Location: Davidson, North Carolina
Funding: Private liberal arts college
Size: 1,850 students
Percent Women: 50%
Tuition (one year): $45,377
Most Popular Majors: Political Science, Economics, Biology, English, Psychology
Greek Life: Eight national fraternities, four local women’s eating houses, two sororities
Acceptance Rate: 25.6%
For more information about financial aid, scholarships, majors, study abroad, and average test scores, visit Davidson College’s website at http://davidson.edu
Why Choose Davidson?
What Davidson students say about their school...
“At Davidson, you quickly get the sense that the community here is one of a kind, and that it extends beyond your four years as a student. Davidson alumni bend over backwards to support current students and remain deeply invested in the school.”
“It’s a great time to be a woman at Davidson. From the first female President of the college, Carol Quillen, to the new Vice President of Academic Affairs, Wendy Raymond, the faculty and administration are full of inspiring female leadership.”
“I applied to other schools with honor codes, but nowhere else did I get the sense that the honor code was such an integral part of the community as it is here. Perpetually unlocked doors. Self-scheduled exams. I could go on for hours…there is a real sense here that people are committed to honor and integrity in all aspects of their lives.”
“We’re a Northeastern-style liberal arts school with Southern weather and a Division I basketball team. What more could you possibly ask for?”
One of Davidson’s most unique features is its Honor Code. At the end of orientation, each new first-year signs a pledge saying she/he will not lie, cheat, or steal regarding any academic work, and that philosophy carries over into everyday life. People often leave their belongings unattended for a period of time without even thinking twice. Everyone feels safe here.
The Honor Code also allows for self-scheduled final exams, which make the stress surrounding finals week much more manageable. On any day of finals week, you can go to the exam center, pick up your exam, and take it in any room in Chambers entirely unproctored. You do what works best for your schedule and never have to worry about taking more than one final in a day (unless that’s what you want, of course). To top it off, various clubs throw free food, massages, and puppy cuddle sessions at you all week leading up to exams.
Spring Frolics is Davidson’s attempt at imitating a weekend at a big party school. There’s a lot of debauchery all day Friday and Saturday (including an amazing Union Board event Saturday afternoon with inflatable slip ‘n’ slides and games and live music), and then everyone goes back to her studious self on Sunday morning. Frolics functions as prime fodder for some of the best stories of your college career.
While the workload is sometimes difficult to manage, professors generally make themselves available whenever they can. They care about you and want you to succeed, and they’ll do anything to help you get there. Small class sizes (as small three students!) ensure that no one slips through the cracks.
What Davidson students are saying...
“Wifi for sure.”
“Bradford puts me on the remediation network when there aren’t even any updates for my computer.“
“Wifi is fine in some dorms and really slow in others, and sometimes the heat and AC are weird in some of the rooms.”
“Our food is pretty good compared to other schools, but there’s not a ton of variety.”
“I wish there were more vegetarian options in the eating houses.”
“Why the heck is Union breakfast not on meal plan?”
“I think there needs to be a more efficient meal system, where Dining Dollars roll over, Commons opens earlier on weekends, and your card can be swiped for more than one meal in the same meal block.”
“Davidson needs a better, more concise way to communicate events to students. With The Crier, posters, and emails, there’s an overload.”
“I think there needs to be increased collaboration between organizations with overlapping causes or missions, so that there’s more efficiency and we’re best using our resources and funding to go toward the student body.”
“There should be more of an effort to bridge the gap between “up the hill” people and “down the hill” people.”
New Collegiette on Campus
Coming to college is probably the most fun and most stressful thing you'll ever do. Coming to Davidson is definitely both of these. Matched by a Myers-Briggs test, you have a really good chance of being friends with your roommate and hall programs help you immediately make friends. Adjusting to classes probably won't be stressful at first, but don't get lulled into a false sense of security -- stay on top of your studies and you'll thank yourself at the end of finals. But try not to disappear into the textbooks! Go out and experience a court party, attend the parties at F, see Live Thursday performances, join a team (even if it's something you've never done before), stay up late and chill in the hallway until 2 A.M. discussing everything. Be careful to fully experience everything that you can while also making sure you have time for yourself and to just do nothing. They say we're passionate at Davidson. We are. And we're passionate about meeting new first-years. It's a great day to be a Wildcat. (Proper response: Every day is a great day to be a Wildcat!)
Some advice from current first-year students:
"Play flickerball! You'll make a lot of friends."
"Definitely do Odyssey. Not showering for seven days really brings you closer to each other."
"Don't lose yourself in the mad rush that is Davdison. You do you and that's enough."
