Caltech vs Dartmouth: A Comprehensive Analysis

July 12, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Two students talking in a room full of glass.

Caltech vs Dartmouth: A Comprehensive Analysis

When it comes to choosing the right college, it’s important to consider a variety of factors to ensure the best fit for your academic and personal goals. Two top-ranked institutions that often come up in this conversation are the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Dartmouth College. In this article, we will compare Caltech vs Dartmouth across various categories to highlight their similarities and differences.

Group of student smiling at each other while talking.

Location and Campus Comparison

Caltech is located in Pasadena, California, and its campus covers 124 acres of land. It’s in close proximity to several famous attractions, such as the Rose Bowl and Griffith Observatory. On the other hand, Dartmouth College is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, and its campus spans 269 acres. It’s surrounded by the natural beauty of the White Mountains and offers stunning outdoor recreational activities. The two campuses have different types of weather; Caltech’s climate is typically dry and sunny, while Dartmouth experiences cold winters and summers with mild humidity.

Despite their differences, both Caltech and Dartmouth offer unique opportunities for their students. Caltech’s location in Southern California provides access to a thriving tech industry and a diverse cultural scene. Dartmouth’s location in the Northeast offers opportunities for students to engage in research and internships in fields such as healthcare and finance. Additionally, both campuses have a strong sense of community and offer a variety of extracurricular activities for students to get involved in.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered

Caltech offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Dartmouth, on the other hand, offers over 60 majors across various disciplines, including engineering, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Both institutions offer interdisciplinary programs that allow students to tailor their education to their interests and goals.

In addition to the traditional majors offered, both Caltech and Dartmouth also provide opportunities for students to pursue unique and specialized fields of study. Caltech’s Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences offers majors in geology, geophysics, and planetary science, while Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers majors in neuroscience and cognitive science. These programs provide students with the chance to explore cutting-edge research and make significant contributions to their respective fields.

Faculty and Student Population at Caltech vs. Dartmouth

Caltech has a small student body of around 1,000 undergraduates and graduate students, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 3:1. Faculty members at Caltech are renowned for their research contributions and have received several prestigious awards, including Nobel Prizes. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a larger student population of around 6,000 undergraduates and graduate students, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1. The faculty at Dartmouth are also highly accomplished and have been recognized for their research and teaching excellence.

Despite the differences in size, both Caltech and Dartmouth offer a rigorous academic experience for their students. Caltech is known for its strong focus on STEM fields, with majors such as physics, engineering, and computer science being popular among students. Dartmouth, on the other hand, offers a liberal arts education with a wide range of majors, including anthropology, economics, and psychology.

Another notable difference between the two institutions is their location. Caltech is located in Pasadena, California, which is known for its warm weather and proximity to Los Angeles. Dartmouth, on the other hand, is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, which is known for its picturesque New England scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities.

Admission Requirements and Selectivity

Admission to both Caltech and Dartmouth is highly selective, with acceptance rates of 6% and 8%, respectively. Both institutions require applicants to submit transcripts, standardized test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. Caltech also requires applicants to complete additional science and math subject tests. Dartmouth takes a holistic approach to admissions and considers factors such as extracurricular activities, leadership, and community involvement.

Young woman smiling in the school halls.

It is important to note that meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance to either institution. Both Caltech and Dartmouth receive a large number of highly qualified applicants each year, making the admissions process extremely competitive. In addition, both institutions have a limited number of spots available for incoming students, further increasing the selectivity of the admissions process.

Despite the rigorous admissions process, both Caltech and Dartmouth offer generous financial aid packages to admitted students. Caltech meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, while Dartmouth offers need-based financial aid as well as merit-based scholarships. This commitment to making education accessible to all qualified students is a key aspect of both institutions’ missions.

Tuition and Financial Aid Comparison

Caltech’s tuition and fees cost around $53,000 per year, while Dartmouth’s tuition and fees cost around $57,000 per year. Both institutions offer financial aid to help offset the costs of attendance, and both are need-blind in their admissions processes. Caltech meets 100% of demonstrated financial needs for students, while Dartmouth meets 100% of demonstrated needs for students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

It is important to note that both Caltech and Dartmouth offer various forms of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Caltech’s financial aid packages are primarily need-based, while Dartmouth also offers merit-based scholarships. Additionally, both institutions have resources available to help students navigate the financial aid process and make informed decisions about financing their education.

