Early Decision acceptances decline
By Lindsay Brewer And Jay Webster, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Dartmouth offered admission to 444 early decision applicants in the Class of 2015, marking 17 fewer students than last year, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris said. The College received a record-high 1,759 early decision applications — a 12 percent increase from last year — for consideration among its early decision pool, a trend that was reflected in other higher education institutions.
The admissions office plans to keep the total size of the incoming class consistent with the Class of 2013, despite an increase in the size of the Class of 2014. The overall number of students in the Class of 2014 was larger than in previous years in an attempt to increase the College’s revenue during a year of extensive budget cuts, The Dartmouth previously reported.
Those accepted under the early decision program will comprise approximately 40 percent of the class, the release said.
“For the Class of 2015, we’re aiming for roughly 1,090 to 1,100 matriculants, which is where we had been for several years prior to the Class of 2014,” Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris said. “We took fewer students in early decision.”
The College plans to seek feedback regarding the impact of additional members of the Class of 2014 on advising, first-year seminars, housing and dining before deciding whether to increase the size of future classes, Laskaris said.
“The decision last year to increase the class size was meant to be a one-year decision,” she said. “Before we make any further decisions about the optimal class size at Dartmouth, we did want faculty to have the opportunity to asses the class size and have a lot of different folks weigh in on whether this is something we can sustain.”
The number of overall applicants increased from 1,594 for the class of 2014 to 1,759 for the class of 2015, according to the press release.
The spike in applications caused the percentage of students accepted under the early decision program to fall to 25 percent, down from last year’s acceptance rate of 29 percent.
The number of early decision applicants has increased by 37 percent over the past five years and the College’s overall application numbers have grown nearly 80 percent over the last decade, excluding the class of 2015, according to Laskaris.
“We have been on a steady upward trajectory for the last decade in terms of the overall volume of applications,” Laskaris said.
Nationally, colleges that offer early admissions options have seen increases in early applicants in recent years.
“In our annual monitoring of admissions trends, we have seen a very consistent tendency for colleges to report increases in early decision numbers over the last five years,” director of public policy and research at the National Association of College Admissions Counseling David Hawkins said.
Fifty-one percent of surveyed colleges reported an increase in early decision applications, according to the NACAC Spring 2009 release, “Effects of the Economy on the Admission Process.”
The mean SAT score of admitted early decision applicants for the Class of 2015 declined from 2150 last year to 2144 this year, according to the release, although Laskaris said the six-point change is “not a significant difference.”
“This year’s mean SAT composite is very similar to last year’s and is also the second highest mean composite score of any group admitted in early decision,” she said, adding that “decisions are not driven by testing.”
Hawkins said that six-point changes in mean SAT score may be within the margin of error.
“One of the knocks against early decision is that students tend to have slightly lower test scores and grades in terms of admissions, particularly at the most elite colleges,” Hawkins said.
Among the schools that provided the College with class rankings, 25 percent of accepted early applicants are ranked first in their classes, while 87 percent are in the top 10 percent of their classes, according to Laskaris.
Approximately 7 percent of the students admitted came from schools outside the United States, which is “similar to last year,” she said. Students of color represent about 22 percent of the accepted students, a decrease of four percentage points from last year.
“Although the results are slightly different from last year, the students admitted early decision to the Class of 2015 comprise one of the two or three most diverse groups we’ve ever had,” Laskaris said.
The admissions office has made conscious efforts to broaden the diversity of students applying to Dartmouth and will continue to conduct a holistic review of applicants in its admissions decisions, Laskaris said.
“Right now, the diversity of the [Class of 2015 applicant] pool has shown an uptake in terms of the representation of students of color in the regular decision applicant pool,” she said
Minority students are sometimes underrepresented in early decision applicant pools, Hawkins said.
“There is certainly research stating that students that are non-traditional — whether they are first generation, low income or underrepresented minority students — don’t tend to take advantage of early admissions as often as their peers do,” he said.
Three members of the early decision group were accepted through QuestBridge, an organization that helps talented low-income students attend college, according to the press release. The College accepted another student through the Iraqi Student Project, which enables Iraqi students to continue their education in the United States while the war continues in Iraq, the release stated.
An Olympic gold medalist was also admitted into the Class of 2015 as an early decision applicant, according to Laskaris. She declined to provide further information to protect the student’s privacy.
The admissions staff has devised “new and personal ways” to reach out to prospective students, which may have contributed to the increase in applications, Laskaris said. These methods include “social media, on-campus programming and off-campus travel,” she said.
Dartmouth’s financial aid policy is another attractive feature that may have led to the increase in applications, according to Laskaris.
“A commitment to need-blind admissions and meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need continues to be vitally important to prospective students and their families,” she said.
Yale University admitted 14.5 percent of its early action applicants, an increase from its 13.9 percent admittance rate last year, according to the Yale Daily News.
Columbia University experienced a 7.2 percent increase in early decision applicants, with a total of 3,229 undergraduate applicants — a record high for the institution, the Columbia Spectator reported.
The admissions office accepted 19.6 percent of early decision applications, which was a record low for Columbia. While in previous years Columbia required applicants to submit a specific application unique to the University, the admissions office accepted the Common Application and a smaller supplement for the first time this year, the Spectator reported.
The University of Pennsylvania admitted 26 percent of early decision applicants, down from its 31 percent acceptance rate last year, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian. Penn saw an 18 percent increase in applications this year and accepted 5 fewer students from its early decision pool.
Cornell University experienced a 3.84 percent decrease in early admissions applications, according to The New York Times. Cornell accepted 35.16 percent of early applicants, up from 32.69 percent last year.
Brown University received three percent fewer early applications than last year, the Times reported.
Harvard University and Princeton University do not have early admissions programs.
Although Dartmouth has also received more regular decision applicants than last year, Laskaris said she does not yet know an exact number.
“I know that we have already exceeded last year’s total, but we are still processing submissions,” Laskaris said.