Dartmouth admits 9.7 percent of applicants
By Lindsay Brewer, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, March 31, 2011
Dartmouth offered admission to 9.7 percent of applicants to the Class of 2015, accepting 2,178 applicants and marking a record-low for the College, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris said in an interview with The Dartmouth. The College accepted 11.7 percent of applicants for the Class of 2014.
Students of color — who Laskaris said are defined on the application as “U.S. citizens or permanent residents who self-identify as African American, Asian American, Latino, Native American or multiracial” — comprise 44 percent of students admitted to the Class of 2015, compared to 43.5 percent of admitted students last year, she said.
Dartmouth experienced particular growth among the percentage of admitted Asian American and Latino students, according to Laskaris. She attributed the increase in minority acceptances to the College’s affiliation with Questbridge, an organization that assists talented low-income students with the college admissions process. Although a sizeable minority admittance rate is “certainly worth noting,” the number of minority students that chooses to matriculate is more important, according to David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
“Once the student has been admitted, there still remains the process of determining financial aid awards, understanding whether the student can afford the institution, whether there were other offers received,” Hawkins said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “The acceptance notices are an important indicator, but the enrollment ultimately tells the story of what the institutions has been able to do to overcome the barriers of enrollment.”
Of admitted applicants, 16 percent are from New England, 25 percent are from the mid-Atlantic states, 12 percent are from the Midwest, 19 percent are from the South and 21 percent are from the West Coast. International students comprise 7 percent of admitted students, according to Laskaris.
First-generation college students comprise 11 percent of the admitted class, a figure that is “a bit higher” than in the past two years, Laskaris said.
The College accepted 186 legacy applicants — or 8.5 percent of admitted students — this year, a slightly lower percentage than in previous years, she said.
“It was more selective for all parts of our applicant pool,” Laskaris said.
Financial aid numbers will also increase for the incoming class, as the College will raise its undergraduate financial aid budget from $77 million to $80 million — a record high, according to a College press release.
In February 2010, the College eliminated its no-loan guarantee policy. Financial aid packages for families with annual incomes above $75,000 now include loans, The Dartmouth previously reported.
The strength of the applicant pool and changes to the College’s financial aid plans may lead to a slight decrease in the yield, or number of students who accept the College’s offer of admission, according to Laskaris.
The College has a wait list of 1,984 applicants, which represents approximately 10 percent of the applicant pool, as in previous years, Laskaris said.
The mean SAT score of students admitted to the Class of 2015 is 734 for Critical Reading, 740 for Math and 744 for Writing — representing only small changes from last year, Laskaris said.
“We attract a very highly accomplished and high–achieving group of applicants,” she said. “Our challenge will be to yield them because I think they’ll be a highly sought-after group.”
The Admissions Office will host an “all-day chat marathon,” titled “chat-apalooza,” to connect admitted students with the Dartmouth community and answer students’ questions on April 2, Laskaris said.
“We’re working hard to top our efforts from last year,” she said. “These students will really have many great offers to choose from, so we really want to make sure they see all of the possibilities of the Dartmouth education.”
The College’s decreased admittance rate reflects a widespread trend in admissions at highly selective institutions, such as Harvard University, Princeton University and Yale University, according to Hawkins.
“If you look at other Ivy League schools, the peer institutions, the trend is familiar and the actual numeric rate itself is comparable to several of the other institutions such as Harvard and Yale and Princeton,” Hawkins said.
The increase in the number of applications over the past five to 10 years has contributed to both the decline in acceptance rates and the “unpredictability in yield,” Hawkins said.
“Even though one, in the past, would have expected yield rates to improve as you get more applications, I would not be surprised if the yield rate even declined at an institution that one would normally think would have a relatively stable or predictable yield,” he said.
As the College experiences an increase in selectivity, admissions officers continue to recruit a diverse set of applicants, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, Laskaris said. “Even though we’re watching our selectivity increase, we continue to keep at the foreground of our thinking the overarching values that drive this process for us,” Laskaris said. “We think about how we recruit students and make sure we have the right kinds of students in our pool so we can make good selections.”
Low acceptance rates and the notion that gaining admittance to certain schools is out of reach can discourage a large number of students from traditionally underrepresented groups from applying, Hawkins said.
“When fewer than one in 10 can even get in the door at these institutions, I think that there are valid questions raised about whether and how [these institutions] are serving the public good and how accessible they are to the broad range of qualified students in this country,” he said.
Peer institution also announced their regular decision statistics on Tuesday.
Princeton admitted 2,282 students — 8.39 percent of its applicants — according to its website. The university’s admission rate was 8.8 percent for the class of 2014.
Yale’s admittance rate dropped from 7.5 percent for the Class of 2014 to 7.35 percent for the class of 2015, according to the Yale Daily News.
The University of Pennsylvania accepted 12.3 percent of overall applicants for the Class of 2015 compared to 11.4 percent last year, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported.
Columbia University’s Class of 2015 overall admittance rate is 6.9 percent for Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, according to the Columbia Spectator. The schools’ combined admittance rate was 9.2 percent last year. This year marked the first time Columbia accepted the Common Application, the Spectator reported.
Harvard accepted 6.2 percent of its 34,950 applicants — the largest applicant pool in the university’s history, according to the Harvard Gazette.
Brown University accepting 2,692 students, representing 8.7 percent of its 30,948-member applicant pool, according to its website.
The admission rates at Cornell University were unavailable by press time.
Representatives from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard and Penn declined to comment. Representatives from Princeton and Yale could not be reached for comment by press time.