Vassar vs Dartmouth: Which College is Right for You?

November 20, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Vassar vs Dartmouth: Which College is Right for You?

Making a decision about where to attend college is a momentous choice, fraught with excitement and anxiety. Whether you’re a high school senior preparing for the next step or returning to school later in life, the process of selecting a college can be overwhelming. In this article, we will explore Vassar vs Dartmouth and provide a comprehensive comparison of the two. By examining the institutions’ histories, locations, academic programs, student life, admissions, financial aid, faculty and staff, alumni networks, athletics, student organizations, diversity and inclusion, career services, research opportunities, and campus resources, we hope to help you make an informed decision about what college is right for you.

Vassar and Dartmouth: An Overview of the Colleges

Vassar College is a private, liberal arts college located in Poughkeepsie, New York. Founded in 1861, Vassar was one of the first higher education institutions in the United States to offer degrees to women. Vassar currently enrolls approximately 2,400 undergraduate students and is affiliated with the Seven Sisters, a consortium of women’s colleges in the Northeast.

Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League research university located in Hanover, New Hampshire. Founded in 1769, Dartmouth is the ninth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Dartmouth is a member of the Ivy League and enrolls approximately 6,700 undergraduate and graduate students.

Dartmouth College

Despite being located in different states, Vassar and Dartmouth share some similarities in their academic programs. Both colleges offer a wide range of majors and minors, with a strong emphasis on the liberal arts. Vassar is known for its strong programs in the humanities and social sciences, while Dartmouth is renowned for its programs in engineering, business, and the sciences.

Another notable difference between the two colleges is their campus culture. Vassar is known for its progressive and inclusive community, with a strong commitment to social justice and activism. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a more traditional campus culture, with a focus on athletics and Greek life. Despite these differences, both colleges offer a unique and enriching educational experience for their students.

Location and Campus: The Differences Between Vassar and Dartmouth

The location and campus of a college can have a significant impact on the student experience, and both Vassar and Dartmouth offer unique locations and campus cultures. Vassar is situated on a sprawling 1,000-acre campus in the Hudson Valley, surrounded by picturesque views of rolling hills and dense forests. In contrast, Dartmouth’s campus is nestled in a small town in the rural Upper Valley region of New Hampshire. Students at Dartmouth often describe the campus as being an oasis of learning in the midst of nature.

Both institutions boast impressive architecture and numerous academic and social facilities. Vassar’s campus is home to over 100 buildings, including 30 dormitories and a state-of-the-art science building. Dartmouth’s campus features the renowned Hopkins Center for the Arts, an Ivy League athletic program, and a variety of research centers and libraries.

One of the unique features of Vassar’s campus is the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, which houses over 21,000 works of art from around the world. The center also hosts a variety of exhibitions and events throughout the year, providing students with opportunities to engage with the arts. In contrast, Dartmouth’s campus is home to the Hood Museum of Art, which features over 65,000 works of art and is known for its extensive collection of Native American art.

Another notable difference between the two campuses is their proximity to major cities. Vassar is located just 75 miles north of New York City, providing students with easy access to one of the world’s cultural and financial centers. Dartmouth, on the other hand, is located in a more rural area, with the nearest major city being Boston, which is over two hours away by car. However, Dartmouth’s location in the heart of New England provides students with easy access to a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including skiing, hiking, and kayaking.

Academics: A Comparison of the Programs

Vassar and Dartmouth both offer rigorous academic programs, with a strong emphasis on the liberal arts and critical thinking. Vassar has over 50 majors and interdisciplinary programs, with notable areas of study in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Dartmouth offers over 40 majors and minors in arts and sciences, engineering, and business, with renowned programs in economics, government, and computer science. Both institutions have high levels of faculty research and student-faculty engagement.

Business Administration for students

However, there are some differences between the academic programs at Vassar and Dartmouth. Vassar has a strong focus on interdisciplinary studies, allowing students to combine different fields of study to create a unique academic experience. On the other hand, Dartmouth has a more traditional approach to academics, with a strong emphasis on individual majors and minors. Additionally, Vassar has a smaller student-to-faculty ratio, allowing for more personalized attention and mentorship opportunities. Overall, both institutions offer excellent academic programs, but with slightly different approaches to education.

Student Life: What to Expect at Vassar and Dartmouth

While both Vassar and Dartmouth have a strong academic foundation, they also prioritize a robust student life experience. Vassar has a vibrant student body, with over 200 student organizations covering a diverse range of interests. Dartmouth has a similarly active campus life, with over 300 student organizations and a strong Greek presence. Both schools have active athletic programs, with Dartmouth’s Division I program being particularly noteworthy. The student-run newspapers and radio stations at both institutions provide a platform for student voices and creativity.

Additionally, both Vassar and Dartmouth offer a variety of opportunities for students to engage in community service and social justice initiatives. Vassar’s Office of Community-Engaged Learning connects students with local organizations and projects, while Dartmouth’s Tucker Center for Social Responsibility offers programs and resources for students interested in making a positive impact on society. These opportunities allow students to apply their academic knowledge to real-world issues and make a difference in their communities.

