Dartmouth vs. USC: Which School is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Three students using a laptop in a table.

Dartmouth vs. USC: Which School is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing the right college to attend, factors such as location, academic programs, admission requirements, financial aid, campus life, faculty, research opportunities, safety measures, and all other important considerations. In this article, we will compare two prestigious universities, Dartmouth vs. USC, across all of these dimensions.

By the end of this article, you should have a clearer sense of which school may be the better fit for you, depending on your academic interests, career goals, personality, and financial situation.

Location and Campus Environment: Dartmouth vs USC

One of the first things to think about when choosing a college is its location and campus environment. Dartmouth College is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a small college town surrounded by mountains and forests. If you love the outdoors and want to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities, Dartmouth may be a great fit for you.

USC, on the other hand, is situated in Los Angeles, California, one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse cities in the world. If you crave the excitement and opportunities that come with living in a metropolis, USC may be your dream school. Both Dartmouth and USC have beautiful campuses, but they offer very different lifestyles and atmospheres.

Another factor to consider when comparing the location and campus environment of Dartmouth and USC is the weather. Hanover experiences all four seasons, with cold winters and warm summers. This can be a plus for those who enjoy outdoor winter activities like skiing and snowboarding.

USC, on the other hand, has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. This can be a great option for those who prefer warmer weather and enjoy outdoor activities year-round.

Additionally, the location of each school can impact the types of internships and job opportunities available to students. Hanover is a small town with limited job opportunities, but Dartmouth has strong connections with companies and organizations in nearby cities like Boston and New York.

USC, being located in Los Angeles, offers a wide range of internship and job opportunities in various industries, including entertainment, technology, and business.

Academic Programs and Majors: Dartmouth vs. USC

Another key factor to consider when choosing a college is its academic programs and majors. Dartmouth College has a strong liberal arts tradition and offers more than 50 majors, ranging from anthropology to computer science to public policy.

University students checking something in a notebook.

Dartmouth also has a specialized program called the D-Plan, which allows students to customize their academic schedules by taking off-campus terms, internships, research projects, and study abroad programs.

USC, meanwhile, is known for its professional schools, including the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, the Viterbi School of Engineering, the Gould School of Law, and the Thornton School of Music.

USC also offers a wide range of majors in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, but it may be a better fit for students who are interested in pursuing a career in business, film, fashion, or entertainment.

It is worth noting that both Dartmouth and USC offer opportunities for interdisciplinary studies. At Dartmouth, students can pursue a double major or a major-minor combination, allowing them to explore different fields of study and gain a well-rounded education.

USC offers a number of interdisciplinary programs, such as the Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation, which combines design, engineering, and entrepreneurship.

Additionally, both colleges have strong research programs and opportunities for undergraduate research. Dartmouth has a number of research centers and institutes, including the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

USC has a number of research centers and institutes as well, such as the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.

Admission Requirements: Dartmouth vs USC

Of course, getting into your dream school is an important step in the college selection process. Dartmouth College is one of the most selective colleges in the nation, with an acceptance rate of around 9%. Dartmouth looks for students who are academically strong, intellectually curious, community-oriented, and diverse in their perspectives and experiences.

USC, while still highly selective, may admit a larger number of students than Dartmouth, with an acceptance rate of around 16%. USC looks for students who are passionate, creative, entrepreneurial, and committed to making a positive impact on the world.

Both Dartmouth and USC require standardized test scores, transcripts, essays, and recommendations, but they may weigh different factors in their evaluations.

It is important to note that both Dartmouth and USC offer early decision and early action options for applicants. Early decision is a binding agreement, meaning that if a student is accepted, they must attend the school. Early action is non-binding, allowing students to apply to multiple schools and make a decision later.

However, early decision and early action deadlines are typically earlier than regular decision deadlines, so it is important to plan accordingly.

In addition, both Dartmouth and USC offer need-based and merit-based financial aid to help make college more affordable for students. It is important to research and understand the financial aid options available at each school and to submit all necessary forms and applications on time to be considered for aid.

Financial Aid and Scholarships: Dartmouth vs USC

Paying for college is a daunting task, but both Dartmouth and USC offer generous financial aid and scholarships to help ease the burden. Dartmouth meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, regardless of their citizenship or background.

This means that if you qualify for financial aid based on your family’s income and assets, Dartmouth will cover your full demonstrated need with grants, work-study, and loans, without expecting you to take out excessive debt.

Dartmouth also offers merit scholarships, athletics scholarships, and scholarships for students who are pursuing certain fields or activities. USC also offers need-based financial aid, as well as merit scholarships and talent scholarships for students who excel academically, artistically, or athletically.

However, USC may have higher tuition and cost of living than Dartmouth, especially if you live off-campus in Los Angeles.

It’s important to note that both Dartmouth and USC have different application processes for financial aid and scholarships. Dartmouth requires students to submit the CSS Profile and the FAFSA, while USC requires the CSS Profile, the FAFSA, and the Noncustodial PROFILE (if applicable).