Extracurricular Activities and Campus Life Differences

Caltech and Dartmouth offer a range of extracurricular activities for students to get involved in, from sports clubs and performance groups to community service and research opportunities. Caltech is known for its quirky traditions, such as the annual “Ditch Day,” where seniors pull elaborate pranks on underclassmen. Dartmouth is known for its Greek life culture and outdoor recreational activities, such as skiing, hiking, and kayaking. Students at both institutions are highly engaged in campus life and work hard to create a strong sense of community.

However, there are some notable differences in the types of extracurricular activities offered at each institution. Caltech places a strong emphasis on STEM-related clubs and organizations, such as robotics and coding clubs, while Dartmouth offers a wider range of options, including a renowned theater program and a student-run radio station. Additionally, Dartmouth’s location in rural New Hampshire provides unique opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, while Caltech’s urban location in Pasadena, California, offers access to cultural events and museums in the surrounding area.

Athletics Comparison: Caltech vs Dartmouth

Caltech is a Division III NCAA school and offers 17 varsity sports teams, including basketball, cross-country, soccer, and swimming. Dartmouth is a Division I NCAA school and has 34 varsity sports teams, including football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and skiing. Both institutions prioritize academic excellence over athletics.

Sports equipments placed on a grass turf.

Despite the difference in the number of sports teams offered, both Caltech and Dartmouth have a strong emphasis on student-athlete well-being. Caltech’s athletic department provides resources such as sports medicine, strength and conditioning, and mental health support to ensure that their athletes are able to balance their academic and athletic commitments. Similarly, Dartmouth’s athletic department has a dedicated sports medicine team and offers academic support services to its student-athletes. Both schools also have a strong tradition of sportsmanship and fair play, with a focus on developing well-rounded individuals both on and off the field.

Research Opportunities for Students at Both Institutions

Both Caltech and Dartmouth offer significant research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Caltech is known for its cutting-edge research in STEM fields, including astrophysics, engineering, and chemistry. Dartmouth also has a strong research emphasis, with research areas spanning from health sciences to humanities and social sciences.

At Caltech, students have the opportunity to work alongside renowned faculty members on groundbreaking research projects. The university’s close proximity to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory also provides unique opportunities for students interested in space exploration and technology. Additionally, Caltech’s undergraduate research program allows students to conduct independent research projects and present their findings at conferences.

Dartmouth’s research opportunities extend beyond traditional academic fields. The school’s Tuck School of Business offers students the chance to participate in research projects focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice conducts research on healthcare delivery and policy, while the Thayer School of Engineering focuses on engineering solutions for global challenges such as climate change and energy sustainability.

Alumni Networks and Career Outcomes for Graduates

Caltech and Dartmouth have robust alumni networks that provide support and mentorship for graduates. Alumni from both institutions are highly successful in their fields and have achieved major accomplishments in science, technology, business, and the arts. Graduates from both institutions can expect strong career outcomes, with high rates of employment and prestigious graduate school acceptances.

In addition to the support and mentorship provided by alumni networks, Caltech and Dartmouth also offer extensive career services to their graduates. These services include job search assistance, resume and cover letter reviews, and networking events with potential employers. Graduates from both institutions have access to these resources for life, ensuring that they are well-equipped to navigate the job market and advance in their careers.

Social Life at Caltech vs. Dartmouth: A Comparative Analysis

Social life at Caltech and Dartmouth is quite different due to the size of the student population and location. Caltech’s small size means that social events are more intimate and student-driven, with a focus on building connections within their community. Dartmouth’s larger size and location in a small New England town provide ample opportunities for social events and outdoor activities.

Another factor that contributes to the difference in social life between Caltech and Dartmouth is the academic rigor of the institutions. Caltech’s intense focus on STEM fields means that students often have less free time to devote to social activities. On the other hand, Dartmouth’s liberal arts curriculum allows for a more balanced workload, giving students more time to participate in extracurriculars and social events.