Admissions: The Application Process

The admissions process for Vassar and Dartmouth is competitive, with both schools receiving thousands of applications each year. Vassar’s admissions process is holistic, taking into account a range of factors including academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, essays, and teacher recommendations. Dartmouth’s admissions process similarly considers a variety of factors, including demonstrated interest, letters of recommendation, and an interview with a Dartmouth alumni. Both institutions are committed to increasing diversity and equity in their student body and offer need-blind admissions policies.

a parent helping his son about his letters of recommendation

It is important to note that while the admissions process for Vassar and Dartmouth is competitive, both schools offer resources to help students navigate the application process. Vassar offers virtual information sessions, campus tours, and one-on-one meetings with admissions counselors. Dartmouth similarly offers virtual information sessions, as well as opportunities to connect with current students and alumni. Both schools also have dedicated financial aid offices to assist students with the financial aid application process.

Financial Aid: How to Pay for Your Education

Attending a private college can be expensive, but Vassar and Dartmouth both offer robust financial aid programs to help make education accessible. Vassar meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, with the average financial aid package covering over 90% of the total cost of attendance. Similarly, Dartmouth meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, with the average financial aid package covering 90% of the total cost of attendance. Both schools offer grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans to help students finance their education.

In addition to financial aid, Vassar and Dartmouth also offer various resources to help students manage their finances. Vassar has a dedicated Office of Financial Aid that provides counseling and guidance to students and families on how to finance their education. Dartmouth has a Financial Aid Office that offers workshops and seminars on financial literacy, budgeting, and debt management. Both schools also have online resources and tools to help students understand their financial aid packages and make informed decisions about their finances.

Furthermore, Vassar and Dartmouth have partnerships with external organizations that offer additional financial support to students. For example, Vassar has partnerships with organizations such as QuestBridge and the Posse Foundation, which provide full-tuition scholarships to high-achieving, low-income students. Dartmouth has partnerships with organizations such as the Gates Millennium Scholars Program and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which offer scholarships and support to high-achieving, low-income students as well.

Faculty and Staff: Vassar vs. Dartmouth

The quality and dedication of faculty and staff can have a significant impact on the academic and personal growth of students. Vassar and Dartmouth both employ renowned scholars and educators, with a commitment to student-faculty engagement and mentorship. Vassar has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1, with approximately 60% of all classes having fewer than 20 students. Dartmouth has a similarly low student-faculty ratio of 7:1, with a focus on interdisciplinary teaching and research collaboration. Both institutions offer a range of resources to support faculty development and research.

a teacher demonstrating in front of his students

Additionally, both Vassar and Dartmouth have diverse faculty and staff, with individuals from various backgrounds and experiences. This diversity allows for a more inclusive and well-rounded education for students, as they are exposed to different perspectives and ideas. Furthermore, both colleges prioritize the well-being and support of their faculty and staff, offering benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, and professional development opportunities. This commitment to their employees translates to a positive and supportive work environment, which ultimately benefits the students and the overall success of the institution.

Alumni Networks: Vassar vs. Dartmouth

Graduating from Vassar or Dartmouth can provide a significant advantage in a variety of fields, with alumni networks spanning the globe. Vassar alumni include notable figures in politics, journalism, science, and the arts. Likewise, Dartmouth alumni have found success in business, law, medicine, and public service. Both institutions foster a strong sense of community among alumni, with extensive networking opportunities and career services available to support graduates throughout their professional lives.

One of the key benefits of being part of an alumni network is the ability to connect with fellow graduates who share similar experiences and interests. Vassar and Dartmouth alumni often form close-knit communities, with regular events and gatherings held both on and off campus. These events provide opportunities for alumni to network, share ideas, and collaborate on projects, as well as to simply catch up with old friends.

In addition to social and professional networking opportunities, alumni of Vassar and Dartmouth also have access to a range of career services and resources. These may include job boards, resume reviews, interview preparation, and mentorship programs. Many alumni networks also offer ongoing education and training opportunities, such as workshops, webinars, and conferences, to help graduates stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in their fields.

Athletics: Vassar vs. Dartmouth

Vassar and Dartmouth both have competitive athletic programs, with a wide range of sports offered at both schools. Vassar is a Division III member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), with the Brewers fielding teams in over 20 sports and a particular strength in swimming and diving. Dartmouth is a Division I member of the NCAA and a member of the Ivy League Conference, with Big Green teams competing in over 30 sports and a particular strength in skiing and ice hockey. Both institutions emphasize a balance between academic and athletic excellence, with opportunities for students to participate in community service and leadership development through athletics.

a female swimmer

Despite their differences in division and sports strengths, both Vassar and Dartmouth prioritize the well-being and safety of their student-athletes. Both schools have implemented measures to ensure that their athletes are receiving proper medical care and support, including concussion protocols and mental health resources. Additionally, both institutions have made efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within their athletic programs, with initiatives such as LGBTQ+ athlete ally training and cultural competency workshops for coaches and staff. Overall, Vassar and Dartmouth offer robust and well-rounded athletic programs that prioritize the holistic development of their student-athletes.

