Monday, October 1, 2012

Meryl Streep College

Meryl Streep spent a term at Dartmouth through the 12-college exchange while a student at Vassar College.






Streep was one of the first women ever to attend Dartmouth while the school was still all male.

It has to be noted that Meryl Streep came to Dartmouth during the fall of her senior year at Vassar after hearing about the reputation of the College's drama department.

"I heard of (former drama professor and department chair) Rod Alexander," Meryl claimed. "I met some kids from Dartmouth who came to Vassar, and they seemed pretty cool."


"Part of the lure of Dartmouth was that I could take a full course of study and have three and a half weeks vacations," Streep was quoted as saying, referring to the D-plan's variance from a normal semester college system.



Streep found herself enjoying Hanover in the fall. "I enjoyed it a lot," Streep admitted.

Streep attributes the higher grades she got at Dartmouth to a general sense that everyone was going on to law school or business school and needed the boost.

"Dartmouth was the only time in my life when I got all As," Streep revealed. "I think the faculty at Vassar wanted you to know the meaning of a B+."

Streep herself was heading for drama school, finally, and did not appear bothered by numerical grades. She spent much of her time honing her acting skills.


At Dartmouth, Meryl took a playwrighting class with legendary drama professor Errol Hill.

"Every week we studied a different period of drama history and designed countless numbers of costumes for each one," Streep recalled. "It was one of my favorite courses."

"I was sustained just by the beauty of Dartmouth," Streep continued.

"It was very interesting to feel something proprietary about the school. I felt like a Dartmouth student," Streep declared, though male students often disagree with her.

On the other hand, Streep admitted: "The social life was ridiculous," noting the stranglehold of the fraternities on the nightlife was not much different than it is today. 


Needless to say that Streep was not happy at all with the fraternity system.

"I went over to that row once in a while," Streep joked about her experiences with fraternities on Webster Avenue. "It was interesting to me to see the (other) girls bust into houses like cattle to the slaughter."

Streep revealed: "I wish I went to Dartmouth now ... or maybe five years from now," alluding to the Trustees' Student Life Initiative which has a preliminary implementation timeline of five years.

Streep remembers a very different Dartmouth. The ratio of men to women was over 50 to 1 in the fall of 1970. She stated she remembers an overtone of animosity toward the female students.

"They really didn't want us here," Streep said of the male students. "There was an us and them feel to campus."


Streep admits that she is grateful to Dartmouth because it helped her build self confidence, among other things.




When asked about the plays she was in, Meryl claimed she did not remember being in one while she was at the College!

After graduating from Vassar in the spring of 1971, Streep came back to the Upper Valley to be with her boyfriend at the time, who was starting at the Dartmouth Medical School.

Streep lived in Norwich, Vt. for the next year, acting with the Green Mountain Guild in Quechee, Vt. She waited tables at the Hanover Inn to augment the low pay of the theater business.


The following summer, while continuing to act and wait tables, Meryl applied to the Yale University School of Drama. She received a scholarship to attend and enrolled that fall.

After Yale, the rest is history...


What do you think of Meryl Streep's college education?

Photo credit:  Barnard College/David Wentworth


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