Wellesley vs Dartmouth: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young woman standing next to a wall.

Wellesley vs Dartmouth: Which College is Right for You?

Choosing the right college can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many options available. Two highly ranked colleges that often come up as choices for prospective students are Wellesley and Dartmouth. Both colleges are renowned for their academic rigor, extracurricular activities, and strong alumni networks, but each has its unique set of pros and cons. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the different aspects of Wellesley vs Dartmouth to help you decide which one may be a better fit for you.

Location and Campus Comparison: Wellesley vs. Dartmouth

The location of a college can play a crucial role in determining your experience as a student. Wellesley College is located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, a suburban town about 12 miles west of Boston. The campus is situated on 500 acres of rolling hills, woods, and meadows, giving students a peaceful and serene atmosphere to study and explore. Dartmouth College, on the other hand, is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a town of about 11,000 people. The location provides a quintessential New England experience, with stunning views of the White Mountains and Connecticut River. The campus is slightly smaller than Wellesley, at 269 acres, but is still abundant in green spaces and outdoor activities.

Wellesley’s proximity to Boston and all the cultural and historical opportunities the city has to offer may be a draw for some students. However, Hanover’s location in the Upper Valley offers plenty of outdoor recreational activities, including skiing, hiking, and kayaking.

Another factor to consider when comparing the locations of Wellesley and Dartmouth is the accessibility of transportation. Wellesley is located near major highways and has a commuter rail station, making it easy for students to travel to Boston or other nearby cities. Dartmouth, on the other hand, is more isolated and may require a longer drive or bus ride to reach larger cities or airports.

Additionally, the climate of each location should also be taken into account. Wellesley experiences four distinct seasons, with cold winters and hot summers. Dartmouth, being further north, has even colder winters and milder summers. Students who enjoy outdoor activities in the snow may prefer Dartmouth’s location, while those who prefer milder temperatures may prefer Wellesley’s climate.

Academic Programs and Majors: Wellesley vs. Dartmouth

Both Wellesley and Dartmouth offer a wide range of academic programs and majors. Wellesley College is an all-women’s college, and the majority of its programs revolve around the humanities and social sciences, with majors like English, Political Science, and Psychology. Dartmouth, on the other hand, offers undergraduate and graduate programs across its four schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the Geisel School of Medicine, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business. Dartmouth’s strengths lie in its graduate programs, especially in business and medicine.

A person dripping a liquid on test tubes

Prospective students should consider their interests and career aspirations before deciding which college to attend. Both colleges offer excellent academic reputations, with professors who are experts in their fields and who prioritize undergraduate education. Wellesley’s all-women environment may be a draw for some students, while others may prefer the coeducational environment of Dartmouth.

Another factor to consider when comparing Wellesley and Dartmouth is the size of the student body. Wellesley has a smaller student body, with around 2,500 undergraduate students, while Dartmouth has around 4,500 undergraduate students. This may impact the type of community and social atmosphere that students experience on campus.

In terms of extracurricular activities, both colleges offer a variety of options for students to get involved in. Wellesley has a strong focus on the arts, with opportunities to participate in theater productions, music ensembles, and visual arts programs. Dartmouth has a strong athletic culture, with a variety of varsity and club sports teams, as well as outdoor recreation programs like hiking and skiing.

Cost of Attendance: Wellesley vs. Dartmouth

The cost of attending college is a significant consideration for most students and families. Wellesley College’s tuition and fees for the academic year are $61,920, and students can expect additional expenses, such as room and board, textbooks, and personal expenses, which can bring the total cost of attendance close to $81,000 per year. Dartmouth College’s tuition and fees for the same academic year are $62,430, with a total cost of attendance of around $80,000 per year. Both colleges offer financial aid to eligible students, and it’s essential to consider your financial standing before deciding which college to attend.

It’s worth noting that the cost of attendance can vary depending on the student’s major and course load. For example, some majors may require more expensive textbooks or equipment, while taking a heavier course load may result in higher fees. Additionally, students may be able to save money by living off-campus or finding alternative housing options.

