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Dartmouth v. Columbia

csf103acsf103a 4 replies1 threads New Member
edited July 13 in Dartmouth College
Hi all-
I am very fortunate to have been accepted to both Columbia University and Dartmouth College as a member of the Class of 2024. (I'm posting in the Dartmouth thread because I am leaning towards Dartmouth as of the moment.)
These are two rather diametrically dissimilar schools, I know, but I live close to Columbia, while I’ve always liked New England and the outdoors so I was naturally attracted to Dartmouth.

I now have to make a decision as to which of these schools I will attend next year, and I need some advice. Just FYI, I am a restrained, fairly conservative (but not socially conservative) guy who is interested in government, as well as film, and I hope to attend a top law school.

Columbia:
Pros– close to home; no frats; many more filmmaking/cinema studies opportunities; ranked 3rd on USNWR
Cons– no real “campus life”; not sure if there’s really a sense of community; few extracurricular activities take place on campus; maybe too high-strung/competitive

Dartmouth:
Pros– seems to be a bit more laid back; beautiful campus; excellent sense of community; New England!
Cons– frats; drinking culture

Two further questions:
1.) How do Columbia and Dartmouth compare in terms of being able to obtain a high GPA / as feeders to HLS or YLS?

2.) How pervasive is harmful frat life / the drinking culture at Dartmouth? I do not inherently object to joining a fraternity, but I dislike both frat hazing (how prevalent is this at Dartmouth?) and drinking to the point of inebriation.

Any insights, comments, or overall advice would be tremendously appreciated. Thank you!
edited July 13
40 replies
Post edited by CCAdmin_Vic on
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Replies to: Dartmouth v. Columbia

  • NJdad07090NJdad07090 624 replies8 threads Member
    As I posted elsewhere part of the college experience is trying new things, in your case getting out of NYC, you can avoid any schools party scene just like you can find it. I would think Dartmouth will help you see a different slice of life and let you experience the great outdoors on a "traditional" college campus.
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  • happy1happy1 24198 replies2428 threads Super Moderator
    You can't go wrong -- go with your personal preference.
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  • merc81merc81 11898 replies203 threads Senior Member
    You could reach a top law school from either of these schools. However, it seems Dartmouth appeals to you in a way that Columbia doesn't. On this basis, I think you should choose Dartmouth. Regarding potential hazing, learn from a cautionary tale (below), then commit to making good choices for yourself.

    https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/confessions-of-an-ivy-league-frat-boy-inside-dartmouths-hazing-abuses-238604/
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  • csf103acsf103a 4 replies1 threads New Member
    edited March 29
    Thank you all for the responses so far.

    @merc81
    I have read that article previously, and that's exactly the sort of thing that scares me about Dartmouth! Hazing and excessive drinking seem, however, to be my only concerns with the school (I love the location, etc.).

    Am I correct in assuming that one can avoid this harmful hazing/drinking culture (not necessarily avoid a fraternity per se...but certainly avoid this harmful culture that seems to be present in some measure at Dartmouth)??
    edited March 29
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  • Techno13Techno13 340 replies13 threads Member
    edited March 29
    My husband is a Dartmouth alum and has nothing but great memories. He still has friends from college he hangs out with even though we're on the West Coast now. It's very different from Columbia. My husband is not even close to a partier and didn't even drink in college (thankfully he does now.) There's plenty of space for different social circles to exist. Based on what you've said about yourself I think you should choose Dartmouth.
    edited March 29
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  • merc81merc81 11898 replies203 threads Senior Member
    edited March 29
    As an alternative interpretation of the RS article, you can consider it as a psychological profile. That is, the central figure may have essentially created his own reality based on personality aspects that were present before he arrived at Dartmouth, and which foreshadowed his experiences there. Could his experiences also reflect to an extent the culture of Dartmouth generally? This could be the case, but, importantly, they might primarily pertain to a subculture that you certainly could avoid through your own choices, as well as through guidance from college support staff if needed. However, I'm glad you have read the article. This shows an inquisitiveness that will benefit you wherever you attend.
    edited March 29
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  • csf103acsf103a 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you both so much!
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  • merc81merc81 11898 replies203 threads Senior Member
    Let us know which school you choose, @csf103a. Best of luck!
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  • PublisherPublisher 11573 replies155 threads Senior Member
    If Columbia University undergrad is a feeder to any law school, it would be to Columbia Law School.

