UChicago vs . Dartmouth

g2g2mariners's picture
Rank: Chimp | 1

Sorry, this is another one of those annoying college choice questions. If you don't want to read the whole thing, skip to the bottom (TLDR).

I am super lucky to have been accepted to both the University of Chicago and Dartmouth College. I know it is early, but I am interested in management consulting as a possible career. I know both these schools are night and day when it comes to culture and social life, and I will be staying overnight at both and doing a lot more research of other factors before choosing. The most glaring difference is the social life in my opinion (UC being quirky and rather antisocial, Dartmouth for being the fratty, partying Ivy); I am a less social guy in an incredibly social group, and I embrace both my nerdiness and extroversion, so I think I can fit in at both schools (again, I haven't stayed overnight at either yet, and can only speculate right now). PS, I can handle the cold at both schools.

The University of Chicago has shot up in the rankings (I honestly didn't expect to get in) recently, and it is (in)famous for its academic rigor. As someone who is looking for a stimulating intellectual environment, UC definitely passes with flying colors. I am also going to study economics at both schools, and given all the Nobel winning faculty and renowned lecturers at UC, there seems to be no better place in terms of pure academic quality. Another huge pro about UC is that it has changed its administration and seems to be erasing its stigma of being the place "where fun goes to die." Also, I appreciate the large amounts of diversity, and I also know that there will be relatively less IB/consulting competition at UC, since so many students are interested in getting PHDs. Also, I like Chicago as a city.
However, I do have a friend at Chicago who is only a first-year, and is starting to regret choosing the school. Although it isn't as notoriously difficult as in the past few decades, I know that UC definitely doesn't have much grade inflation like most Ivies. I want to be challenged, but also want to have fun in college and not be pushed to the brink of depression from all the stress. Plus, I am rather interested in Greek life, and I know the Greek scene at UC is lacking.
Yet despite these cons, I have an admittedly prestige-whore concern. My parents told me how Stanford had less prestige in the past when they were younger, and then gradually became the school it is today. Is UChicago going to be the next Stanford, given that UC has been doing so well admissions-wise in recent years? When I tell people today that I got into UChicago, they think it is a state-school; will that change in the next few years, by the time I graduate?

Dartmouth College was the first school that I fell in love with. I love its isolation, its Greek life (although there has been administrative policy in recent years that have restricted Greek life), its work-hard-play-hard mentality, its collaborative and undergrad-focused atmosphere. I know that I will be most likely working in the city as an adult, and I have grown up (and probably will live in the future) in the suburbs. Spending my college years in rural Hanover, New Hampshire sounds very attractive to me. Its economics program, although maybe not as prestigious as UC, is absolutely no slouch. Its tight alumni network is a huge selling point to me as well. I'm not scared off by the preppy culture; I'm a bit preppy myself. If I were to choose without thinking about job opportunities, I'd give the slight edge to Dartmouth right now, but am definitely considering both.

However, I worry that while UC is moving in an upward trend, Dartmouth is on the decline. I have heard on WSO that while 10-20 years ago Dart's Wall Street presence was only challenged by HYPSM, today it is seen as "just another lower Ivy" (which is still awesome, don't get me wrong). I also heard that Dartmouth is attracting less applicants in the past few years, and that it isn't considered a tier 1 research school by some major rating agency (sorry for the lack of source). This might hurt Dartmouth's ranking and perception, which has been hampered by recent news regarding Greek life. Also, as a minority, I worry about discrimination in frats.

TLDR: I love both schools for different reasons, and am a good mix of nerdy and extrovert to fit in at both schools. I am attracted to Chicago because of its unmatched econ department, its commitment to academic rigor, its diversity, and its potential for even further improvement in the coming years. I am turned off by Chicago's strict grading, by the negative reviews I've heard from a friend who is attending, and by the complete lack of Greek life/sports. My biggest fear is that I will attend UC, be stressed for all 4 years, and spend my life thinking of how much better my experience could've been at Dartmouth.

I am attracted to Dartmouth because of its undergraduate focus,by its Greek life, by its social scene/culture, by its location, by relative grade inflation, and by its alumni network. I am turned off by the potential for Dartmouth to fall further in terms of prestige, by the rumors that Dartmouth doesn't have as strong representation in the fields I am interested in anymore, and by the relative smaller amount of minorities (which really isn't that big of a concern). My biggest fear is that I will attend Dart, see UChicago become even more of a top target, and spend my life regretting not making that choice (or that I find out I don't fit into Dartmouth culture as well as I think I do now).

I apologize if I offend anyone with my pompous, prestige-whore comments and concerns. Again, this is one factor in my decision, and I just wanted to hear what experts in the field think of these schools because I can't find this information from other sources. Again, I'd pick the "less prestigious" Dartmouth over Chicago currently. Thanks for reading and responding!

Comments (18)

Apr 2, 2016

You might not get the answer you're looking for here. As for the stated goal of going to management consulting, firms are going to be concerned with a ton of elements of your application, of which undergrad school is just one. Both UChicago and Dartmouth "check the box," in that they are both undergrads that pass over the necessary threshold of competitive student bodies.

The relative benefits of one over the other are going to be personal. Where are you more comfortable? Where do you feel like participating in more things, both personal and professional? Where do you think you can be more academically successful, both by getting grades and by absorbing meaningful lessons? I don't think anyone here can answer those for you, but they're the meaningful things for you to understand.

I think it's good you're visiting both.

