Dickinson is a private, residential, liberal arts college known for its academic curriculum and excellent international education programs in 12 study centers abroad. The programs of this college have been recognized by the American Council on Education and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Dickinson College was established as Carlisle grammar school in 1773, a school meant for the young frontier men in western Pennsylvania. The awarding of a charter in 1783 was momentous with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in the same year; the events were, in fact, five days apart. Dickinson is historically the first college to be founded in the newly recognized United States. The founder was Benjamin Rush, a revolutionary leader and signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. The school was named in honor of a signer of the Constitution, John Dickinson, who was later the President of Pennsylvania.
The college closed down for several years, from 1816 to 1821, due to several factors including financial problems and dissension among the faculty. The school closed for a second time during 1832 when the board of trustees was not able to find a solution for a curriculum dispute among the faculty.
Dickinson Law School was a part of the college in 1833, but the school became an independent institution in 1890. The Dickinson Law School formally separated from Dickinson in 1919, and is now affiliated with Pennsylvania State University. At present, affiliation between the undergraduate college and the Law School is non-existent.
Dickinson College was historic for having been the alma mater of two of the important proponents of the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision, which led to the civil war, James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, and Roger Brooke Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Confederate forces twice occupied Carlisle and the Dickinson campus in 1863.
The Metzger Institute was opened when George Metzger, an alumnus of Dickinson College class of 1798, donated his land and fortune to the town and the college. The all-female institution was separate from the college until 1913. When the building of Metzger was leased to Dickinson, the two institutions merged.
Athletics if a big part of student life, with the Dickinson Red Devils participating in the NCAA Division III Centennial Conference. Dickinson College has 23 varsity sports teams all in all, including female and male teams in baseball and softball, football, tennis, track and field, basketball, swimming, country, equestrian, volleyball and hockey. A cheerleading squad exists, as well as other club sports such as ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer and ultimate frisbee.
Dickinson has an Office of Campus Life that manages every aspect of student life in the college including student organizations and residences, particularly Special Interest Housing (SIH). At Dickinson, students are given the opportunity to live with others that share common interests. This housing program encourages the intellectual development of groups of students who live under the same roof by virtue of their common goals and passions. Each house is under the care of a faculty or staff advisor, who is expected to execute programs and plan goals along with the student members of each house. Greek societies, as well as several hat societies exist on campus.
Admitted students that applied for financial aid are required to send proof of financial need for the college to come up with an appropriate financial aid package. Need-based aid packages usually include grants, loans and work study opportunities. Merit-based scholarships are also awarded to some first year students. The average debt after graduation is $25,000.