Another factor to consider is the potential return on investment. While attending a more affordable college may seem like the best financial decision in the short term, it’s important to consider the long-term benefits of attending a more prestigious or well-known institution. Graduates from these colleges may have access to better job opportunities and higher salaries, which could ultimately outweigh the initial cost of attendance.

Extracurricular Activities and Student Life: Wellesley vs. Dartmouth

Extracurricular activities can be just as important as academics when it comes to the college experience. Both Wellesley and Dartmouth offer a wide range of clubs and organizations, from sports teams to performing arts groups. Wellesley’s campus culture places a strong emphasis on community, and there are various opportunities to get involved in social justice initiatives and activism. Dartmouth’s campuses offer an active Greek life and a vibrant social scene, with plenty of opportunities for networking and making connections with alumni.

Both colleges offer unique experiences, and students should consider their individual preferences and interests before deciding which college would be a better fit.

One of the unique aspects of Wellesley’s extracurricular activities is the emphasis on women’s leadership. The college offers various leadership programs and opportunities for women to develop their skills and become leaders in their fields. Additionally, Wellesley has a strong focus on the arts, with a renowned arts program and numerous opportunities for students to get involved in theater, music, and visual arts.

Actors and actresses rehearsing with theater director on the stage.

Dartmouth, on the other hand, is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities. The college is located in the beautiful Upper Valley region of New Hampshire, and students can take advantage of the nearby mountains, rivers, and forests for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. Dartmouth also has a strong commitment to entrepreneurship, with various programs and resources available for students interested in starting their own businesses.

Admissions Process: Wellesley vs. Dartmouth

Both Wellesley and Dartmouth have highly selective admissions processes, with acceptance rates of 16% and 6%. Prospective students should focus on building a strong academic record, taking challenging courses, and participating in extracurricular activities. Standardized test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation are also essential parts of the application process.

Applicants to Wellesley should also consider whether they are interested in pursuing a single-sex education, as this can be a significant factor in the admissions decision. Dartmouth’s admissions process considers both undergraduate and graduate programs, so students should tailor their application materials accordingly.

Another important factor to consider when applying to Wellesley is the school’s commitment to women’s leadership and empowerment. Admissions officers look for applicants who demonstrate a passion for advancing women’s rights and equality, and who have a track record of leadership and community involvement.

On the other hand, Dartmouth values a well-rounded student body and seeks applicants who have a diverse range of interests and experiences. Students who have excelled in athletics, music, or other extracurricular pursuits may have an advantage in the admissions process.

Faculty and Student Ratio: Wellesley vs. Dartmouth

Both Wellesley and Dartmouth pride themselves on their low faculty-to-student ratios. Wellesley has a ratio of 8:1, while Dartmouth’s ratio is slightly higher at 7:1. This means that students have ample opportunities to engage with professors and form meaningful relationships. Faculty members at both colleges are renowned for their academic excellence and dedication to teaching undergraduates.

However, there are some differences in the way that the two colleges approach their faculty and student ratios. At Wellesley, the low ratio is achieved by limiting the number of students admitted each year. This allows for a more intimate learning environment but also means that the college is highly selective. In contrast, Dartmouth has a larger student body and achieves its low ratio by hiring more faculty members. This can lead to a wider range of course offerings and research opportunities for students.

Another factor to consider is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on faculty and student ratios. Both colleges have had to adjust their teaching methods and class sizes in response to the pandemic. Wellesley has implemented a hybrid model of in-person and online learning, which has allowed for smaller class sizes and more individualized attention from professors. Dartmouth has also implemented a hybrid model but has had to increase its faculty-to-student ratio slightly in order to accommodate the changes.

Campus Diversity: Which College Offers a More Diverse Environment?

Creating a diverse and inclusive campus community is a significant priority for both Wellesley and Dartmouth. Both colleges have a diverse student body, with students from all over the country and the world. However, Wellesley’s campus culture is more homogenous due to its all-women environment, while Dartmouth is known for its diversity and inclusivity initiatives, including a Native American Program and an LGBTQ center. Students should consider which campus community would be a better fit for them.