    Columbia Law School is just as good as Harvard Law with respect to biglaw placement.
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 663 replies6 threads Member
    Go to Columbia. It offers A+ grades while I am 99% certain Dartmouth does not. If you are shooting for Yale Law School, you will need them. Best of luck!
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  • PublisherPublisher 11573 replies155 threads Senior Member
    You should be fine at either school, but you are unlikely to be to avoid the frat party scene at Dartmouth College unless willing to live a very sheltered & lonely social life.
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20987 replies2055 threads Super Moderator
    edited March 29
    Publisher wrote: »
    You should be fine at either school, but you are unlikely to be to avoid the frat party scene at Dartmouth College unless willing to live a very sheltered & lonely social life.

    This is absolutely not true.

    The difference is that activities given by the greek system is open to the entire campus, where at other schools, you you can only attend activities if you are part of a particular frat/sorority. You do not have to be greek to have an active social life at Dartmouth.

    My D is a Dartmouth grad. Attending Dartmouth did not hurt her in the law school process -she was a Religion Major (where GPA/LSAT is what really matters) nor in her professional life following law school (where she works in cybersecurity).

    Many years out she has many friends from law school , where she said some are her professional friends. However, she bleeds green and has cultivated relationships with her Dartmouth classmates that have truly lasted a lifetime. Most of her core group of friends went to HBS, where she says, "they love us there", but she also has many friends who graduated from top law/med schools.

    We are from NYC. One of the things that drove my D's decision to attend Dartmouth is that she did not want her entire educational experience to take place on the island of manhattan where she attended school K-12 (she knew that she would be returning to NYC to live/work after school). She had spent many years on Columbia's campus growing up and was looking for something different.

    Columbia and Dartmouth are 2 totally different places. I feel bad that there are no admitted student visits. No place is perfect; I remember crying when my D chose Dartmouth as It wasn't my first choice for her. It turned out to be a great place and a great experience for her and in hindsight, I have no regrets with her choice.
    edited March 29
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  • csf103acsf103a 4 replies1 threads New Member
    As I mentioned in my original post, I'm not necessarily opposed to frats...I just dislike the hazing and binge-drinking scene. Therefore, thank you, @sybbie719 !! Your post has made me feel better!

    @OneMoreToGo2021 – Yale undergrad doesn't give A+ grades either, and the biggest feeder to Yale Law is Yale undergrad. I feel certain that law schools are aware of the highest GPAs available at specific undergraduate institutions...just as colleges are aware of the highest GPAs available at specific high schools. However, if anyone has any information that contradicts this assumption, please let me know! (It is worth noting, however, that Dartmouth sent 21 kids to Yale Law this past year—not a number to scoff at!)

    Thanks again, everyone!
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  • PublisherPublisher 11573 replies155 threads Senior Member
    edited March 29
    @sybbie719: I think that you misinterpreted my post.

    I never wrote that anyone had to pledge a Greek house at Dartmouth to have a social life; my post suggests that the social life at Dartmouth College revolves around frat parties--just as your post suggests.

    My post is accurate.

    Also, I never wrote that one's chances at law school would be harmed by attending any school. (Just that Columbia feeds into Columbia Law school in response to OP's concern about getting into Harvard or Yale law schools.)
    edited March 29
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  • PublisherPublisher 11573 replies155 threads Senior Member
    edited March 29
    @csf103a:

    Google: "Dartmouth Drinking Culture" and you will find many articles from impartial sources.

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dartmouth-drinking-culture-n-5352563

    Dartmouth Drinking Culture Worships Beer Pong, but Can It Be Tamed?

    "Hanover might as well be an island," Dartmouth professor Russell Rickford told The Huffington Post. "There's nothing to do in town and the only thing going on is found in the basement of the fraternities."

