to the Connecticut River. 

Students can view Vermont’s Green Mountains on one side and New Hampshire’s White Mountains on the other – naturally, such gorgeous terrain provides ample opportunities for outdoor adventure and relaxation.

Some of America’s greatest innovators and leaders got their start at Dartmouth College. Over 160 members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives and two Supreme Court justices once roamed the halls of Dartmouth. 

Several billionaires came up with their groundbreaking ideas while studying at Dartmouth. Steven Roth – worth $1.1 billion – is currently developing a project to replace Penn Station beneath Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

Leon Black – with a net worth of $5.5 billion – has invested in popular companies like Twinkies and Chuck E. Cheese. 

Dartmouth alumni are successful in myriad realms. David Benioff (the creator of Game of Thrones) and Shonda Rhimes (the mind behind Grey’s Anatomy) both graduated from Dartmouth College. 

The school’s athletes have gone on to win Olympic medals while other students have earned Pulitzer Prizes and Marshall Scholarships.

Achievement is undoubtedly the name of the game at Dartmouth, though the school offers so much more than an exceptional education. 

Reading ahead, we will share the most popular majors, traditions, sports, and extracurricular activities available at Dartmouth. 

Accepted students will find themselves privy to a rare combination of a beautiful, beckoning landscape, an inclusive social environment, and an exciting and challenging curriculum.

What Majors & Academics Are Dartmouth Known For?

Dartmouth College
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Economics, political science and government, and engineering are among some of Dartmouth’s most popular majors

Almost half of the student body is enrolled in a major within the social science department, while one-third pursue studies in the science department.

Economics is by far the most popular major at Dartmouth. Within their classes, students focus beyond concepts and hypotheticals to solve real-world problems, such as why women earn less than men, how much money the United States should spend on healthcare, and what elements contribute to income inequality.

Each student majoring or minoring in economics will complete an independent research project, supervised by a department faculty member. 

Student projects often serve to answer some of the questions listed above, and most recent examples include challenging U.S. representative/senator insider trading loopholes and developing methods to track the spread of COVID-19.

The Department of Government is teeming with opportunities for politically-minded students. The Paganucci Fellows Program is an eight-week summer program where Dartmouth undergraduates work to help businesses create positive socio-economic change. 

The Leslie Center offers three Dartmouth students the opportunity to intern in New York or London on an annual basis. 

Students can choose from the print or digital journalism tracks and the total cost of the ten-week internship is covered by the Leslie Center.

The biomedical engineering sciences major has quickly emerged as one of the most popular programs at Dartmouth. Students interested in attending medical school can apply to the Geisel School of Medicine via the BME EAP (Biomedical Engineering Early Assurance Program). 

Up to three juniors are selected each year to receive early admission to the medical school, as well as more time to conduct research.

Is Dartmouth a Good School?

Dartmouth students adore their school largely for its sense of community – it is small enough to recognize most faces one comes across while still being large enough to offer a variety of unique programs and extracurricular offerings.

Students also favor the “D Plan,” which is the school’s quarter-system calendar. The four terms last ten weeks each, which results in students enrolling in three classes per term and completing 35 classes over 12 terms to graduate. 

Yes, that means that students might not be on campus for each term and that technically, they can graduate within three years. Benefits of this type of plan also include more flexibility when it comes to accepting internship, research, and travel abroad opportunities.

At least 60% of the student body belongs to a fraternity or sorority. While Dartmouth students are great at finding ways to have fun, they work diligently in the classroom. 

Dartmouth also has a great reputation when it comes to providing financial aid. They practice need-blind admissions, which means that they don’t take into account a student’s financial situation when making admissions determinations. 

Any admitted student whose family income is $100,000 or less will receive some form of aid to cover tuition costs. 

Dartmouth Traditions

Traditions constitute a significant part of the social fabric at Dartmouth. From political debates and festivals to first-day-of-snow snowball fights, students will find any reason to get together and celebrate!

Dartmouth Night and Homecoming make up some of the first big events of the school year. Since 1888, students have marched in parades and encircled massive bonfires on the Dartmouth Green. 

The following day, students flock to watch the Big Green take on an Ivy League competitor like Harvard or Yale.

In the colder months, Dartmouth students enjoy the Winter Carnival. This event was established over a century ago to highlight the school’s most successful winter athletes. Dartmouth leads all other Ivy League schools in the number of athletes they have sent off to compete in the winter Olympics.

These days, students participate in fun activities like ice sculpture-building contests, polar bear swims, human dog sled races, and 99-cent ski days. 

All students in good academic standing have the opportunity to join the Winter Carnival Council – the group responsible for planning and overseeing the annual Winter Carnival events.