"Take advantage of your advisors. You get a lot of them, and they are so eager to help you."
All About Academics
Davidson is a really tough school, but with students who are tougher. The most popular majors are Political Science, English, Psychology, History, and Biology. Many majors require a final capstone project, experiment or research project, or thesis, but sometimes the departments provide options. A preliminary adviser is assigned to you upon arrival at Davidson, and is there for as much as you need them to be, but then you switch to an adviser of your choosing once you declare your major. Course registration (WebTree) can be a nightmare the first few times you do it (or every time). It follows a flow chart-type strategy that kind of looks like a tree (hence the name). Eventually you figure out that you just have to keep putting the same classes in each tree and just change the order here and there. Getting into classes you really want can be challenging during your first year or two. But as you try to get into more major specific and more in depth topics, then it gets easier. Fulfilling the distribution requirements for Davidson can be irritating, but they’re pretty easy to get done within the first year or so, and the registrar provides a nice list of which classes fulfill each requirement.
Work at Davidson is no joke. The professors have high expectations, and the students’ expectations are higher. We work our butts off, but it’s not for nothing. Employers who know about Davidson know that we’re the hardest working students you can find. While it may seem overwhelming at times, the workload is manageable and we do it well. Sometimes people at Davidson don’t just spend time in the library, they live in the library. Students bring their books to the library and never leave. You can get a carrel in the library, often sharing with someone else, and you can have a table whenever you want. The first floor of the library is a social place at night, but not typically during the day. The second floor is more for studying, and the basement is where good souls go to sell themselves to academia. However, for those who don’t like the library, there are many other places on campus to study, including the Union, computer labs, and most of the other academic buildings. For the nights when the load is light, students will often work in the residence hall lounges or at the desks in their rooms, such that they can still feel like they have time to socialize. But don’t worry, in our highly scheduled and work-focused minds, we still block out Friday and Saturday nights from 6 PM to 2 AM to let loose and get weird.
Learn from the Best
Davidson is known for its low student to faculty to ratio (10:1), and the average class size is 15 students, with over 70% of classes with fewer than 20 students. Almost every major has a special class that all students rush to add on webtree every semester. For instance, Chemistry of Art and Artifacts has long been a popular class to fill the lab science distribution requirement. Recently, Professor Fackler’s Gossip seminar in English has been popular for examining how gossip pervades life. Unique talents are abound as well, with faculty bands like Davidson Local, led by Dr. Wertheimer, performing regularly to encoring students and community members.
What Davidson students are saying…
“I choose Davidson because of the close relationship professors and students have. The door is always open to talk to any professor.”
“Professors really care about students. Davidson is about world-class research AND world-class teaching.”
Interests & Involvement
What Davidson students are saying...
“There are so many clubs and organizations at Davidson that you could spend your weeks exclusively working in them instead of taking classes. To make a difference in any of these groups, you need to choose just a few organizations that are in line with what you want to do after college or are addressing something you’re really passionate about.”
“[There are] many choices for all kinds of people with whatever interests. If you don’t find what you like, create your own organization with friends!”
“Originally, the members of the club did not seem friendly because few of them too the initiative to introduce themselves. As I got to know them, however, they became a group of friends I could always count on to be there.”
“Chorale [Davidson College Chorale] is a great opportunity to separate myself from day-to-day pressures at Davidson and make beautiful music with a wonderful group of people.”
“I enjoy campus clubs because they are so inviting. If I talk about it and it interests my friend, I can easily take them to the next meeting or event and vice versa.”
“I like going to club activities. You get to have fun with your friends and just get out of your room and do something.”
Davidson is certainly most famous for its basketball team, and students pack into Baker to watch the team play on McKillop Court, named for the beloved coach of twenty-five years, for every home game. Some students even attest that “going to basketball games is the highlight of my week – I always look forward to cheering on the Wildcats.” Davidson has so much more to offer than Steph Curry’s fame and its basketball team though. Whether it’s encouraging the lacrosse team or going to soccer games, Davidson students love supporting their athletes. One student reminisced that “nothing feels more like spring than going to Wilson Field for baseball games,” and another remembered “football games as a great chance to hang out with fellow students.” In addition to our Division I varsity teams, almost all of the Davidson student body is involved in club or intramural sports. One of the greatest intramural sports tradition is Flickerball, which one student recalls as “a great tradition among Freshmen halls that helps everyone get to know each other,” as they compete for the coveted intramural champion title. Another of the beloved aspects of Davidson athletics is the small school mentality that allows all students to get to know their athletes and support them on a more personal level. The Davidson sports experience was summed up by one student who said, “Davidson is such a small school that odds are you know at least one person on that field. It’s awesome to go to a basketball game and say, ‘I have class with that guy’ or to shout, ‘that’s my roommate’ when she scores a goal. It’s really inspiring to watch these student athletes succeed in something about which they are very passionate (especially when you consider they’re managing a Davidson workload too!).”
