Dartmouth social life can be summed up in one word: pong. For those of you who think pong is throwing balls into cups filled 1/6 of the way with beer, you are mistaken. For anyone who went to Dartmouth, you know that pong involves ping-pong paddles with the handles cut off which you and your partner use to alternately volley the ball back and forth across the table, attempting to hit or sink the ball into your opponents' cups, forcing them to drink warmish keystone light. Pong really is almost a culture at Dartmouth, as most Greek houses have multiple pong tables in their basements, and any Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night you can almost guarantee that all of them will have lines 3 or 4 deep. Asking a guy or girl to be your pong partner in next weekend's tournament is akin to asking them out on a date, with a possible hookup at the end of the night. As you probably have guessed by now, fraternities and sororities have a large presence on campus. Since the town is so small with few places to go out and the surrounding area doesn't offer much either, much of social life takes place on campus, which often means Greek houses. People who aren't in Greek houses however won't have a problem hanging out at them and being friends with their members. There were plenty of people who weren't in a frat or sorority, but hung out either at a particular house all the time or at various houses. I also believe that fraternities and sororities, especially the local sororities, are much different than frats/sororities elsewhere or your traditional Greek houses. At another school (especially a southern one), I probably wouldn't have pledged a house, but there's none of the "we're so pretty and perfect" that I think of when I think of traditional sorority. All the girls at theta where I pledged were so friendly, welcoming, and accepting. We had everything from lesbian rugby players to bookworms to blonde track stars to stoners. We may not have been the prettiest or "coolest" house, but whatever, we had fun and I think were generally known as friendly and accomodating. My sorority was definitely where I made most of my closest friendships and had the biggest (almost all positive) impact on my college career. There are definitely things to do on weekends if you don't like greek life or drinking, but I'm not the one to ask about that. The college sponsored a lot of non-alcoholic late night events, but any that I attended were mainly drunk frat kids looking to score some free pizza. There are some great restaurants, cute shops, and quaint movie theater in Hanover, but for real social life the majority of my experience is Greek houses, with a some dorm/house parties thrown in. Sports teams form another type of major social group, but since they don't have a house or central place, they tend to either mostly all pledge the same house(s), or hang out as a group separately. The best social events at the college are the big weekends each term: homecoming in the fall, winter carnival in the winter, green key in the spring, and tubestock (now fieldstock) in the summer. These are all 4-day long weekends usually starting Wednesday night, where you drink way more than you ever should, try to make it to some of the non-drinking events (speakers, ski races, dinners), but usually wake up monday morning realizing you've spent most of the weekend drinking in a frat basement, except for when you were drinking at the bonfire on green or at the block party at Phi Delt. But these weekends do instill a good sense of Dartmouth pride and make you resolve to do all those non-drinking events when you come back as alumni.
Most popular groups/teams are dance groups (Sheba) and a capella groups (the Aires) and the ski team I was involved with the Dartmouth Dog Day Players, an improv group. We played at student centers and frats around campus. It was sort of like "who's line is it anyway?" but us. Students leave their dorm room open often but now I hear that in order to get into the dorm (from the outside) you have to swipe your student id. Winter Carnival is a popular athletic event for the ski team. Otherwise, just football games are popular. Guest speakers are very popular. Typically political figures or pundits. Theater is very popular. A mainstage, and several other plays go up each term. Dating is not the best. CAmpus is small and options are few and far between. There is quite a bit of "hooking up" but not much dating (that I observed). I met my closest friends pursuing activities that interested me (improv, comedy, radio). 2am on Tuesday I'm probably eating some EBA breadsticks and some pizza with a couple of friends. Traditions...Dartmouth is full of them. There is a homecoming bonfire, winter carnival, green key weekend (spring excuse to party) and each summer there is something called Tubestock (where folks all go down the Connecticut river in tubes). Other traditions include freshman running around the bonfire, seniors sitting on the fence on the green, Dartmouth Outing Club freshman trips, the Baker Tower bells chiming the alma mater every day at 6p. People party every night. Frats and sororities are where they do the partying. Nondrinking activities include comedy shows, radio shows, theater, eating at a local eating establishment, singing at the Lone Pine tavern, playing one of many sports (ski/sled/skate). Off campus is tough to get to unless you have a car, most of us don't. You can go to west leb for taco bell and dept shopping (chain stores don't exist in hanover). You can also roadtrip to Boston or Montreal (both 3 hours), or stop by the gorge.
Dorm room doors are almost always unlocked. Hanover is incredibly safe, and if anything Dartmouth students are too trusting and leave their coats/books/ipods laying around the library. Stuff RARELY goes missing when you consider how much stuff is just left unattended for long periods of time. The most often theft is a coat from a frat basement, but that's usually just a drunken mistake, since everyone here owns the same black northface jacket. (If you come here, but a BRIGHT colored frat jacket so you can always find it easily and no one can mistake it for their own) Athletic events aren't especially popular...men's hockey is huge. Lacrosse is big too, because our teams are so good. Volleyball has become a lot more popular. Basketball and football don't draw as many students as one would expect. Traditions- there's a big festival every term- Homecoming, Winter Carnival, Green Key, and Fieldstock (formerly Tubestock). They're all amazing and fun and involve a lot of parties and drinking. Frats and sororities are HUGE but they are very different from what people typically expect from them. Since so many people are involved (especially in the sorority system), you can basically be as involved or uninvolved as you want- there's no psycho hazing or mandatory meetings. It's just a way to meet more people sophomore year. People at Dartmouth claim there is no dating scene and that pong takes the place of real dates. I agree somewhat but also think that's an excuse a lot of people use so they can hookup with anyone they want and never putt forth the effort to be in a real relationship and not feel bad about it. I met my boyfriend here as a freshman and we've been dating ever since. There are a LOT of Dartmouth couples- if you know what you want and don't use frat culture as an excuse, dating is very possible.
