Dartmouth College is the smallest member of the Ivy League – and arguably the one with the most intimate social and geographic setting. Dartmouth is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a small town near New Hampshire’s border with Vermont. Prospective students from warmer climates should note that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory is nearby. That gives an idea of what the winters are like – but also of the remarkable intellectual capital to be found in the area. In fact, observers say that Dartmouth’s small size and the geographical proximity of its programs are two of the reasons why an unusual amount of cross-disciplinary and groundbreaking work is done there.
Dartmouth College was founded as an undergraduate institution and continues to exercise a commitment to undergrad education. It is also an outstanding research university, and has highly regarded schools of business, medicine, and engineering as well as graduate programs in the arts and sciences. In the school’s own words, Dartmouth’s mission is to “instill a love of learning and discovery in every member of its community.” Dartmouth College strives to make its educational experience available to all qualified students, assessing applicants on a ‘need blind’ basis that considers their abilities without regard to their financial resources. Dartmouth has a unique academic calendar, the ‘D Plan,’ which divides the year into four terms of equal length. This means that students have exceptional flexibility in planning their schedules, and can seek off-campus experiences (such as internships and research) at any time of year. This may be one reason why Dartmouth College has the highest rate of participation in study-abroad programs of any Ivy League institution, with about 60% of any senior class having spent at least one quarter outside the U.S.
Dartmouth offers a remarkably rich social and cultural life. Dartmouth College students can take part in any of over 200 organizations and activities. Those with musical inclinations can participate in highly regarded choirs, glee clubs, and ensembles. Students with an artistic bent can enjoy the resources of an outstanding art museum and center for performing arts, and those who enjoy sports can get involved in activities ranging from an NCAA Division 1 football team to the mountaineering club. In fact, Dartmouth College is considered to have one of the best college varsity sports programs in the country – more evidence that the school does not let its relatively small scale or remote location keep it from providing its students with the best possible resources for intellectual and personal growth.