Davidson may be a small school, but students and faculty are doing big things. In particular, students and faculty strive always change and improve, expanding the ways they think and research. Davidson is constantly expanding ways to raise awareness and discussion on women’s issues. From the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department to Her Campus Davidson, from the Women’s Action Committee to the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, feminist power is abound at Davidson. Furthermore, the ratio of women to men at Davidson is equal.
Food & Drink
What Davidson students are saying...
“We may only have one dining hall on campus, but Vail Commons has everything you could ever want. From the Create-Your-Own-Pizza Station, to the Build-Your-Own-Sandwich Bar, to the extensive salad bar, and ever-changing entrée line, eating at Commons never gets boring. All of the ingredients are fresh, and the entrees are never frozen, and it’s all locally grown and purchased. Plus, the chicken parm is hands down the best thing Commons serves.”
“If you’re not in the mood for Commons, or want a quick meal, the student Union has a wide variety of dining options. My favorite is the turkey wrap, but they also have burgers, deli sandwiches, pasta, and an international bar that’s always rotating out different types of food.”
“Incoming students are fortunate because a new coffee house just opened up on campus. Summit Coffee serves more than coffee though, with artisan pizzas, salads, and paninis on the menu, which provides a nice break from the traditional college dining options.”
“There are three kitchens available for student use well-spaced throughout campus that my friends and I used to make dinner and cookies during our first and second years. Now as a junior I live in an on-campus apartment, which comes with a fully functional kitchen and is a perfect spot for making a meal.”
“The town of Davidson is small, but there are an impressive number of places to eat within walking distance of campus. My personal favorite is Toast, which has the best brunch around, but my friends really like Brickhouse for a sit-down meal, the Soda Shop for a milkshake, the Prickly Pear for sandwiches, and Flat Iron, which is nicer and perfect for when your parents are visiting and paying for your meal!”
“The best part about Free Cone Day was that there is a Ben & Jerry’s located five minutes from campus, and my friends and I could walk there after class.”
“Every fast food chain, restaurant chain, and froyo chain imaginable is located a few exits down the highway from Davidson, making off-campus eating quick and accessible. I love Tenders, a local chicken and French fries place found ten minutes from campus.”
What Davidson students are saying...
"F," the apartment building where many people congregate on weekends.
“Whether you want to stay in your room and study every night or go out four times a week (these are the two extremes and most people fall in the middle), there is something for everyone. The social scene is whatever you make of it.”
“A lot of the social scene revolves around life ‘down the hill,’ and the fraternities and eating houses. There is no stigma against people who don’t drink, although many people in Patterson Court organizations do. Everyone is extremely welcoming and every party is open, making it easy meeting new people. Even though it is a small school, there are always new people to meet, so it doesn’t seem cloyingly small.”
“Whenever I go out at Davidson I always feel extremely safe, even if I happen to lose my friends or find myself alone.”
Connor, one of the four women’s eating houses at Davidson.
“For those who aren’t into going out, the Union Board always sponsors events on the weekends from Build-A-Bear to movie screenings to rollerblading and those are a lot of fun and always free too! There are also events on weeknights such as Live Thursdays, which showcases student performances, and trivia nights at the new campus coffee shop.”
“A typical Friday or Saturday at Davidson starts with hanging around with friends. If you want to go out, then people head to F, which is the senior apartment building where most fraternities have apartments. F is a great place just to talk to new people and socialize, and there is always beer provided. Court parties are thrown by fraternities and eating houses and are great for dancing and listening to fun music. Definitely brush up on your swing dancing skills before Davidson!”
“All the fraternities and eating houses are non-residential and with the exception of formals, all their events are open. I love the eating house system because it is a great way to meet upperclassmen and other girls who I probably wouldn’t know otherwise.”
Just your average eating house “sisterhood.”
As a junior that has lived on campus for the past three years I have plenty to say about Davidson’s on campus living options. All first-year students live in first-year dorms like Belk, Cannon, Watts, Richardson and Sentelle. Sophomores and juniors live in any of those dorms and Tomlinson, New Dorm, Duke, Little, Irwin, Akers, or Knox. Juniors and seniors often live in on-campus apartments, consisting of four bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. These include the Ryburn, Davis, Flowe, F, B, Jamieson, and Hart buildings. A large majority of people live in dorms throughout their Davidson career (over 90%) and enjoy central locations, access to free laundry services and being close to on-campus weekend festivities. The two types of dorm communities are sub-free (substance free) and non-sub-free.