Personally, Dartmouth was quite an adjustment. College IS inevitably going to be an adjustment, and I came from a group of naive friends who didn't drink, go out, or party in the least. So transitioning to college, where people party every weekend, took a little bit of time and effort. It took a while for me to realize that drinking and partying are a part of life at virtually every school, not just Dartmouth. But it's something to be considered for incoming students, that the frat scene here is significant. Basically, that means that instead of drinking in their rooms or at houses, kids go out to the frats for dance parties and socializing virtually every weekend. And they are an integral part of the social scene. Along with clubs, outdoors groups, and sports teams, they ARE the social scene, to be honest. But frats are open to everyone, and it's basically a bunch of kids standing around in a room, drinking, dancing, talking, and playing pong (real pong - with paddles). After a while, you learn to enjoy it most of the time, even if you dont drink much, like me.
The Greek scene is vital to the party scene. The frats supply everything: free alcohol, parties, and space to socialize. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are all party days. Homecoming, Winter Carnival, and Green Key are all major party weekends as well. With that being said, very few people lock their doors at night. We all trust each other and incidents involving theft or trashing someone else's room are almost unheard of. The dating scene is pretty much nonexistent. You're either so committed to your significant other that you are practically married or randomly hooking up with people at parties or not really involved in any type of sexual relationship. The D-Plan makes it difficult to date (because you could both be off at different times) and the Greek scene facilitates the random hook ups. Our sports teams all pretty much suck so people generally only attend their favorite sports games. Over homecoming, however, it is almost mandatory for everyone to attend the football game.
Even though Hanover is small, there is SO much to do, so long as you like fraternities. If not, then you shoudn't even bother applying to Dartmouth. The frats are the main social scene, with several parties every weekend and even a few during the week. It's a fun place to hang out with friends and meet new people, especially upper classmen. There is also the Hop, where movies are shown as well as plays and other performances. The shows are really different and great to go to. Students should be cultured and experience these things. The dating scene is very strange at Dartmouth. Hook-ups are more common than dating, and with our "d-plan," it's hard to keep a relationship going. And everyone is so involved with so many things that having a boy/girlfriend just becomes an obligation or chore. People date, but not as often as people just looking for some physical pleasure over the weekend.
Frats (which shouldn't be lumped together because many of them are different and stray away from the common stereotype of a fraternity.) There are so many clubs and groups on campus that it's hard to keep track of them (there are even clubs for "medieval enthusiasts" and "The Dartmouth Union of Bogglers") The school has a lot of wacky and fun traditions that you'll have to hear more about when you get to Dartmouth (the traditions themselves, like the Bonfire for freshmen, Pre-orientation Outing Club trips, Homecoming, etc. aren't secrets, but some of the traditions WITHIN those traditions are!) If you're into sports (especially winter sports) we've got 'em (and our Hockey team is the most popular on campus.) There's always high profile guest speakers on campus, clubs, plays, movie screenings, etc. There's so much going on that you'll need a good calendar to take it all in.
i would say that the teams like the hockey, football, lacrose, and soccer teams are the most popular people on campus. athletic events vary each game. The big ivy games are usually the most crowded ones. I play women's lacrosse. almost everyone i know leaves their doors unlocked. if i am awake at 2 am on a tuesday i am doing a project. DOC trips, bonfire, winter carnival, toga party, tdx mas, people party up to 4 times a week typically. frats and sororities are pretty important to our social scene as there isnt a 'bar' scene here. if you do not want to drink you can go see a movie, hang in the dorm, see a show at the hop, hang in collis etc. the only true off campus thing would be to go to west leb for food, movie, wall mart etc.
There's a lot of service. There's a lot of drinking. Hockey is big, football is not so big. Students often find an activity and base their social life around that group. There are world class performers and lecturers who come through-- it's great. There are great late night conversations, and I've formed really good, close friends here. The D-plan, our funny schedule, is really really hard on those relationships, though, and you're forced to meet new people and move around a lot. People watch movies, or they just hang out when they aren't drinking. My friends and I will sit around and sing songs with a guitar.
The frats are the most popular organizations I would say. students do leave their dorms open and i am on the womens lacrosse team. The dating scene is what you make of it, there is the casual and the serious. My closest friend is on my team and she is also from back home. The frats are pretty much where everyone goes when they go out. Last weekend I hung out with my team. You can always go to the Nugget and see a movie if you dont want to drink. or you can go to the frats and just not drink, most people really dont care anyway.