There are some pretty dated conversations regarding Dickinson vs. Gettysburg here on CC. I am looking for input from folks who have insights to share, including specifics regarding comparisons and contrasts between these two schools. Our son has been accepted to both and the costs are very comparable. We have visited both as well. I’m looking for input from parents, students, and/or alums who might be able to help us with a deeper dive into these two beautiful schools. Thanks!
If the costs are comparable, 100% go with your sons gut. The differences in the objective elements are not substantive enough to be what tips it. IF he is vacillating remind him that
- in adult life, most big decisions are like this: a lot of complex variables and a fair few unknowns, and sooner or later you just have to remind yourself of the most important elements to you and make a decision
- if the decision doesn’t play out the way you hope then you make a different decision. SO if he choose X college and realizes that it doesn’t suit him he can re-evaluate what he wants from his college in light of all that he has learned (about himself and about college life), and identify other options.
It is a big decision, but he can trust himself to make the best call for who he is now, and what he knows about the alternatives, and even if he later chooses differently that doesn’t mean his first decision was ‘wrong’ -it just means that it is not currently the best place for him.
tl;dr- try & help him bring the anxiety about making the ‘right’ or ‘best’ decision down.
Congrats! I think one significant difference is that at Gettysburg, the social scene is heavily Greek life and there are more “preppy” kids, while Dickinson has less Greek life and the kids are perhaps more down to earth. Both are great schools with great people, just depends on what you’re looking for and where your child best fits.
@zebralover10 That’s helpful. Thank you.
DD is also accepted into both and I am very interested in this discussion.
In our case there is a difference.
She liked Dickinson more. Gettysburg likes her more (she got an Eisenhower scholarship.)
Dickinson probably (still checking) can get her DE credits. Gettysburg takes only 3 classes.
Gettysburg has grading scale A, B, C. Dickinson has A, A-, B+, B, B-etc.
Apparently, Dickinson is still doing ranking! I am not sure how they are ranking Political Science vs. Neuroscience. By GPA? But even that sounds stupid to me…
It is like comparing apples and oranges and tell the one is better.
Do you know if a student is truly independent (in political views) and is not interested in politics, where he/she will fit better in Gettsyburg or Dickinson?
@momsearcheng I found this regarding grading system at Gettysburg: Grading System - Student Rights & Responsibilities - Gettysburg.edu
Thanks! So Google was wrong and I did not check on their website.
I have a son at Gettysburg. I can confirm that the grading system includes +/-. He is an independent and is comfortable there. I do not know anything about Dickinson so can’t offer any input on comparing the two.
Just spoke with both colleges over the phone. Gettysburg gives much better vibe, but it is subjective. Also Gettysburg will try to match your FA with other colleges (if you have better offer from somewhere) and Dickinson said it will not.
Check with schools directly about everything (credits, languages, details about majors, financial aid etc.) We were getting a lot of info wrong even from admissions people. I am glad we called and double check. It is a lot of time and energy, unfortunately…
I am not as familiar with the political culture at Gettysburg so I don’t want to provide any misinformation. As for Dickinson, it tends to be a left-leaning school but there is certainly a strong Republican/Independent presence as well. People may have opinions but it is a welcoming school and politics don’t seem to be a divisive issue on campus. Check out this new initiative they are doing called “Dialogue Across Differences” to promote more conversations across different perspectives: Dickinson’s ‘Civil Dialogue’ Program Renamed ‘Dialogues Across Differences’ | Dickinson College
These colleges are very similar but this really is a case where it’s best for your son to decide.
I believe @zebralover10 is very accurate in terms of overall vibe and comparisons between these two schools. I would not call Dickinson particularly left leaning, but perhaps a bit more so than G’burg. G’burg certainly has more of a reputation for Greek life. That’s appealing to some and not to others.
Dickinson is a little more selective than G’burg. It ranks a little higher than G’burg on USNWR (if your son cares about that), but overall these schools are more alike than they are different. I’d say they are peer schools.
Hi Gettysburg grad here, though that was some 25 years ago. I then coached at Dickinson for a while…And my family visited both last fall with my daughter, who was accepted at both, so she is also weighing this comparison.
In terms of the student community, they are very, very similar and any difference between them is nuanced at best. They both pull the majority of their enrollment from the same high schools in the mid-Atlantic and northeast. Athletics are reasonably influential/important at both.
The Greek life comment about Gettysburg was certainly fair in my time, but that time appears over. Most of the fraternities are long gone (I counted 4 last September, there were 13 when I was there) and most of the former fraternity houses are now affinity housing. My daughter’s tour guide (Troy?) essentially said Greek life was a non-factor; it’s cool if you want to join and cool if you don’t. There is plenty to do on campus, and the tour guide enthusiastically told us about the regular open mic nights in the lower level of the student union.
Politically, I’d say both student communities mostly lean center-left. There may be a few examples of far-left people/events, but for the most part I have found these stop well short of other SLACs, like the NESCACs, where I also have some experience. For the most part, kids at both GBurg and Dickinson are engaged in the political issues of the day, but more focused on their classes and their work than attending a protest.
Both towns are charming small towns. Gettyburg has the battlefields and the crowds they draw, which some may see as a negative, though the restaurant scene has expanded considerably in recent years. Carlisle is also great with several coffee shops/bakeries/restaurants walking distance from campus.
