Dartmouth and Swarthmore: Which College is Right for You?

July 13, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Dartmouth and Swarthmore: Which College is Right for You?

Choosing the right college can have a significant impact on your future. With numerous colleges available, making the right decision can be overwhelming. Dartmouth and Swarthmore are two top-rated colleges, but which one to choose? In this article, we’ve compared the colleges accordingly.

Location and Campus Setting: The Differences between Dartmouth and Swarthmore

Dartmouth and Swarthmore are both located in the Northeastern part of the United States. However, they differ significantly in their campus setting. Dartmouth is located near the White Mountains of New Hampshire, providing students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature.

Swarthmore, on the other hand, is located in a suburb of Philadelphia, giving students the chance to explore the city. Students at Swarthmore also have access to numerous cultural events in the area, such as the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Philly Pops.

Despite their differences in campus settings, both Dartmouth and Swarthmore offer unique opportunities for students. Dartmouth’s location near the White Mountains allows for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and camping.

women and man riding on bikes at sunset

The college also has its own skiway, providing students with easy access to winter sports. Swarthmore, on the other hand, offers students the chance to participate in community service projects in Philadelphia. The college has partnerships with local organizations, allowing students to make a positive impact in the city.

Another difference between the two colleges is their size. Dartmouth has a larger undergraduate population, with over 4,000 students, while Swarthmore has just over 1,600. This difference in size can impact the student experience, with smaller colleges often providing a more intimate and personalized education. However, Dartmouth’s larger size also means a wider range of academic programs and extracurricular activities for students to choose from.

Admissions Requirements and Selectivity: Which College is More Competitive?

Dartmouth and Swarthmore are highly selective colleges, but the admission requirements and selectivity differ. Dartmouth requires prospective students to submit their standardized test scores, transcripts, teacher recommendations, and essays.

Swarthmore, on the other hand, is test-optional, meaning that students can choose whether or not to submit their test scores. Swarthmore focuses more heavily on a student’s college essay and extracurricular activities when considering an application. Dartmouth’s acceptance rate is lower compared to Swarthmore’s, making it more challenging to gain acceptance.

It is important to note that while Dartmouth has a lower acceptance rate, Swarthmore is known for its rigorous academic program and high standards for its students. Swarthmore also has a smaller student body, which allows for more personalized attention from professors and a tight-knit community.

Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a larger student body and a strong emphasis on its athletic programs. Ultimately, the decision between these two highly selective colleges will depend on a student’s individual preferences and priorities.

Academic Programs: A Comparison of Dartmouth and Swarthmore’s Offerings

Both Dartmouth and Swarthmore offer a wide range of academic programs. Dartmouth offers undergraduate degrees in various fields, including engineering, social sciences, and languages. Swarthmore is known for its strong liberal arts program, offering majors in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Both colleges have exceptional faculties and attract renowned researchers and educators.

College students walking in the campus.

However, there are some differences in the academic programs offered by Dartmouth and Swarthmore. Dartmouth has a strong focus on research and offers many opportunities for students to engage in research projects with faculty members.

Swarthmore, on the other hand, emphasizes interdisciplinary studies and encourages students to explore different fields of study. Additionally, Swarthmore has a unique program called the Honors Program, which allows students to conduct independent research and write a thesis in their senior year.

Faculty and Student Ratio: How Does Dartmouth Compare to Swarthmore?

Faculty and student ratios can significantly impact a student’s learning experience. Dartmouth has a relatively low faculty-to-student ratio, meaning that students receive significant individual attention from their professors. Swarthmore has an even lower ratio, providing students with more personal interaction with their professors.

However, it’s important to note that a low faculty-to-student ratio doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better learning experience. Other factors such as the quality of teaching, curriculum, and resources available also play a significant role. Additionally, some students may prefer a larger class size and less individual attention from professors. It ultimately depends on the individual student’s learning style and preferences.

Student Life: A Look at the Campus Culture at Dartmouth and Swarthmore

Student life at Dartmouth and Swarthmore centers on their unique campus cultures. Dartmouth has a robust Greek life scene, with a majority of students participating in fraternities or sororities.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Swarthmore is known for its small and tight-knit community, with many students participating in student-run organizations and groups. Both colleges offer numerous opportunities for students to get involved in various extracurricular activities or clubs.

At Dartmouth, students can also participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and kayaking. The college is located in a picturesque New England town, surrounded by mountains and forests, providing ample opportunities for students to explore the outdoors. Swarthmore, on the other hand, is located just outside of Philadelphia, offering students easy access to the city’s cultural and historical attractions.

Both colleges also prioritize academic excellence, with rigorous coursework and dedicated faculty members. Dartmouth is known for its strong programs in the sciences and engineering, while Swarthmore is renowned for its liberal arts curriculum. Students at both colleges have access to research opportunities and internships, preparing them for successful careers after graduation.

Extracurricular Activities: What Opportunities Are Available at Each College?

Dartmouth and Swarthmore offer an extensive range of extracurricular activities for students to explore. Dartmouth students can participate in various athletic teams, such as skiing and hockey, while Swarthmore’s Division III sports program provides students with opportunities to engage in athletic activities at a less intense level. Swarthmore also offers a wide range of student-run organizations, including political and social justice organizations, acapella groups, and theatrical productions.

Additionally, both colleges offer opportunities for students to engage in community service and volunteer work. Dartmouth’s Tucker Foundation provides students with various service opportunities, including tutoring and mentoring programs, while Swarthmore’s Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility offers community service projects and internships. Both colleges also have active student government associations, which allow students to get involved in campus leadership and decision-making.

