Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university located in rural Hanover, New Hampshire, has a reputation among some as a top ‘party school’. If you’re wondering whether Dartmouth deserves this reputation, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While Dartmouth students do party, the school offers a rigorous academic environment and a variety of extracurricular activities beyond the Greek system and social scene. Dartmouth is more multifaceted than its party school stereotype suggests.

Dartmouth’s Reputation as a Party School

Dartmouth College, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, has long held a reputation as a party school. This reputation has been a topic of discussion and debate among students, alumni, and the media for many years.

The college is known for its vibrant social scene, with a variety of events and parties happening throughout the year. However, it’s important to examine the origins of Dartmouth’s party image and how it has been portrayed in the media over time.

Origins of Dartmouth’s party image

The origins of Dartmouth’s party image can be traced back to the college’s long-standing tradition of fraternities. Fraternities have played a significant role in shaping the social life at Dartmouth, with many students choosing to join these organizations and participate in their events.

This strong fraternity culture has contributed to Dartmouth’s reputation as a party school, as these organizations often host parties and social gatherings for their members and guests.

It’s important to note that while Dartmouth has a reputation as a party school, it also offers a rigorous academic program and a wide range of extracurricular activities. The college is known for its strong liberal arts education and has produced many successful graduates in various fields.

Media portrayals through the years

The media has played a significant role in perpetuating Dartmouth’s party school image. Over the years, various publications and news outlets have covered the college’s social scene, often emphasizing the party culture and neglecting other aspects of campus life.

These portrayals have contributed to the popular perception of Dartmouth as a party school.

It’s worth mentioning that media portrayals can sometimes be sensationalized and may not fully reflect the reality of campus life. While Dartmouth does have a lively social scene, it also fosters a strong sense of community, academic excellence, and personal growth among its students.

Princeton Review rankings

The Princeton Review, a college admissions services company, has included Dartmouth in its annual rankings of party schools. These rankings are based on surveys of students’ opinions and perceptions of their own schools.

While the rankings are subjective and should be taken with a grain of salt, they have contributed to Dartmouth’s reputation as a party school.

It’s important to remember that rankings like these should not be the sole factor in determining a college’s suitability for an individual. Each student has unique needs and preferences when it comes to their college experience, and it’s essential to consider a variety of factors, such as academics, campus culture, and extracurricular opportunities.

Greek Life and the Social Scene at Dartmouth

When it comes to the social scene at Dartmouth College, Greek life plays a significant role. Greek organizations, including fraternities and sororities, are an integral part of the campus culture and provide students with a wide range of social opportunities.

Prominence of Greek life on campus

Greek life has a long-standing tradition at Dartmouth, dating back to the college’s founding in 1769. Today, approximately 60% of Dartmouth students are affiliated with a Greek organization, making it one of the most prominent aspects of campus life.

Joining a fraternity or sorority at Dartmouth offers students a chance to form close-knit communities, engage in philanthropy work, and participate in a variety of social events. These organizations often serve as a support system for students throughout their college years and beyond.

Notable fraternities and sororities

Dartmouth is home to a diverse range of fraternities and sororities, each with its own unique history and traditions. Some of the most well-known Greek organizations include Alpha Delta Phi, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Zeta Psi.

These fraternities and sororities offer their members opportunities for leadership development, academic support, and social engagement. Many of them also have a strong alumni network, which can be beneficial for career networking and mentorship.

Legendary parties and events

Dartmouth is known for its legendary parties and events hosted by Greek organizations. These gatherings often attract students from all over campus and have become an integral part of the college experience.

One of the most famous parties at Dartmouth is the Winter Carnival, an annual event organized by the fraternities and sororities. It features live music, themed costumes, and a festive atmosphere that brings the entire campus together.

Additionally, Greek organizations host regular social events, such as mixers, formals, and philanthropy events, providing students with a vibrant and active social scene throughout the year.

It’s important to note that while Greek life is a significant aspect of the social scene at Dartmouth, it is not the only option for students to socialize and find their niche on campus. Dartmouth offers a wide range of clubs, organizations, and activities for students to explore and engage with different communities.

For more information on Dartmouth’s Greek life and social scene, you can visit the official Dartmouth College website here.

Dartmouth’s Rigorous Academics

While Dartmouth College may have a reputation for being a lively and social campus, it is important to recognize that its academic programs are highly esteemed. Dartmouth is one of the eight Ivy League schools, known for their rigorous and demanding curricula.

Ivy League curriculum

As an Ivy League institution, Dartmouth College upholds a tradition of academic excellence. Students at Dartmouth are challenged by a wide range of courses across various disciplines. The college offers a diverse array of majors and minors, allowing students to explore their passions and interests.

The Ivy League curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, and intellectual growth.

