Should I Go To Dartmouth College?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Rebecca is a Phoenix tutor specializing in several subjects such as SAT prep tutoring, ACT prep tutoring, Calculus tutoring, and History tutoring. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. See what she had to say about her alma mater:


VT:  Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Rebecca: Dartmouth is famously rural. As a college situated in the middle of a forest, you don’t get a lot of crime—it’s definitely not a big deal to walk home by yourself at night. In fact, students often leave their laptops completely unattended in the library while they go and get food or go to the gym. Because it’s such a small school, everyone pretty much knows each other, so there isn’t really an inclination to steal. Also, because Dartmouth is so small, you can easily walk from your dorm to your classes. You don’t need a car or bike on campus, although it is nice to have one when you want to get off campus. There is also a bus system that connects the school to the surrounding towns.

VT:  How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants? 

Rebecca: The great thing about Dartmouth is that everyone, from professors, to advisors, to TA’s, are very accessible. They are always willing to sit down with a student and discuss anything from a topic presented in class to their favorite place to eat in town. It’s common for professors to take their students out to lunch—I’ve even had dinners in my professors’ homes! If you want to reach out and talk to any of these people, they would be more than happy to talk. 

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students? 

Rebecca: Dartmouth, uniquely, has most of its students living on campus all four years. There is dorm housing for everyone, although there is the option to live off campus (a little farther away). It has newly renovated many of its dorms, but there are a couple where you still get the old-school Ivy-League feel with brick walls, fireplaces (unusable unfortunately), and dark wood panelling. Dining options are spread around campus, with 3 main cafeterias, and 2 cafes in the library. One of the cafeterias is an impressive all-you-can-eat buffet. Every week, there is a different type of food featured at one of the stations; I’ve had Korean, Ethiopian, Chinese, and Japanese food there. Another cafeteria caters towards vegetarians, providing vegan and vegetarian food in addition to non-vegetarian options. 

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Rebecca: I think that every single program at Dartmouth is amazing. Every single one of the professors is not only dedicated to their work, but a giant in his or her field. I once took a Government class that had to have the final pushed up because my professor was needed in Libya since he was one of the leading experts in the international relations field. I was an English major and took many government and science courses. English was something that I always wanted to study and Dartmouth did an incredible job with supporting my interests. I was able to study abroad at the University of Glasgow for a term, participate in a number of small seminar classes of around 10 people where we critiqued each other’s work, and found that every single one of the professors I talked to was genuinely interested in what I had to say. 

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Rebecca: As a freshman, everyone is new and willing to meet people, so it is very easy to make friends. Clubs, associations, and sports teams pay special attention to freshmen so they feel welcomed and, often, freshmen take leadership roles. Greek life plays a very significant role in campus life. Because there is not a “college town” to socialize in, the main social space is in the Greek houses. However, Dartmouth does not have the stereotypical Greek life. Everyone is allowed into the parties and everyone is encouraged to rush. With around 65% of the campus being affiliated (that doesn’t include freshmen, since they aren’t allowed to rush), the Greek houses are really more like social clubs than anything else. 

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Rebecca: I did not use the Career Center much until the very end of my time at Dartmouth when I started applying to law school. Many people started using it much earlier because so many big companies recruit on campus through the Career Center. However, since that was not my path, I found it quite late. I am so glad that I was able to utilize it as a resource, however, because the advisors helped me write my resume, looked over my personal statement, and held open houses for law schools so the students could learn more about each particular school. Even now, I contact the law advisor in the Career Center with questions, and she is more than willing to help connect me with an alumnus or other advisor who might be able to help me. 

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges?  Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious? 

Rebecca: As in any institution, the library is crowded in waves. At the beginning of the term, it is nearly empty, and by the end, people are literally sleeping there. There were times when I couldn’t find a spot to study in at the library, but that just meant that I would study somewhere else, such as in one of the classroom buildings or in the study rooms in the dorms. I never had a situation where everywhere was so crowded that I literally could not find a place to study.  

In the spring, many people like to study on the Green, which is the big grassy space in the middle of the campus. I don’t think there was really anything better than that!

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Rebecca: Most students stay very near campus because Hanover is a very small town. Apart from a couple of restaurants, clothing stores, and cafes, the “college town” is pretty limited. However, being situated in the middle of nature makes Dartmouth a beautiful place to get in touch with nature. I’ve been camping at the log cabins that the school owns, I’ve gone kayaking and swimming in the Connecticut River, I’ve run in the woods, and hiked the famous mountains in Vermont. Even if you’re not an outdoorsy type (I certainly wasn’t before Dartmouth), there are plenty of clubs to join. 

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Rebecca: The student body consists of about 4,000 undergraduates—roughly 1,000 students per class. This meant that my classes were generally small and I was able to get a lot of individual attention. My largest class was a Chemistry lecture with 80 students in it. My smallest was a poetry seminar with 8 students. In general, the classes have an average of around 25 students.  

I loved the small classes because this meant I was able to get close with many of my professors, which was great when I needed letters of recommendation later on! 

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Rebecca: My most memorable experience with a professor happened outside of class. In my senior year, I fell very ill so I had to withdraw from my classes one term and had to be hospitalized in the nearby Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. While I was in the hospital, I received an outpouring of support not only from my friends, but from my professors! They sent me personalized cards, spoke with me on the phone, and followed up long after I had been discharged. Even professors that I had a couple of years back checked up on me. I was incredibly moved by how much they cared, and it cemented in my mind that the professors at Dartmouth are not only the smartest people I would ever meet but also the kindest.


Check out Rebecca’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.