Additionally, USC has a separate scholarship application that students must complete in order to be considered for merit and talent scholarships. It’s important to carefully review each school’s financial aid and scholarship requirements and deadlines to ensure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities for funding.

Campus Life and Extracurricular Activities: Dartmouth vs. USC

Group of students walking while holding her books.

When you’re not studying or attending classes, what do you want to do with your free time? Dartmouth College and USC offer a wide variety of campus life and extracurricular activities that cater to different interests and passions.

Dartmouth has more than 300 student organizations, including social clubs, service groups, arts clubs, sports teams, political associations, and publications. Dartmouth is also home to the only Ivy League Greek system, which comprises about 60% of the student body and emphasizes community service, leadership development, and academic excellence.

USC has over 900 student organizations, including cultural clubs, academic clubs, volunteer groups, sports clubs, and special interest groups. USC is also known for its Trojan Marching Band, its Spirit of Troy cheering section, and its many traditions, such as lighting the torch at the Trojan Shrine and rubbing the nose of the Tommy Trojan statue for good luck.

Both Dartmouth and USC offer a range of opportunities for students to get involved in research and internships. Dartmouth’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) provides funding and support for students to conduct independent research projects with faculty mentors.

USC’s Career Center offers resources and guidance for students to find internships and job opportunities in various fields, including entertainment, technology, and business. USC also has a strong alumni network that can provide valuable connections and mentorship for students seeking career advice and guidance.

Student Diversity and Inclusivity: Dartmouth vs USC

College is a time of growth, challenge, and discovery, and it’s important to feel supported and valued as you navigate the complexities of identity, culture, and social justice. Dartmouth College and USC have different histories and contexts when it comes to diversity and inclusivity, but both are committed to creating a respectful, equitable, and inclusive environment for all students.

Dartmouth has long promoted diversity and social justice with initiatives such as the Montgomery Fellows Program, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, and the Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical Life. Dartmouth also has several affinity groups, including those for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, first-generation college students, and international students.

USC, while still grappling with some of the challenges of diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry and beyond, has made significant strides in recent years to promote equity and access, with initiatives such as the USC Race and Equity Center, the LGBTQ+ Student Center, and the Office of International Services.

Despite their efforts, both Dartmouth and USC still have work to do in terms of creating a truly inclusive environment. Dartmouth has faced criticism for its lack of faculty diversity, with only 4% of tenured faculty members identifying as Black, Latinx, or Native American.

USC has also faced criticism for its handling of sexual assault cases and its lack of diversity in leadership positions. However, both institutions are actively working to address these issues and create a more diverse and inclusive community for all students.

Job Placement and Career Services: Dartmouth vs USC

The ultimate goal of going to college is to prepare for a fulfilling and successful career. Dartmouth College and USC both have extensive resources and support systems to help students explore, pursue, and achieve their professional goals.

Dartmouth has a robust career services office, which offers career counseling, resume reviews, mock interviews, networking events, and access to alumni mentors. Dartmouth also has a strong alumni network, with graduates working in a wide range of fields, from finance to education to medicine to the arts.

USC also has a comprehensive career center, which provides similar services and programs, as well as resources specific to its professional schools and industries. USC also has a powerful alumni network, particularly in the entertainment and media industries, with graduates working at companies such as Disney, Warner Bros., and Netflix.

However, there are some differences between the two schools when it comes to job placement and career services. Dartmouth has a smaller student body and a more intimate campus community, which can lead to more personalized attention and support from career advisors and alumni mentors.

Two law students talking on a long table.

USC, on the other hand, has a larger and more diverse student body, which can provide more opportunities for networking and exposure to different industries and career paths.

Another factor to consider is location. Dartmouth is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, which is a small town in a rural area. While this can provide a peaceful and focused environment for studying and career exploration, it may also limit access to certain industries and job markets.

USC, on the other hand, is located in Los Angeles, California, which is a major hub for entertainment, media, technology, and other industries. This can provide students with more opportunities for internships, job shadowing, and networking, but it may also be more competitive and overwhelming.

Sports Programs and Athletic Facilities: Dartmouth vs USC

If you’re a sports fan or an athlete yourself, you may want to consider the sports programs and athletic facilities of Dartmouth College and USC. Dartmouth has a long and storied history in intercollegiate athletics, with 34 NCAA Division I teams and a strong rivalry with other Ivy League schools.

Dartmouth’s varsity sports include football, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing, among others. Dartmouth also has several club sports and intramural sports, catering to a wide range of interests. USC, meanwhile, is known for its successful football program, which has won 11 national championships and produced many NFL stars.

USC also has varsity teams in other sports, such as basketball, volleyball, water polo, and tennis. USC’s athletic facilities are top-notch, with state-of-the-art stadiums, arenas, pools, and gyms.

Alumni Network and Reputation: Dartmouth vs USC

The prestige and reputation of a college can have a major impact on your post-graduation opportunities and perceptions. Dartmouth College and USC are both highly respected institutions, but they have different strengths and advantages.