In addition to the programs mentioned, Dartmouth also has a strong commitment to socioeconomic diversity. The college offers need-blind admissions and meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. This ensures that students from all economic backgrounds have access to a Dartmouth education.

On the other hand, Wellesley has a unique focus on women’s leadership and empowerment. The college offers numerous opportunities for women to develop their leadership skills, including a Women in Public Service Program and a Center for Work and Service. This focus on women’s leadership can be a major draw for students who are passionate about gender equality and women’s rights.

Alumni Network and Career Opportunities: Which College Offers Better Job Prospects?

Networking and career opportunities are significant factors in determining the value of a college education. Both Wellesley and Dartmouth offer strong alumni networks, with graduates who are leaders in their fields and who have achieved success in a variety of industries. However, Dartmouth’s extensive graduate programs, including the Tuck School of Business and Geisel School of Medicine, can give students an advantage when it comes to securing jobs after graduation. Wellesley’s strong emphasis on the humanities and social sciences can also prepare students for a wide range of careers, from education to law to public service.

It is important to note that while Dartmouth may have an advantage in certain fields, Wellesley’s smaller class sizes and personalized attention from professors can also lead to valuable connections and opportunities. Additionally, Wellesley’s location near Boston provides access to a thriving job market and numerous internship opportunities. Ultimately, the best college for job prospects depends on the individual student’s interests, goals, and career aspirations.

Student Housing Options: A Comparison of Wellesley and Dartmouth Dormitories

Both Wellesley and Dartmouth offer a variety of student housing options, from traditional dormitories to apartment-style living. Wellesley guarantees campus housing for all four years, with options ranging from singles to suites to townhouses. Dartmouth also guarantees housing for four years, with a variety of options depending on student preferences and class year. Both colleges prioritize student safety and well-being in their housing policies.

View of students lounging in the common room.

However, there are some differences between the two colleges’ housing options. Wellesley’s dormitories are all located on campus, while Dartmouth’s housing options are spread out across campus and the surrounding area. Additionally, Wellesley’s housing is generally more expensive than Dartmouth’s, with some of the townhouse options costing upwards of $10,000 per year. Despite these differences, both colleges strive to provide comfortable and safe living environments for their students.

Athletics and Sports Programs Comparison between Wellesley and Dartmouth

Athletics and sports programs can be an essential part of the college experience for many students. Wellesley offers a Division III athletics program, with teams in sports like basketball, field hockey, and cross country. Dartmouth also offers a Division I athletics program, with teams in sports like football, hockey, and lacrosse. Both colleges prioritize the student-athlete experience, with ample resources for training and support.

However, there are some differences between the athletics and sports programs at Wellesley and Dartmouth. While Wellesley’s Division III program may not have the same level of competition as Dartmouth’s Division I program, it does offer a more inclusive environment for student-athletes of all skill levels. Additionally, Wellesley’s athletics program places a strong emphasis on the development of leadership skills and community service, providing opportunities for student-athletes to make a positive impact both on and off the field.

Student Support Services: Which College Offers Better Academic Support for Students?

Academic support services can be instrumental in helping students achieve their academic goals. Both Wellesley and Dartmouth offer comprehensive student support services, including tutoring, writing centers, and academic workshops. Wellesley’s Center for Work and Service helps students find internships and career opportunities, while Dartmouth’s Academic Skills Center offers workshops on time management, organization, and study skills.

However, there are some differences between the two colleges when it comes to student support services. Wellesley offers a peer tutoring program, where students can receive one-on-one tutoring from fellow students who have excelled in the same course. On the other hand, Dartmouth offers a writing assistance program, where students can receive feedback on their writing from trained writing consultants. Additionally, Wellesley has a dedicated disability services office, which provides accommodations and support for students with disabilities, while Dartmouth’s Student Accessibility Services works with students to provide accommodations and support for a range of disabilities.