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Apr 2, 2016

Can't beat Chicago for economics. Just can't. Not sure how relevant actually learning something will be for your career but it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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Apr 2, 2016

For NYC recruiting Dartmouth tends to be a bit better. It outweighs Chicago on Wall Street though it's largely due to geographic reasons (for the same reason Stanford has relatively few on Wall Street). But Chicago is generally regarded as the better school overall. It's widely regarded as a top five type of institution, while Dartmouth is more closely considered a "lower Ivy," borderline top 15 school these days.

Best Response
Apr 2, 2016

The TLDR is still too long to read.

Apr 2, 2016

Did you pop an Addy before writing that?

As others have said, you're going to get resume drops at both, so there's not a giant difference in placement. I'd focus more on culture/location/qualitatives, because you're going to be more successful (and happy) at a school where you fit in and love the school.

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Apr 3, 2016

You're going to be able to get resume drops at both, as already mentioned. One factor might be where you want to work long term? I'm guessing your connections at Dartmouth would primarily be Boston office people, while Chicago would have more Chicago office people to make connections with. In what I've found, networking with people at the office you want to be in helps, especially with the second round when you can say I believe that BCG's Chicago location is best for me because these factors that I spoke about with so and so person from the office.

Apr 11, 2016

Would it be fair to say that Dartmouth's culture might prepare me more for Wall Street culture? Or other way around?

Oct 15, 2017

You're asking the wrong questions here, but you're right that culture is important. Instead, look at the culture of each school and where you think YOU as an individual person will enjoy your experience most. I know several people from both Dartmouth and UChicago in IB and they're doing just fine with culture- you'll be fine. I know how it is, but seriously try and stop structuring every detail of your life around Wall Street.

Apr 11, 2016

Both are great schools that will allow you to get interviews for consulting firms as long as you take care of your grades, extra currics, and internships. My personal advice is to choose which ever school seems the most fun to you. Whether that fun comes from being more social or studying econ with some of the top professors in the world is up to you. When you look back at your undergrad years you won't say "fuck, dartmouth (or UC) is more prestigious". I promise you that will never happen as long as you have good times wherever you choose to go. Good luck.

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Apr 11, 2016

Both schools will set you up incredibly well career-wise. Any differences in prestige or job placement will be way more on the margins.

But the two schools are night-and-day different from a culture perspective. You seem to have a good sense of the culture at both places at a high level, but I don't think you've really internalized what that means at a very tactical, day-to-day level. If you want to go frat it up and have a work-hard, play-hard lifestyle, go to Dartmouth. If your idea of fun time is more doing geeky things with quirky people, go to UChicago.

Apr 11, 2016

Honestly, it is way too early to think about consulting or professional services. I would focus on the following things (in my personal order of importance):

(1) Having fun - meeting new people and enjoying your newfound freedom.
(2) Learning to act like an adult - with that newfound freedom comes with some responsibility and ownership; learn to use it wisely.
(3) Developing a set of values - what matters to you in life? Community, friends, money, impact, factors not listed, or some combination thereof?
(4) Intellectual development - having a broad view on economic, social, scientific, and moral issues and how to think through them.
(5) Personal interests - are you a sports hobbyist, serial entrepreneur, foodie, avid reader, engaged volunteer, or something else? What kinds of people and activities do you want to fill your life with?

And MAYBE, just maybe, I'd give a thought as to how you'll start your career after graduating college. But I would NOT make your future first job the central focus of your college choice; think instead of how you'll satisfy those other criteria at either UChicago or Dartmouth, and then decide.

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Apr 12, 2016

You are overthinking it. Prestige? Marginal difference. They are both great schools with strong reputations, albeit in different areas. What matters is what how you feel at the school and what your priorities at this given moment in time are.

Also, competition for consulting positions is fierce anywhere, so you really can't predict your chances of ending up in the industry, though your chances are good at either school. Both Chicago and Dartmouth have resume drops and place well into consulting jobs, but that's all we can say. WSO makes it seem like if you have boutique consulting/F500 strategy/etc. experience, a bit of networking, and a decent GPA, you will get an interview at MBB firms, but it's not that straightforward anymore. Sure, you can do things to increase your chances, but you can't predict anything.

Having just interviewed with big consulting firms and starting at one of them next year, I'd say to go to whichever school makes you feel more comfortable, for the reasons that everyone else mentioned. You're only in college once, and Dartmouth/Chicago are VERY different. Once you visit, your gut will know which is the better fit for you. Stick with it. If you don't feel comfortable with the culture, you will have a much harder time studying, participating in extracurriculars, and being a generally functional human being.

Since you care a lot about job opportunities already, I'll add that there's a practical side to being comfortable on campus. At both schools, the chances that alums will be interviewing you for these positions is high, and they'll get a feel for how satisfied you were with school, how active you were on campus, and what kind of role you played in the community. Some people do a great job of faking a cultural fit with a campus or a company, but at the end of the day, most interviewers can tell.

Oct 13, 2017
Oct 14, 2017

"UChicago has shot up in the rankings"

"Dartmouth is the first school I fell in love with"

Literally that's all I needed to read from your post. Go to Dartmouth.

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Oct 14, 2017


Oct 15, 2017

UChicago is much better than Dartmouth overall. Chicago compares to Yale and Harvard. Darmouth compares to Rice and UT Austin, and a range of school fall in between like Penn, Columbia, MIT, etc.

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Nov 4, 2017

Lol please not even close. Overall Chicago compares at best to Penn and Columbia, it is nowhere near Harvard or Yale. For business recruiting it is far below Penn, Columbia and Dartmouth.
Overall Dartmouth compares to places like Brown, Cornell, Northwestern i.e. non-top 10 elites. Rice comes after and UTAustin comes way after.

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Nov 4, 2017
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