Additionally, the cultural diversity of the student body also plays a role in shaping the social scene at both institutions. Caltech’s student body is predominantly made up of international students and those from STEM backgrounds, which can lead to a more niche social scene. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a more diverse student body with a wider range of interests and backgrounds, leading to a more varied social scene.

Diversity and Inclusion Efforts: Caltech vs Dartmouth

Both Caltech and Dartmouth are committed to fostering diversity and inclusion on their campuses. Caltech has various initiatives to support underrepresented minority students in STEM fields, such as the Sloan Research Fellowships and the Women in Chemistry program. Dartmouth also has several initiatives to promote diversity and inclusivity, such as the “Inclusive Excellence” plan and the Center for Social Impact. However, both institutions recognize that there is still work to be done in this area.

Male student answering an exam with his fellow classmates.

Caltech has also implemented a program called “Caltech for Black Lives,” which aims to address systemic racism and promote racial justice on campus. This program includes a series of workshops, discussions, and events to educate the community and create a more inclusive environment for Black students, faculty, and staff.

Similarly, Dartmouth has recently launched the “First-Generation Network” to support students who are the first in their families to attend college. This program provides resources and mentorship to help these students navigate the challenges of higher education and succeed academically and professionally.

Student Housing Options Compared: Caltech vs Dartmouth

Caltech offers campus housing for all undergraduate students, with several different housing options that cater to students’ needs and preferences. Dartmouth also offers campus housing for all undergraduate students, with a variety of housing options ranging from traditional dormitories to apartments and houses. Both institutions prioritize student safety and well-being in their housing policies and practices.

However, there are some differences between the two institutions’ housing options. Caltech’s housing is primarily located on campus, while Dartmouth’s housing is spread out across several different areas of campus. Additionally, Caltech’s housing is known for its modern and sleek design, while Dartmouth’s housing has a more traditional and historic feel. Despite these differences, both institutions offer comfortable and convenient housing options for their students.

Campus Safety Concerns: A Comparison of Caltech and Dartmouth

Caltech and Dartmouth are both safe campuses, with low rates of crime and a strong focus on campus safety. Caltech has its own Campus Security department, while Dartmouth has its own Campus Safety and Security office, which works in close collaboration with local law enforcement. Both institutions have various safety measures in place, including emergency response procedures and safety education initiatives.

However, there are some differences in the specific safety concerns that each campus faces. Caltech, located in the urban area of Pasadena, California, has a higher risk of theft and property damage. As a result, the campus has implemented additional security measures, such as security cameras and increased patrols in high-risk areas. On the other hand, Dartmouth, located in the rural area of Hanover, New Hampshire, has a lower risk of theft but a higher risk of wildlife encounters, particularly with bears. The campus has implemented safety measures such as bear-proof trash cans and education programs on how to interact safely with wildlife.

Notable Achievements of Caltech vs. Dartmouth in the Past Decade

In the past decade, both Caltech and Dartmouth have made significant strides in various areas. Caltech was ranked as the number one university in the world by the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings in 2016 and has received several major research grants, including a $115 million grant from the Keck Foundation and $700 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Dartmouth has also had notable achievements, such as being ranked as the number one college in America by Forbes in 2019 and receiving a $40 million gift from the Arthur L. Irving family to support student scholarships and research initiatives.

In conclusion, both Caltech and Dartmouth are outstanding universities that offer unique academic and personal experiences. Their similarities and differences across various categories should be carefully considered when making a decision regarding where to apply and enroll as a student.

One area where Caltech has particularly excelled in the past decade is in the field of astronomy. The university’s Palomar Observatory, located in San Diego County, California, has been instrumental in several groundbreaking discoveries, including the detection of the first known interstellar object, ‘Oumuamua, in 2017. Caltech’s astronomy department has also been involved in the development of several cutting-edge telescopes, such as the Zwicky Transient Facility and the Thirty Meter Telescope, which are poised to revolutionize our understanding of the universe.


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