    P.S. The citation to the website is locked, but the article--and many like it--is easily retrieved by googling:

    "Dartmouth Drinking Culture"

    Again, social life at Dartmouth College revolves around frats. You do not have to be a member in order to attend frat parties at Dartmouth College.
    edited March 29
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  • PublisherPublisher 11573 replies155 threads Senior Member
    edited March 30
    OP: I understand your desire for a change of location. I also understand your concerns as stated in your post which started this thread.

    As I wrote earlier, you will be fine at either school, but it is highly unlikely that you will be able to avoid the frat party scene at Dartmouth.

    P.S. I have no dog in this hunt. In fact, many of my closest friends are Dartmouth grads. And, as I have written before on CC, I have never met a Dartmouth grad that I didn't like.

    I will share that two of my closest friends would not let their son apply to Dartmouth due to the drinking culture. Both parents are Dartmouth alums & met at Dartmouth. (Their son went to Princeton.)

    My thought is that so long as you are aware of the social scene, you will be fine. If you are expecting something else socially, you will be disappointed.
    edited March 30
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20987 replies2055 threads Super Moderator
    edited March 30
    Again publisher you are not correct in your assertion that social life revolves around the frats and drinking. My kid who was a non drinker then and s light social drinker now had no problems at Dartmouth. it does you or no one else any good to paint any school with such broad strokes.

    I went to Cornell, where there was a heavy frat drinking culture and my sister went to Columbia- I would say that Columbia had more drinking because of the ease of leaving campus to do so.

    I am very certain that Dartmouth has changed between the time your friends went when it Dartmouth was a dominantly a privledged white male environment and the time when my Daughter attended.
    edited March 30
    Post edited by sybbie719 on
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  • PublisherPublisher 11573 replies155 threads Senior Member
    edited March 30
    We just have to agree to disagree. I know several recent Dartmouth grads.

    Regardless, I think that OP will select Dartmouth College because he needs a change of scenery. Part of the college experience is adapting to a new environment.

    OP raised these issues, I did not; I just responded to OP's original post which started this thread.

    And, if I am wrong, then many reporters, publications, Dartmouth students & Dartmouth faculty are also wrong. That is why I encouraged OP to use google & decide for himself.

    I have no dog in this hunt.
    edited March 30
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20987 replies2055 threads Super Moderator
    edited March 30
    I too know several Dartmouth grads and current students since my school sends students there every year.

    There is not a lack of drinking or greek life at Columbia..

    https://www.columbiaspectator.com/eye-lead/2019/04/11/party-foul-the-rise-of-alcohol-discipline-at-columbia-3/

    https://www.cc-seas.columbia.edu/reslife/fsl/chapters

    At Columbia, four chapters undergo judicial review this semester: Beta Theta Pi, Sigma Nu, Kappa Delta Rho, and Lambda Phi Epsilon. These chapters make up half of all fraternities with brownstones.

    https://www.columbiaspectator.com/eye-lead/2018/11/14/can-columbias-fraternities-survive-the-national-threat-to-greek-life/

    Dartmouth's reputation as the Animal House makes it low hanging fruit and an easy target when it comes the greek life and drinking. Unfortunately there is a lot of drinking, frats and hazing on campuses across the country, even at Princeton.

    https://www.tigermag.com/2016/09/hazards-and-hazing-get-ready-to-have-your-ass-kicked/

    http://nassauweekly.com/behind-closed-doors-how-princetons-administration-is-turning-a-blind-eye-to-serious-safety-issues-in-its-secret-bar-district/
    edited March 30
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  • PublisherPublisher 11573 replies155 threads Senior Member
    edited March 30
    I agree.

    The issue, however, is really about alternative activities available as OP wants to avoid drunken frat parties.

    Some college campus' social life is dominated by frat parties.

    Kids are resilient.

    Dartmouth grads tend to be very successful.

    P.S. OP is under the impression that there are no frats at Columbia as stated in his original post which started this thread.
    edited March 30
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