Top programs and departments

Dartmouth is renowned for its exceptional programs and departments. The college has consistently ranked among the top institutions in the nation for a variety of fields, including economics, government, engineering, and medicine.

Dartmouth’s commitment to excellence is reflected in its world-class faculty and state-of-the-art facilities. Students have the opportunity to learn from leading experts in their respective fields.

Prominent alumni

Dartmouth College boasts an impressive list of alumni who have achieved great success in their careers. Graduates of Dartmouth have gone on to become influential figures in various industries, including business, politics, entertainment, and academia.

Notable alumni include former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louise Erdrich, and renowned filmmaker Ken Burns. These successful individuals are a testament to the quality of education and preparation provided by Dartmouth.

So, while Dartmouth may have a reputation for its vibrant social scene, it is important to remember that the college’s rigorous academics are an integral part of its identity. The combination of a challenging curriculum, top programs and departments, and successful alumni make Dartmouth College an excellent choice for those seeking a well-rounded education.

Life Outside the Party Scene

While Dartmouth College may have a reputation for its vibrant party scene, there is much more to campus life than just late-night festivities. The college offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities that cater to a diverse range of interests and passions.

Variety of extracurricular activities

From clubs and organizations focused on community service, arts and culture, entrepreneurship, and academic pursuits, Dartmouth provides students with ample opportunities to get involved and pursue their passions outside of the party scene.

Whether it’s joining a debate club, participating in a theater production, or engaging in community service projects, students can find a sense of community and purpose beyond the party culture.

One notable example is the Dartmouth Outing Club, which is the oldest and largest collegiate outing club in the United States. The club offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, rock climbing, and kayaking.

It provides students with a chance to explore the beautiful natural surroundings of rural New Hampshire and offers a refreshing alternative to the party scene.

Strong athletic culture

Dartmouth College takes pride in its strong athletic culture. The college competes in Division I sports and offers a wide range of intercollegiate and club sports for both men and women. From football and basketball to rowing and lacrosse, there is a sport for every student to participate in or cheer for.

Student athletes at Dartmouth have the opportunity to compete at a high level while also receiving a top-notch education. The college’s commitment to both academics and athletics creates an environment where students can excel both on the field and in the classroom.

Outdoor recreation in rural New Hampshire

Dartmouth College’s location in rural New Hampshire provides students with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. The campus is surrounded by picturesque mountains, forests, and rivers, making it an ideal location for hiking, camping, and exploring nature.

Students can take advantage of the nearby Appalachian Trail, which passes through Hanover, the town where Dartmouth is located. This iconic trail offers breathtaking views and challenging hikes for outdoor enthusiasts.

Additionally, the nearby Connecticut River provides opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

Administration Efforts to Change Culture

The administration of Dartmouth College has been taking proactive steps to change the culture of the institution and address concerns about the party school reputation. Recognizing the need for a safer and more inclusive environment, the administration has implemented various initiatives and policies aimed at promoting responsible social behavior and reducing the prominence of partying on campus.

Cracking down on Greek life

One of the main focuses of the administration’s efforts has been cracking down on the influence of Greek life organizations on campus. Dartmouth College has a long history of Greek life, with fraternities and sororities playing a significant role in the social scene.

However, the administration has recognized that some of these organizations have contributed to the party school reputation and fostered an exclusionary culture.

In recent years, Dartmouth College has implemented stricter regulations and oversight for Greek life. The administration has worked closely with the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council to establish new guidelines and expectations for these organizations.

These include mandatory alcohol education programs, increased supervision at parties, and stricter disciplinary measures for violations. By holding Greek life accountable for their actions, the administration hopes to promote a healthier and more inclusive social environment on campus.

Promoting alternative social options

In addition to cracking down on Greek life, Dartmouth College has also been actively promoting alternative social options for students. The administration recognizes that the party scene may not be appealing to everyone, and they are committed to providing a variety of options for students to socialize and have fun.

One initiative that has been successful in promoting alternative social options is the creation of community centers and spaces on campus. These centers provide students with a place to gather, socialize, and engage in activities that do not revolve around partying.

They offer a wide range of programming, including movie nights, game tournaments, and cultural events, catering to diverse interests and preferences.

The administration has also encouraged student organizations to organize non-alcoholic events and activities. This includes supporting clubs and groups that focus on hobbies, sports, arts, and community service.

By actively promoting these alternative options, the administration hopes to shift the focus away from excessive partying and create a more balanced and inclusive social scene at Dartmouth College.


In conclusion, while Dartmouth certainly has a robust party and Greek scene, the stereotype of it solely being a party school is reductive. Greek life is a significant component of campus culture, but Dartmouth also provides an Ivy League education and a wealth of non-Greek extracurricular activities for students.

The party reputation stems from true traditions, but also media caricatures that amplify just one aspect of the Dartmouth experience.

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