Dartmouth is a member of the Ivy League, a group of eight elite universities known for their academic excellence, intellectual rigor, and long history of producing world leaders. Dartmouth is also renowned for its undergraduate research opportunities, its liberal arts curriculum, and its emphasis on cultivating critical thinking and global citizenship.

USC, while not part of the Ivy League, is still widely considered one of the best universities in the country, particularly in fields such as film, business, and engineering. USC is also known for its innovation, entrepreneurship, and alumni network, which includes many influential figures in the entertainment and tech industries.

Faculty and Class Size: Dartmouth vs. USC

The quality of the faculty and the size of the classes can greatly affect your academic experience and outcomes. Dartmouth College and USC have different teaching styles and faculty structures, but they both boast accomplished and dedicated professors.

Dartmouth has a student-faculty ratio of 7:1, one of the lowest in the country, which means that you will have plenty of opportunities to interact with your professors and receive personalized attention. Dartmouth’s faculty includes many renowned scholars, scientists, and artists who are passionate about teaching and mentoring.

USC has a slightly higher student-faculty ratio, around 9:1, but still maintains a strong commitment to undergraduate education. USC’s faculty includes many prominent professionals and industry leaders who bring real-world experience and connections to the classroom. USC also has a diverse and inclusive faculty, with a high percentage of women and people of color.

Research Opportunities and Facilities: Dartmouth vs. USC

Young woman working in front of his laptop.

If you’re interested in pursuing research or scholarship as part of your college experience, you may want to know more about the research opportunities and facilities of Dartmouth College and USC. Dartmouth has a thriving research community with opportunities for independent research, collaborative projects, and interdisciplinary exploration.

Dartmouth’s research centers and institutes cover a wide range of topics, from neuroscience to energy to globalization to ethics. Dartmouth also has state-of-the-art laboratories, libraries, and equipment, as well as a dedicated office for undergraduate research.

USC also values research, innovation, and creativity and encourages students to engage in cutting-edge projects and collaborations. USC has several research centers and institutes focusing on areas such as cancer, sustainability, arts, media, and public policy. USC also has world-class labs, studios, and performance spaces, as well as a dedicated office for undergraduate research.

International Student Experience: Dartmouth vs. USC

If you’re an international student or interested in studying abroad, you may want to know more about the international student experience at Dartmouth College and USC. Dartmouth has a strong commitment to global learning and cross-cultural exchange and offers many opportunities for international education.

Dartmouth has its own study abroad programs, as well as partnerships with other institutions around the world. Dartmouth also has a dedicated office for international students, which provides support, advice, and resources for navigating the challenges of studying in a new country.

USC also values international education and intercultural awareness and has a large and diverse international student body. USC has its own study abroad programs, as well as partnerships with other institutions in more than 50 countries. USC also has a dedicated office for international students, which offers orientation, advising, and programming.

Campus Safety and Security Measures: Dartmouth vs. USC

The safety and security of a college campus can greatly affect your well-being and peace of mind. Dartmouth College and USC both have comprehensive safety and security measures in place, but they may vary in some aspects. Dartmouth has its own police department, as well as a 24-hour emergency line, a campus shuttle service, and a system of blue lights and cameras.

Dartmouth also has a strong emphasis on community policing and inclusion, with officers who are trained in de-escalation, mental health, and diversity. USC also has its own police department, which is one of the largest and most well-equipped in the country.

USC also has a system of blue lights and cameras, a mobile safety app, and a campus escort service. USC also has a commitment to community engagement, with officers who are involved in mentoring, volunteering, and outreach.

Social Scene and Nightlife: Dartmouth vs. USC

Finally, let’s talk about the social scene and nightlife of Dartmouth College and USC. While academics and extracurriculars are important, college is also a time for socializing, making friends, and having fun. Dartmouth has a unique social scene shaped by its rural location, its Greek system, and its traditions.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Dartmouth students gather in fraternities, sororities, and affinity houses and organize events such as formals, date functions, and philanthropy drives. Dartmouth also has several annual events that draw huge crowds, such as Winter Carnival, Green Key Weekend, and the First-Year Trips.

USC, being in the middle of Los Angeles, has a different social scene, characterized by its diversity, its proximity to Hollywood, and its access to cultural events and attractions.

USC students explore the city together, go to concerts, shows, and festivals, and experience the nightlife of downtown LA and neighboring neighborhoods. USC also has many on-campus events, such as concerts, movie screenings, and parties, and is known for its vibrant spirit and energy.


So, which school is right for you? The answer depends on your personal preferences, goals, and values. Dartmouth College and the University of Southern California both offer exceptional education and experiences, but they have different strengths and trade-offs.

If you’re looking for a close-knit community an emphasis on the liberal arts and a picturesque setting, Dartmouth may be the perfect fit for you. If you’re looking for a diverse, dynamic, and entrepreneurial environment, with an emphasis on professional schools and a global reputation, USC may be the perfect fit for you.

Of course, there are many other factors to consider when choosing a college, and we encourage you to do your own research, talk to current students and alumni, and visit the campuses if you can. Whatever you decide, we wish you the best of luck in your college journey!


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