Our “Schools Like” series is where we take a school—a “dream” or a reach school—and give you a list of schools that are similar to that one school. “How could they be similar AT ALL?” you ask, when you’ve been wearing your mom’s Dartmouth sweatshirt since you were 4? Here’s a secret: there are only so many qualities that a school can have, and there is inevitably a ton of overlap when there are literally thousands of institutions of higher education in the U.S.
Dartmouth. It’s located in gorgeous Hanover, NH, which you need to know now is incredibly rural. As in, the closest Walmart is about a 20 minute drive away, and hopefully it won’t be snowing (or too cold to leave the house) as it is many months out of the year so that you can get there in the first place. Don’t get us wrong, it’s an incredible place—magical, even—to spend four years. The community is tight-knit, there are too many traditions to count (though if you run into a fellow Dartmouth alum, they’ll be eager to chat with you for over an hour about all of them), and it’s an Ivy with noteworthy academic chops. It’s outdoor trips for incoming freshman organized by the Dartmouth Outing Club (they’re optional, but 99% of incoming freshman take part) are the stuff of fairytales from start to finish. It’s also a great school to attend if you enjoy being in the outdoors—Dartmouth has its own skiway and ravine lodge. Take note, though: there are a lot of schools that offer all of this and more.
Location: Hanover, NH
Faculty to student ratio: 7:1
Schools like Dartmouth
Location: Gambier, OH
Size: ~1.7K undergraduates
A quote that refers to Dartmouth often cited by students and alums alike is: "It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet, there are those who love it!" The same can be said for Kenyon—a super small college in Gambier, OH, aka: the middle of nowhere, but a charming middle of nowhere. Kenyon’s small size and magnificent academic offerings make it a Midwestern version of Dartmouth. Every Kenyon student is incredibly loyal and fiercely opinionated, much like any Dartmouth student you might talk to. The small class sizes make for a great learning experience and every student that we’ve talked to truly raves about the professors. Kenyon’s strong Political Science program is also something to note, as well as its Public Policy concentration—Dartmouth is known for the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy.
Location: Brunswick, ME
Size: ~1.8K undergraduates
Bowdoin is sort of like the more relaxed version of a lot of other Northeast schools, but with the same level of academic rigor and prestige. Part of it is due to its location, and part of it is just the nature of the student that it attracts. This is certainly not to say that the school leaves anything to be desired in terms of the level of intellect clearly present in every classroom at Bowdoin—everyone is eager to learn and exchange ideas, but it’s not a notably competitive atmosphere which is a huge bonus for many applicants. The school has incredible natural sciences programs as well, and its location on the Maine coast is prime for research in this area of study.
Location: Middlebury, VT
Size: ~2.5K undergraduates
Naturally, a lot of students choose Dartmouth because of its academic reputation, and Middlebury certainly lives up to (and arguably exceeds) that standard. But, if part of you wants to go to Dartmouth because of the cold weather and Northeast emphasis on sports (read: lacrosse), then Middlebury is going to be a great fit for you as well. The location is similar to Hanover in that there are tons of mountains for hiking and skiing nearby, and it’s ideal for students who enjoy the outdoors. Students tend to be multidisciplinary in their interests and take classes all over the spectrum of liberal arts.
Location: Lewisburg, PA
Size: ~3.5K undergraduates
Similar to Dartmouth, Bucknell is often lauded for its gorgeous campus, intricate architecture, and distinctive “cozy” feel that its campus has. To top it off, it’s one of the few schools where their liberal arts offerings are just as strong as their technical and engineering offerings, similar to Dartmouth and its strong Thayer School of Engineering. Bucknell’s engineering programs rank in the top 10 lists of engineering programs while also emphasizing the importance of the liberal arts and studying across focuses. Plus, Lewisburg is still relatively rural and is about as far from Philly as Dartmouth is from Boston (2.5 hours). Just far enough to feel like you’re in your own intellectual paradise but close enough to make a day trip if you so choose.
Location: Williamstown, MA
Size: ~2K undergraduates
Essentially an Ivy League located in the Berkshires, many students who apply to Dartmouth also apply to Williams because of the high-ranking academics, incredible professors, small graduate population, and secluded location. The emphasis on student and teacher relationships is also similar to Dartmouth’s focus on cultivating mentorship opportunities. The small graduate population on campus is key because while undergraduate studies are still the focus of life on campus, there is some diversity to the school’s strengths. It’s pretty nice to have such easy access to graduate-level professors and select classes if you so choose, as well as to go to school in such a picturesque location. Williamstown and Hanover are similarly challenging to get to if distance from the chaos of cities is something important that you’re looking for as well.
Location: Nashville, TN
Dartmouth and Vanderbilt are often compared to each other because of the combination of intense academics and thriving but insular social scene. Like Dartmouth, Vanderbilt also has a “work hard, play hard” mentality but Vanderbilt is also much closer to city life than Dartmouth is. Which means you have more options in terms of community interaction, social calendar events, and job opportunities. Vanderbilt takes Greek life seriously, and though Dartmouth isn’t quite as big as Vanderbilt, and instead of mansions it’s slightly dilapidated fraternity houses, the intensity is certainly there both in and out of the classroom. That said, it’s a southern school for sure. Vanderbilt is academically rigorous, with a lot of room for student-driven research and projects. When you walk around Vanderbilt’s campus, we’ll be honest—it exudes some serious ivy prestige.
Location: Waterville, ME
Size: ~1.8K undergraduates
Colby is a bit smaller than Dartmouth, but its numerous storied traditions, loyal student body, and intense academics makes it a great fit for anyone who is interested in Dartmouth. It's also in a cold, rural setting. The skiing in Maine is incredible, and Colby is just a few hours (OK maybe more than a couple) away from Montreal.
Location: Northfield, MN
Size: ~2K undergraduates
Carleton is rising in popularity each year with our students, and we understand why. The average class size is small, at just 18, with a 9:1 faculty to student ratio. The good news is that you get a significant amount of individualized attention. Students who succeed at Dartmouth attribute a lot of their success to their professors and the relationships that they cultivate. The same can be said about Carleton, in addition to a notable and distinct quirky charm about the campus—a sort of Carleton “bubble” that you also feel when you set foot in Hanover, New Hampshire. The school also has a number of traditions that rival Dartmouth’s numerous rituals and crazy stories that precede each student who enrolls there.
Still feeling unsure about where to apply to school? Let us know and we’ll help you come up with a personalized, balanced, and exciting school list based on your numbers. It can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.