Class of 2016 includes diverse student body
By Lindsay Ellis, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, April 2, 2012
Kevin Cheng, of Bethesda, Md., didn’t have to tell his parents he was accepted regular decision to Dartmouth.
“They heard it — definitely — when I saw online,” Cheng, who is deciding between Dartmouth, Williams College, the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University, said.
Cheng was one of 1,715 students who were notified of their acceptance to the College’s Class of 2016 on Thursday when Dartmouth released its admissions decisions online.
The Admissions Office accepted a total of 2,180 high school seniors in both early and regular decisions and aims to fill a class of between 1,100 and 1,110 students, according to a Thursday press release. The College’s total acceptance rate fell to a record-low 9.4 percent.
The percentage of admitted students of color also rose to 46.2 percent, marking a 2.2 percent increase from last year. The percentage of admitted international students increased from 7.0 percent last year to 9.3 percent, according to the press release.
Colleges and universities now seek to “become diverse” in as many ways as possible, according to Lisa Sohmer, a high school guidance counselor at the Garden School in Jackson Heights, N.Y.
“In an increasingly global, international population, students are coming from places they haven’t come from before,” Sohmer said.
This trend has increased competition among non-legacy applicants from American high schools, she said.
“Every student fills a seat that can’t be filled in another way,” she said. “The competition for seats from American high schools becomes more intense.”
Colleges nationwide also consider finances when admitting international students, John Boshoven, a guidance counselor at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., said.
“International student outreach could mean they’re seeking more full-pay students who will pay the whole bounty,” Boshoven said.
The College’s admissions practices, however, are need-blind for all applicants, according to the Admissions Office’s website.
Dartmouth’s admissions rate of 9.4 percent was the fifth lowest in the Ivy League.
Harvard University, Yale University and Columbia University had the three lowest admissions rates, accepting 5.9 percent, 6.8 percent and 7.4 percent of their applicants, respectively.
Institutions’ increased outreach and students’ willingness to apply to more schools have caused more competitive admissions to top universities, Boshoven said.
“They’re increasing the outreach to keep more and more kids applying — they don’t have any more seats,” Boshoven said. “[Applying to a college] is kind of like buying the lottery ticket: ‘What the heck, why not try?’”
The ease of the Common Application also contributes to lower acceptance rates, Sohmer said.
“When everybody applies to a couple more schools, the pool gets that much bigger and that much tougher,” she said.
Tim Harrison, a high school senior from Staten Island, N.Y. who was accepted to Dartmouth, said he was aware of this competition when applying to Dartmouth.
“My family and I knew statistics, knew the unlikely nature of getting an acceptance letter,” Harrison said. “When I opened my letter online and saw the first word — ‘Congratulations’ — I was blessed to be considered among such a talented group of people.”
The Admissions Office hosted Chatapalooza, a day-long question-and-answer video program for admitted students, on Saturday.
The Dartmouth Direct blog and other online materials have swayed Cheng’s opinion toward Dartmouth, he said. Through these materials, Cheng learned of Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips, which appeal to him because he is “sort of outdoorsy,” he said.
Cheng’s friends’ first reaction when he tells them of his acceptance, however, has been to mention the recent media focus on hazing at the College.
Cheng did not regard Rolling Stone’s recent piece, “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy,” as “too negative” about Dartmouth because he considered the author’s potential biases., he said.
Sohmer said students and families do not generally let those types of articles change their perception of a school.
“So often at this time of year things go wrong on campuses,” she said. “I think students who want to go to Dartmouth want to go to Dartmouth.”
Harrison said the piece did not alter his opinion of the College.
“I think it’s comforting to know there is a lively debate going on at Dartmouth,” he said. “I like that people aren’t afraid to express opinions. This is an aspect you want in a college.”
The amount of financial aid students receive remains a large factor in students’ decisions, Sohmer and Boshoven said.
“Students at all ranges of the financial spectrum are looking at what it means to have different financial packages,” Sohmer said. “These are big considerations right now, particularly in our current economy.”
Dartmouth will match any need-based financial aid awards from other Ivy League schools, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris ’84 said in the release.
“As always, we are committed to working with families to help keep Dartmouth affordable and accessible for students,” she said. “We want students to base their matriculation decision on what is the right ‘fit’ for them, in terms of their academic and extracurricular aspirations, and not on the small differences in financial aid they receive.”