'Busiest year ever' for Early Decision apps. flood 41

by Erin Jaeger | 11/15/07 3:43am

Correction appended.

Early Decision applications to the College rose by 8.7 percent over last year, marking for what Dartmouth's top admissions officer called "the busiest year ever."

The Office of Admissions received Early Decision applications from 1,428 high school students across the country and the globe -- an increase of 8.7 percent over last year and the largest number of early applications ever, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris said. The applicants included 686 men and 710 women.

Especially notable, Laskaris said, was the sharp increase in applications from outside the United States; 169 international students applied early this year, 36 percent higher than last year's 124. She attributed this increase to strong summer and fall outreach programs by admissions officers.

"We saw a record number of visitors to campus this season," Laskaris said. "I think that students are aware of the strength of teaching and of the opportunities here for undergraduates. There's a general sense that Dartmouth is a great school, and a lot of students are ready to make that commitment."

In fact, the Office of Admissions had to discontinue on-campus interviews for prospective students because of the increase in campus visits.

"We simply weren't able to meet the demand for on-campus interviews," Laskaris said.

Instead, the Office of Admissions has created new student forums in which prospective students are able to meet in small groups with two current Dartmouth undergraduates on campus. Admissions officers and parents are not permitted to participate in the forums, allowing students to ask candid questions about academics, extracurriculars and student life at Dartmouth, Laskaris said. All applicants are also offered an interview with a Dartmouth alumnus in their area.

Laskaris said that this process allows prospective students to discuss Dartmouth with current undergraduates in a less formal setting than an interview, while still offering the Office of Admissions a personal, face-to-face supplement to their applications through the alumni interviews. The student forums are not evaluative, Laskaris said.

This year also marks the first time that the Office of Admissions will read applications entirely online. About 85 percent of Early Decision applicants filed the student portion of their application online, Laskaris said. The Admissions Office plans to scan all other elements of the application, including teacher and peer evaluations, secondary school reports, Early Decision agreements and optional arts and athletic supplements, to streamline the process of reading applications.

The Admissions Office will also continue its program of asking current freshmen to recommend one or two of their outstanding teachers from high school. The College sends a note of thanks to these teachers for the work they put into writing recommendations for applicants.

"We wanted to thank the high school teachers who provided a great deal of insight into their students' applications to Dartmouth through their recommendations," Laskaris said.

Along with the note of thanks, the Admissions Office also includes information about Dartmouth specific to each teacher's field.

"We've heard back from a number of teachers who were touched to be thanked by us," Laskaris said. "It's a great process."

This admissions season marks Laskaris' first as dean of admissions and financial aid. She succeeded Karl Furstenburg, who held the position for 17 years, in July. Laskaris has worked in the Office of Admissions since 1987 and had served as director of admissions since 1996."I've been in the office for twenty years, so I feel comfortable with the process of admissions, and I'm honored to lead my colleagues in the process," Laskaris said. "It's been a very busy four months. Reading applications is the most grueling part of the work for us, but I'm excited to select the next class at Dartmouth. It's the heart of what we do."

The Admissions Office plans to release admissions decisions and financial aid awards to Early Decision applicants in mid-December. Regular decision applications for the Class of 2012 are due on Jan. 1.

The original version of this article stated that 1,397 people applied early for the Class of 2012. In fact, 1,428 people applied early.