Student Organizations: Vassar vs. Dartmouth

Vassar and Dartmouth both have a diverse range of student organizations and clubs, providing opportunities for students to pursue their interests and engage with the campus community. Vassar has over 200 student organizations covering a wide range of topics, from political activism to community service to creative arts. Dartmouth has over 300 student organizations, including Greek life, special interest groups, and academic-focused clubs. Both schools prioritize student involvement and leadership, with opportunities to start new organizations and initiatives.

Additionally, both Vassar and Dartmouth offer opportunities for students to participate in intercollegiate competitions and events through their respective athletic programs. Vassar is a member of the Liberty League, competing in NCAA Division III sports such as basketball, soccer, and swimming. Dartmouth is a member of the Ivy League, with a strong tradition of excellence in sports such as football, hockey, and track and field. These athletic programs provide students with a chance to represent their school and compete at a high level, while also fostering a sense of community and school spirit.

Diversity and Inclusion: Vassar vs. Dartmouth

Creating a welcoming and inclusive campus environment is important to both Vassar and Dartmouth. Vassar has a commitment to diversity that dates back to its founding, with a history of pioneering educational opportunities for women and a strong emphasis on equity and inclusion. Dartmouth has a similar commitment to diversity, with a range of initiatives focused on creating an inclusive campus environment. Both institutions have robust support systems to help students from underrepresented backgrounds thrive, including mentorship programs and campus affinity groups.

However, despite their efforts, both Vassar and Dartmouth still face challenges in achieving true diversity and inclusion on their campuses. One issue is the lack of representation among faculty and staff, particularly in leadership positions. Another challenge is the need to address microaggressions and implicit biases that can create a hostile environment for marginalized students. Both institutions are actively working to address these issues and create a more equitable and inclusive campus community.

Career Services: Vassar vs. Dartmouth

Preparing for life after college is a critical part of the undergraduate experience, and Vassar and Dartmouth both offer resources to help students transition into their careers. Vassar has a Center for Career Development, providing students with career counseling, job and internship resources, and networking opportunities. Dartmouth has a similar Center for Professional Development, offering a range of resources including career advising, employer connections, and alumni mentorship. Both institutions have strong reputations for producing successful graduates who go on to pursue a wide range of careers.

At Vassar, the Center for Career Development also offers workshops and events to help students build their skills and explore different career paths. These events include resume and cover letter writing workshops, mock interviews, and career fairs. Additionally, Vassar has a strong alumni network that students can tap into for advice and mentorship.

Dartmouth’s Center for Professional Development also provides resources for students interested in pursuing graduate school, including assistance with application materials and information on different programs. The center also offers funding opportunities for students to pursue internships and research projects related to their career goals.

Research Opportunities: Vassar vs. Dartmouth

Research is an important part of the undergraduate experience at Vassar and Dartmouth, with faculty and students conducting innovative and impactful scholarships across a wide range of fields. Vassar has a robust research program, with opportunities for students to engage in research across all academic departments, including the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Dartmouth has a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary research, with centers focused on topics ranging from energy to neuroscience to global health. Both institutions have extensive resources to support research, including funding opportunities, mentorship programs, and state-of-the-art facilities.

At Vassar, students have the opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI), which provides funding for students to conduct research with a faculty mentor over the summer. Additionally, Vassar has a strong tradition of collaborative research, with students often working in teams on projects that span multiple disciplines. At Dartmouth, students can take advantage of the Thayer School of Engineering’s Engineering Design Methodology course, which allows students to work on real-world engineering projects in teams. Dartmouth also offers a variety of research internships and fellowships, including the Neukom Institute for Computational Science’s undergraduate research program, which supports students conducting research in computational science and digital humanities.

Campus Resources: Vassar vs. Dartmouth

Finally, Vassar and Dartmouth both offer a range of resources and facilities to support the health, wellness, and intellectual growth of their students. Vassar’s libraries, including the Thompson Memorial Library and the Science Library, house extensive collections and offer research support services. Dartmouth’s libraries, including the Baker-Berry Library and the Rauner Special Collections Library, provide access to millions of volumes and archives, as well as research and reference services. Both institutions have robust health and wellness centers, offering medical care, counseling, and mental health resources to students. Additionally, Vassar and Dartmouth both have extensive campus facilities to support extracurricular activities, including art studios, performance spaces, and outdoor recreation areas.

A man looking at a work of art in a exhibit

Moreover, Vassar and Dartmouth offer various academic resources to their students. Vassar has a Writing Center that provides one-on-one consultations to help students improve their writing skills. Dartmouth has a Tutor Clearinghouse that connects students with peer tutors for academic support. Both institutions also have career centers that offer career counseling, job and internship search assistance, and networking opportunities. These resources help students to succeed academically and professionally, and to make the most of their college experience.


Choosing a college is a complex decision, with implications that can last a lifetime. Vassar College and Dartmouth College are both excellent institutions of higher learning, with strong academic programs, robust campus life, and a commitment to student success. By comparing the history, location, academic programs, student life, admissions, financial aid, faculty and staff, alumni networks, athletics, student organizations, diversity and inclusion, career services, research opportunities, and campus resources of both institutions, we hope to provide the information necessary for you to make an informed decision about which school is right for you.


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