Graduates of the College share certain common traits

by Elysa Jacobs | 6/9/96 5:00am

Four years in close quarters leads most Dartmouth graduates to have certain common personality traits.

In addition to the capacity to tolerate bad weather, students graduating from Dartmouth tend to be more well-rounded, better writers and less prepared for technical work than their peers from other schools, some university administrators say.

Associate Dean of Thayer School of Engineering Benoit Cushman-Roisin said Dartmouth graduates entering the Thayer school "tend to be a little weak on the technical side of things."

Although Dartmouth graduates may have taken fewer traditional technical engineering courses than students elsewhere, they are much stronger in non-technical subjects, Cushman-Roisin said.

Dartmouth graduates "are better writers. They can articulate their ideas more clearly and effectively and are able to place trends in engineering in a larger societal context," Cushman-Roisin said.

He said Dartmouth graduates soon make up for their disadvantage because they tend to be excellent independent learners.

Comparative Literature department Chair Diana Taylor, who oversees graduate students from other colleges in Dartmouth's Masters in Literature program, said, "Students at Dartmouth are stellar writers, there is no question about that."

Taylor said the College breeds good writers because so many students write honors theses and because everyone takes a freshman seminar.

Because of Dartmouth's language requirement, Dartmouth students have more opportunities for careers in other countries, said Sally Jaeger, the associate director of admissions of the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration.

But even if Dartmouth graduates tend to have more career options than their peers elsewhere, they tend to go into a relatively small number of fields.

Susan Dentzer '77, a member of the College's Board of Trustees, said College President James Freedman few Dartmouth graduates "become real leaders other than in law or business ... [there are only a few] people who took a risk that propelled them forward in a field that didn't necessarily afford them a lot of compensation."

"A lot of the Dartmouth alumni ... take the safer route in a sense [many students] go into law, go into medicine, the professions where you can have a nice life and make great contributions and I in no way want to diminish them," Dentzer said.

Freedman said he wishes more graduates would find jobs with non-profit organizations. But he said traditional careers also offer opportunities for service.

"Law and medicine offer wonderful opportunities for public service," Freedman said.

Dartmouth alumni may tend to be more well-rounded than graduates of other schools.

Jaeger said Dartmouth's distributive requirements and interdisciplinary courses give Dartmouth graduates diverse skills.

They help graduates see "the big picture and look at a variety of different approaches," she said.

Some graduating seniors agree.

Aaron Sandoski '96 said he thinks the College produces well-rounded individuals, whereas other schools prepare students for careers after graduation.

"We don't focus on just engineering. We have a well-rounded academic experience as well as social and cultural involvement," Sandoski said.

Sandoski said the Dartmouth Plan causes students to have better social skills than students at other colleges. He said Dartmouth students are better able to adjust to changing environments.

Social skills are fostered by the College's "emphasis on off terms, sophomore summer and semesters abroad," he said. Sandoski said corporate recruiters look favorably on Dartmouth graduates because they can adapt to the changes wrought by the D Plan.

Perhaps the personality trait most common among Dartmouth alumni is their love for the College.

Director of Alumni Relations Nelson Armstrong '71 said, "We probably have the most passionate alumni in the world."

Dartmouth Alumni Magazine Editor Jay Heinrichs said Dartmouth alumni tend to be well-versed in the College's lore.

He guessed that only 5 percent of Middlebury College students would know who founded the school, while Dartmouth's founder Eleazar Wheelock is part of the campus consciousness.

"Ask a Brandeis graduate to sing the [Brandeis] alma mater," Heinrichs said. He said almost no Brandeis graduates would know the song.