Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH: The autumn road to Dartmouth feels like a drive through fire. On either side of the road, orange and red trees sweep in glowing waves over the hills, capped by dense early-morning fog. Emerging from these undulating hills, you arrive at Dartmouth College.

Dartmouth is a world-class institution, an Ivy League that manages to keep its own character intact while maintaining its ties to an ultra-elite group of schools. Dartmouth stands out among its Ivy League companions because of its emphasis on undergraduates. In contrast to others where classes are often taught by graduate students, all Dartmouth courses are taught by professors. Furthermore, Dartmouth undergrads do not have a core curriculum, instead they can choose from hundreds of classes in ten subject areas (the humanities being the most renowned). These factors, along with a student-faculty ratio of 8:1, ensure that undergrads get the full academic experience.

Dartmouth also has a unique plan based on a quarter system. The D-Plan requires that students stay on campus only freshman and senior years, plus the summers between sophomore and junior year, a time when sophomores essentially rule the campus, running clubs and organizations. During the other two years, students can elect which quarters they will take for residence, employment, study abroad or vacation. Dartmouth students can spend up to three of their quarters studying abroad.

Back home, students can take advantage of many clubs and organizations. The student newspaper is the oldest in the country, and the Outing Club maintains over 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

Athletics are also an important part of student life. Dartmouth competes with other Division I schools as well as in the Ivy League conference. The facilities are excellent, especially the newly renovated Scully-Fahey Field featuring artificial turf. Students can also stop by the esteemed Hood Museum and Hopkins Center for the Arts, attend local film events and hear guest speakers such as director Ang Lee, and, of course, explore the great outdoors.

The college is also famous – make that infamous – for its Greek system: Dartmouth fraternities inspired the rowdy frat flick “Animal House.” Every niche of every interest is covered at Dartmouth, and it is impossible not to find something to love when you get there.

Students are among the brightest and most gifted in the country. Alma mater of Dr. Seuss (Class of 1925) and Robert Frost (Class of 1896), as well as innumerable successful individuals, Dartmouth is a pre-eminent university among America’s colleges. If you can get in (only 20 percent of applicants were accepted in 2002), you will no doubt have an amazing four years.

Reviewed in 2004