My first year was spent on Cannon dorm below a sub-free hall. The sub-free hall was usually quiet at nights and on weekends and the residents seemed to bond often with movie and game nights. While I lived on a non-sub-free hall, the rules against under-aged drinking and drug use still applied. The biggest difference I remember was that many non-sub-free residents would go out on weekends together or joined eating houses together. Both sub-free and non-sub-free have their pros and cons and the label should not restrict incoming freshman from joining clubs or meeting new people.
Each dorm has its own reputation that is largely based on the type of people that live there. Belk is the biggest dorm with girls and guys living on the same floor in different wings of the hall. Because so many first-year students live in Belk, it is known to be more of a “party” dorm. Outside of it’s fun reputation Belk is also home to a computer lab, close to Vail Commons (the main dining hall), and Chambers (the main academic building). Dorm Row is where Cannon and Sentelle are located which is even closer to Chambers, the Library and the Student Union. Each of these dorms has a mix of sub-free and non-sub-free halls, large and mostly renovated rooms, and a good mix of personalities. I loved living in Cannon because it was really clean and the people that lived there seemed to value the space a lot. Lastly, Richardson dorm is rumored to be under-renovation soon, which would make it one of the nicest first-year dorms. It is located adjacent to Commons, Belk Parking lot (first-years can bring cars), and The Multicultural House (an awesome place for discussion and my favorite study-spot).
Keep in mind that roommates are paired by Myers-Briggs test results and they usually work out well with over 40% of students rooming with their first-year roommate again during their Davidson career. First-year halls have two Hall Counselors to help guide you through your first year. First-year halls do a great amount of bonding through activities like the First-year Olympics, Flickerball and Hall dinners. My first-year hall once hosted our own “Cannon Ball” where we invited people from other dorms and hung out in our lounge. Dorms are ultimately safe because of students having to “swipe in” using their CatCards (an I.D. card that all students use to get into all dormitories).
The Small Town/Big City Experience
Davidson students fondly refer to the college campus and the surrounding town as the “Davidson Bubble.” The town of Davidson has only 10,000 residents, and many have a connection to the college. That being said, Davidson is a mere 30-minute commute to Charlotte, the second largest banking city in the nation with a population of over 2.5 million. Davidson is not a ‘commuter college,’ and the vast majority of social life takes plane on campus, but students absolutely take advantage of the Big City just down the road. Between internship opportunities and a wealth of alumni strings to tug on for postgraduate job offerings (investment banking, for example), Davidson students have a beautiful balance between the small town/big city life.
Top Spots in Davidson:
- Summit Coffee: Founded by Davidson graduates in 1998, this quaint, Asheville-esque coffee spot on Main Street has flourished. Check out their second location on the college campus!
- Toast Café: Toast serves breakfast all day and is a wildly popular alternative to Davidson’s cafeteria. Their strawberry-nutella stuffed French toast is wicked good.
- Brick House Tavern: Night Life in the town of Davidson is no Franklin Street, but students (and professors) have been known to congregate at this watering hole on Main Street to watch basketball games or celebrate the end of a tough week.
- The Greenway: Accessible from various spots around the city, this paved path runs through neighborhoods and 'wilderness.'
But Wait, There's More! Top Spots in Charlotte:
For adventuresome folks/those wanting to temporarily escape the ‘bubble,’ here are some spots to head for when campus is too small to handle.
- Concerts: There are too many venues to list all of them; suffice it to say, if a popular solo artist Ke$ha/big band/Coldplay/southern group/Avett Brothers is on tour, they will likely play in Charlotte. Notable venues: Fillmore Charlotte, PNC Music Pavilion Charlotte.
- Blumenthal Performing Arts: A national off-Broadway tour isn’t complete without a stint at Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Recent productions have included Wicked, Blue Man Group, The Book of Mormon, and The Lion King.
- Night Life: Restaurants, bars, clubs, you name it- although 10 pm in the town of Davidson on Friday might be quiet, Charlotte’s night has just begun!
- South Park Mall: Shopaholics beware--this isn’t your run-of-the-mill shopping mall. Afternoons (and children, temporarily of course) have disappeared between clothing racks and displays of designer bags.
- National Whitewater Center: Yes, Olympians train here. No, they don’t want to sign an autograph, but they might show you some tips for taking a curve on the “slalom competition” whitewater rapids channel.
HC's Complete College Guide: Davidson College
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