Campus Safety Comparison between Wellesley and Dartmouth

Campus safety is a top priority for both Wellesley and Dartmouth. Both colleges have dedicated campus safety departments, 24/7 emergency services, and various resources for addressing issues of sexual assault and harassment. Wellesley’s campus culture places a strong emphasis on the safety and well-being of its students, with the creation of a Campus Safety Task Force in 2019. Dartmouth’s campus has also taken steps to improve campus safety, including a partnership with local law enforcement agencies.

However, there are some differences in the approach to campus safety between Wellesley and Dartmouth. Wellesley has implemented a mandatory bystander intervention training program for all students, which aims to equip them with the skills to recognize and intervene in situations of potential harm. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a system of “house communities” where students live in small groups and are responsible for each other’s safety and well-being. While both approaches have their merits, it is important for prospective students to consider which approach aligns better with their personal values and priorities.

Faculty Reputation Comparison: Wellesley vs Dartmouth

Faculty reputation is a significant factor in determining the academic quality of a college. Both Wellesley and Dartmouth have world-renowned faculty members who are leaders in their fields. Faculty members at Wellesley are dedicated to undergraduate teaching and often have close relationships with students. Dartmouth’s faculty members are also dedicated to undergraduate education, but the college’s extensive graduate programs can mean that some faculty members may have less direct involvement with undergraduate students.

A professor giving instructions to a student.

Another important aspect to consider when comparing the faculty reputation of Wellesley and Dartmouth is the diversity of the faculty. Wellesley has made a concerted effort to increase the diversity of its faculty in recent years, with a focus on hiring more women and people of color. This has resulted in a faculty that is more representative of the student body and provides a wider range of perspectives in the classroom. Dartmouth has also made efforts to increase diversity among its faculty, but the college still has a long way to go in terms of achieving a truly diverse faculty.

Finally, it’s worth noting that both Wellesley and Dartmouth have strong research programs, and many faculty members are actively engaged in cutting-edge research in their fields. However, the emphasis on research can sometimes come at the expense of teaching, particularly at research-intensive universities like Dartmouth. At Wellesley, the focus on undergraduate teaching means that faculty members are often more accessible to students and more invested in their success. This can be a significant advantage for students who are looking for a more personalized and supportive academic experience.

Research Opportunities: Wellesley vs. Dartmouth

Undergraduate research can be a valuable opportunity for students to engage with academic research and gain hands-on experience in their chosen fields. Both Wellesley and Dartmouth offer undergraduate research opportunities, with ample funding and resources available. Wellesley’s focus on the humanities and social sciences means that research opportunities may differ from those at Dartmouth, which prioritizes research in science and medicine.

two neuroscientists analyzing a brain scan projected through the computer screen

However, both colleges offer unique research opportunities that cater to the interests of their students. Wellesley’s interdisciplinary approach to research allows students to explore a wide range of topics, from gender studies to environmental policy. Dartmouth’s strong emphasis on research in science and medicine provides students with opportunities to work alongside renowned faculty members and conduct cutting-edge research in fields such as neuroscience and biotechnology.


In conclusion, choosing between Wellesley and Dartmouth can be a difficult decision, as both colleges offer excellent academic programs, robust extracurricular activities, and a strong community of students and alumni. Prospective students should consider a wide range of factors, from location to academic interests to campus culture, when making their decision. Ultimately, the best way to determine if a college is the right fit is to visit the campus, meet with professors and current students, and get a sense of the college’s unique character.

One factor that may be particularly important to consider is the size of the college. Wellesley is a small liberal arts college with a student body of around 2,500, while Dartmouth is a larger university with a student body of around 4,500. This difference in size can impact the sense of community and the opportunities available to students.

Another factor to consider is the availability of resources and support for students. Both colleges offer a range of academic and personal support services, but the specific resources available may differ. For example, Wellesley has a strong focus on women’s leadership and offers programs and resources specifically tailored to support women in their academic and professional pursuits, while Dartmouth has a strong focus on undergraduate research and offers extensive opportunities for students to engage in research projects with faculty members.


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