The Dartmouth Powwow is a particularly special annual event, drawing hundreds of people from across the nation to revel in Native American history and culture. 

The Powwow dates back to 1971 when President John Kemeny vowed to address the opportunity gap for Native Americans when it came to post-secondary options. 

Finally, we couldn’t conclude the traditions section without mentioning the Daily Dip, where students commit to jumping into the Connecticut River each day for the entire spring term. Students see the challenge as a great way to have fun and make new friends. 

A plunge into the cool water will also wake the body up before the first class of the day!

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at Dartmouth

Dartmouth College Sanborn Library
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

There are over 150 clubs at Dartmouth College, and most students are involved in at least one group. The Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) was first established in 1909 to generate student interest in outdoor winter sports; today, the club boasts over 1,500 members. 

Considered the largest college outdoor club in the United States, the DOC hosts frequent outdoor excursions, training in first aid and safety, and efforts to maintain parts of the Appalachian Trail.

Another popular club for active students is the Dartmouth Climbing Team, with a group of over 30 members. 

No previous climbing experience? Not to worry. The team regularly offers sessions to amateur climbers, and the emphasis is truly on cultivating strong friendships. During a practice, climbers can be seen engaging in conditioning, on-the-wall techniques, and more.

Career-oriented students will find the Dartmouth Investment and Philanthropy Program (DIPP) to be an intriguing club option. DIPP manages an equity portfolio worth more than $700,000 and distributes a portion of its capital gains to charities on an annual basis.

During the year, club members learn about core investing principles, prepare for future careers in finance, and meet to pitch investment opportunities. DIPP’s 150+ members are assigned to collaborate on two pitches each term, all while hearing from noteworthy alumni speakers and gauging market updates.

What Sports Are Dartmouth Known For?

Athletics are very popular at Dartmouth – nearly a quarter of the entire student body plays some type of Division I varsity sport. 

The college is also a great place to play and/or watch sports represented less often in the media and on television, such as rowing, ultimate frisbee, and rugby.

The Rowing Team includes more than 200 athletes who train for long-distance races in the autumn. 

If you’re unfamiliar with New England’s climate, it is useful to know that the Connecticut River typically freezes in the fall and winter; thus, training moves indoors at that point. In the spring, the Rowing Team prepares for shorter 2000-meter sprint races against other Ivy League and New England schools.

It should be no surprise that cold water poses a little threat to Dartmouth swimmers. Dartmouth’s varsity swim team is one of the oldest continually-running collegiate swim programs in the nation. 

Current members also engage in community service by teaching swim lessons at Dartmouth Swim School, offered during the fall, winter, and spring seasons.

Cycling – while a club sport – races in Division II events. Founded in 1961, the team won the Ivy League title on seven occasions. 

In the autumn, cyclists attend the Cyclocross and Fall Mountain Bike races, while in the spring, they shift their focus toward the Eastern Conference Road season.

Ultimate frisbee is a well-known women’s team at Dartmouth. Known as Dartmouth Womxn’s Ultimate, the team has established itself as a dominant force in New England. They won the national competition in 2017 and 2018, then took second place in 2019.

Finally, the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club recruits powerhouse athletes. From the time the Ivy League rugby tournament was established in 1969, Dartmouth’s team has made countless appearances and won 12 championships (more than any other Ivy League competitor).

Why Dartmouth?

Dartmouth seems to have a beautiful campus that is neither too big nor too small, with small class sizes, flexible academic planning options, an abundance of extracurricular activities, and an atmosphere steeped in tradition.

One of the best reasons to take advantage of a Dartmouth education is its D Plan, mentioned above. The ability to “take off” a term of one’s choosing means that a student has increased access to internships and travel abroad opportunities with less competition from applicants at other schools.

Students excited about Greek culture will find a thriving sorority and fraternity scene on campus, as well as many clubs related to philanthropic, career, and athletic interests. More obscure sports like swimming, rugby, and rowing have a greater following than they would at other similar schools.

Employment opportunities abound at Dartmouth – more than 200 employers recruit students directly from the campus. Faculty remark that Dartmouth’s curriculum prepares enthusiastic and driven students for senior-level positions. The highest-paid of Dartmouth alumni earn over $320,000 per year (second only to Yale graduates).

Dartmouth is also a smart option for students who will require financial assistance to attend college. Thanks to their need-blind admission policy, talented applicants don’t have to worry about sacrificing the quality of their education.

A trip to Hanover, New Hampshire is the best way to check out Dartmouth College and get a taste of the quintessential college experience that alumni rave about for years after they leave.