Athletics Programs: A Comparison of Dartmouth’s Big-Ten Athletics and Swarthmore’s Division III Sports

Dartmouth is a member of the Ivy League, which is known for its strong athletic programs, including football and basketball. Swarthmore is a Division III school, offering a more relaxed and less intense athletic environment for students. Both colleges take athletics seriously and encourage students to participate in various sports programs.

Despite the differences in athletic divisions, both Dartmouth and Swarthmore offer a wide range of sports programs for students to participate in. Dartmouth has 35 varsity sports teams, while Swarthmore has 22 varsity sports teams. In addition to varsity sports, both colleges also offer club and intramural sports programs, allowing students of all skill levels to get involved in athletics.

Another difference between the two colleges is the level of competition in their respective athletic conferences. Dartmouth competes in the Big Ten conference, which includes some of the top athletic programs in the country.

Swarthmore competes in the Centennial Conference, which is made up of smaller liberal arts colleges in the Northeast. While the level of competition may be different, both conferences provide opportunities for student-athletes to compete at a high level and represent their schools.

Campus Facilities: Which College Offers Better Resources for Students?

Dartmouth and Swarthmore offer numerous resources for their students. Dartmouth has state-of-the-art science facilities and technological resources, while Swarthmore has excellent humanities and social sciences facilities. Swarthmore’s campus is also home to the Scott Arboretum, providing students with a beautiful outdoor space to relax and enjoy nature.

Group of students walking in the campus.

In addition to these resources, Dartmouth also offers a variety of athletic facilities, including a gymnasium, swimming pool, and multiple sports fields. Swarthmore, on the other hand, has a strong focus on sustainability and offers many eco-friendly facilities, such as a LEED-certified science center and a green roof on one of its buildings. Both colleges prioritize providing their students with top-notch resources and facilities to enhance their academic and personal experiences.

Cost of Attendance: A Breakdown of Tuition, Room, and Board at Dartmouth vs. Swarthmore

The cost of attendance at Dartmouth and Swarthmore can vary significantly. Dartmouth is an Ivy League school, making it more costly than Swarthmore. However, both schools offer various scholarships and financial aid programs to assist with covering the cost of attendance for their students.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance can also depend on the student’s individual circumstances. For example, if a student chooses to live off-campus or has a meal plan that differs from the standard options, their overall cost of attendance may be different.

Additionally, students may have additional expenses such as textbooks, transportation, and personal expenses that should be factored into their budget when considering the cost of attendance at either school.

Alumni Network: Examining the Influence of Dartmouth and Swarthmore Graduates in the Professional World

Both Dartmouth and Swarthmore have strong alumni networks, with graduates working in various fields. Dartmouth alumni have found success in business, politics, and entertainment, while Swarthmore alumni have achieved success in fields such as law, medicine, and academia.

However, the influence of these alumni networks extends beyond just individual success stories. Dartmouth and Swarthmore graduates often use their connections to help current students and recent graduates find job opportunities and make valuable professional connections. These alumni networks also provide a sense of community and support for graduates, as they navigate their careers and personal lives.

Career Services and Opportunities: Which College Offers Better Support for Students’ Career Development?

Both Dartmouth and Swarthmore offer excellent career services and opportunities for their students. Dartmouth’s career center provides students with resources for finding internships, networking opportunities, and counseling. Swarthmore’s career center offers similar resources, with additional support for students interested in pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector.

business students brainstorming

However, while both colleges offer great career services, there are some differences in the types of opportunities available. Dartmouth has a strong focus on business and finance, with many alumni working in these fields.

This means that students interested in these areas have access to a large network of alumni and resources. On the other hand, Swarthmore has a strong emphasis on social justice and activism, with many alumni working in nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups. This means that students interested in these areas have unique opportunities to connect with alumni and gain experience in these fields.

Student Diversity: Comparing the Racial, Ethnic, and Socioeconomic Makeup of Dartmouth and Swarthmore

Student diversity is an essential factor to consider when choosing a college. Dartmouth and Swarthmore have different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic makeup. Swarthmore has a more diverse student population, with a higher percentage of non-white students and students coming from lower-income households than Dartmouth.

However, Dartmouth has been making efforts to increase diversity in recent years. The school has implemented programs to recruit and support students from underrepresented backgrounds, and has seen an increase in the number of students of color and first-generation college students.

Additionally, both Dartmouth and Swarthmore have active student organizations and initiatives focused on promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. These groups provide a supportive community for students from diverse backgrounds and work to educate the broader campus community on issues related to diversity and social justice.


Choosing between Dartmouth and Swarthmore comes down to personal preference and priorities. Both colleges offer unique and exceptional academic programs, extracurricular activities, and campus cultures. By considering the various factors discussed in this article, you can determine which college is the best fit for you.

It is important to note that while both Dartmouth and Swarthmore have similar academic rigor, they differ in their approach to education. Dartmouth emphasizes a liberal arts education with a strong focus on undergraduate research opportunities, while Swarthmore places a greater emphasis on interdisciplinary studies and social responsibility. Additionally, Dartmouth has a larger student body and a more traditional campus setting, while Swarthmore has a smaller student body and a more intimate campus community.

Segue to AdmissionSight

At AdmissionSight, we firmly uphold the conviction that every student is entitled to the chance to pursue their dreams at their preferred college. Our mission is to equip you with the expert advice and unwavering support you need to secure a place at the schools you aspire to attend.

Don’t let your future hinge on uncertainty. Reach out to AdmissionSight today to arrange a complimentary consultation and embark on the journey toward realizing your dreams. With our expert mentorship and steadfast support, the sky’s the limit.


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