If your son enjoys the outdoors, both offer similar options…Gettysburgians can ski/snowboard at Liberty and Dickinsonians at Rountop. There is good mountain biking, fishing, and hiking near both.
I realize I am not helping much, but at the end of the day I suggest your son consider what he thinks he wants to study and take a deeper dive into those programs - there are some programmatic differences between the two. Another thing to consider is that (I think) Dickinson does offer summer classes whereas GBurg is essentially closed during the summer.
One last thing…check out how the housing options differ as the students progress. In addition to the affinity housing I mentioned, Gettysburg relies heavily on 3 converted hotels for sophomores. Most folks say they’re fine but a few have said it’s less than ideal. The junior/senior housing looks great.
@squaretail Super helpful! Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
@My3SonsSD, I would strongly recommend to visit both again (if you did before) on weekdays.
Gettysburg has Orange and Blue and Dickinson has Devil for a day days. Potential student sits in class, communicate with a local student, eat lunch, and meet professors. They put into it whatever you want since your child is already accepted.
When we visited the first time DD loved Dickinson and was lukewarm with Gettysburg. I think we did not get the best tour guide the first time in Gettysburg somehow. The girl was fine but did not make any of us excited about Gettysburg. It was like a backup plan in case of Dickinson will not work.
After my daughter got an Eisenhower scholarship (that is very exclusive and only 15 kids receive) and since Gettysburg is only an hour from our house I suggested DD visit again. She was ok with it but not too excited. (DD has a lot of admissions with many scholarships since she applied to 20 schools and most were matches or safeties, so she does not get very excited anymore :))
We asked to sit in a class, to meet premed advisor, premed student etc.
OMG. It was a blast! She liked genetics class and actually could follow it (it covered some statistics and genetics that she studied in BIO class last semester). Then we had a lunch with a girl who literally sold us the school. (She does not work for admissions.) Basically, that girl had identical interests to my daughter, was also an Eisenhower scholar and we had the best 45 minutes we could have on campus. She gave us full picture about everything: parties, activities, sororities, fraternities, safety, anything you want. Then we met premed girl who just took MCAT (got a very high score), was extremely supportive, and… again had the same interests as my DD (this time dancing). Then we met a very friendly and open premed advisor and my daughter was sold. She said: " Mom, I am ready to commit…" She finally got the idea to love a school that loves you back, and suddenly we got a fit that was not there before.
She did not commit today only because we are expecting some more results.
BTW this time even with the rain Gettysburg looked more attractive to us. The students were all friendly. They did not look preppy or anything. They were normal great down to earth kids.
My point is a lot of things could change views for your son.
My daughter over her senior year fall out of love with some schools and fall in love with others.
Congratulations to your daughter on her acceptances and the productive visit to Gettysburg! Feeling the love and finding that fit is huge.
My son has acceptances at Dickinson and Gettysburg (and nearby Franklin & Marshall) and our family is also curious about differences and distinctions between the schools.
I was particularly interested in this statement. Was wondering if you are willing to share what you learned about Greek life (and any other aspects of social life) at Gettysburg. Correctly or incorrectly, we perceive Dickinson as much more low key on that front and perhaps a better choice for our son for that reason. But it’s hard to find up-to-date scoop on cultural factors like this. If you’re able to relay any of what you learned, I’d love to hear it.
More broadly to the folks in this thread–Dickinson, Gettysburg, and Franklin & Marshall all have admitted student days over April 14-15. (Gettysburg has another the following weekend as well, but our son has a school trip.) Our family is currently registered for the Dickinson event but contemplating the others. Anyone trying to make 2 or even 3 of these events? If so, any thoughts on how you’re going about it or which parts are most valuable?
@momsearcheng Thanks again and very happy for your daughter!
My daughter got in to F&M and Dickinson and can’t attend either admitted student day due to her school musical. But we are going to Dickinson on 3/30 for a “devil for a day event” where they will pair her up with a current student to shadow. We then are going to F&M on 3/31 for an extended visit day - which is tour, info session and class visit.
All. From our surprise experience that actually school came up with (we asked to meet, but it turned out to eat is a whole different level ). Ask whatever school for a LUNCH with a student who has similar interests as your student (waterver it is - same background based on sport, culture, religious activities whatever your child is into.)
And again in my opinion individual visits on week days are much better than school organized ra, ra, crowded events with presentations from admission and presidents that waste a lot of time but do not appeal to your particular student. They all look the same . If a school can do overnight visit even better but few do after Covid.
@momsearcheng thank you for this! My daughter has been applying to similar schools as yours so it’s been great to follow your thoughts throughout the process. My daughter had the exact same feeling between Dickinson and Gettysburg when we first looked at both schools. Like you, when Gettysburg came back to us with the Eisenhower Scholarship, we decided that we need to take another look. We haven’t been back yet, but are planning on going mid-April for a weekend. Your comments about your tour, etc, this time around were reassuring. Dickinson has fallen to the bottom half of my daughters list simply because it “doesn’t have anything special.” The other schools she is seriously considering all have programs that are of great interest to her beyond just basic Biology for a pre-med type of future (she wants to go to PA school for sports medicine) .
What were your thoughts on Greek life at Gettysburg? That is the one true unknown for us at the moment.
Also, is it ok if I PM you? I have some Eisenhower questions that maybe you’ll be able to answer…