Denison or Dickinson for a nerdy / artsy / quirky kid?

Hello! My daughter has been admitted to both Denison and Dickinson. She is somewhat nerdy, artsy, LGBTQ, quiet, isn’t into sports or greek life. She will be studying biology (her eventual goal is zoology or the like,) and will probably minor in studio art. She doesn’t really care if the surrounding town is big or small and the money is the same for both. We’ve visited both and she liked them but it was hard to get a vibe off of a quick visit during Covid. Of these two, which would be the better choice for her?

I’d go for Dickinson. I don’t have a lot of knowledge of Denison, but I understand that it’s got a sportier, Greekier vibe.


I visited Dickinson with my D and liked it (although she ended up elsewhere) – I think it would work for your D as well. I can’t help you with Dennison.

If you haven’t done so yet you should read up on these schools in some good guide books (ex. Fiske, Insiders Guide, Princeton Review), look on Niche, and go through the school-specific forums here on CC. See if there are any accepted student activities (perhaps there are some online due to covid?). See if there are accepted student facebook (or whatever) pages for the two schools she can join to try to get a sense of who may be going. Also your D should look to see if she can read the two school newspapers online to get a better sense of life at each place. Also check the course catalogues of both schools (they area almost all online) to see if one has more options/provides a better academic fit in her area of interest.

IMO there isn’t always one right answer. Both schools would likely serve her well. There is some luck involved – with roommates, professors etc.

Congratulations on your D having two fine choices.


@lindagaf – that assumption about Denison vs. Dickinson is not really true. My Denison grad went through recruiting at Dickinson so we visited multiple times and we know a handful of recent alums, including extended family members. Both schools have a “nice kid” campus culture – kind, engaged, not polarized politically etc. Both have roughly similar greek life participation. Distinguishing features at Dickinson are focus on global connections and sustainability while at Denison it is fine and performing arts as well as “living with diversity.” Studio art facilities are great at both schools, as my kid was looking a possible studio art minor. Both schools have roughly similar percentage athletes on campus and, having attended sporting events at both schools, it’s not like the whole campus turns out for a game, mostly it is parents and the players’ close friends, stands are not packed and sports are irrelevant to those who aren’t interested.


Based on the description of your daughter & her interests, I would lean toward Dickinson College, but, to be sure, do a coin flip & see how the result affects your daughter; then you should know for certain which is the better choice.


Good to know.

What do you mean by “living with diversity?” Thank you!

Denison focuses not just on having a diverse student body, but having a student body which actively engages “across difference.” President Weinberg, and the administration, prioritizes, and works to create structures, to encourage students to interact across their differences. While some kids will certainly stay within their “pod,” the overall culture is one of engagement and being involved with lots of different organizations and activities, and not being defined by single activity or aspect of the student experience.


Thank you!!!

Dickinson. Fantastic school. Plus the energy and character and history of downtown Carlisle are truly special. The Adirondack trail also goes right by the area, with lovely mountains nearby — all the outdoor activities one could want as well.

She did end up deciding on Denison. Thanks so much for your help!



Congrats! I’m sure she will have a great 4-years on the hill.

Congratulations! I hope she enjoys Denison as much as my son does! It’s a wonderful school.

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