Verbum Ultimum: Symptoms of Deeper Problems

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 3/28/13 11:00pm

Yesterday evening, Dartmouth and its Ivy League peers released admissions decisions for the Class of 2017. Not only did Dartmouth have fewer applicants this year than last year, but the admission rate increased to 10 percent from 9.4 ("College admits 10 percent of applicants to Class of 2017," Mar. 29). Dartmouth is the only Ivy to increase its acceptance rate and, with the exception of Princeton University, the only one to see fewer applicants. While this development is unfortunate, it was nonetheless entirely predictable.

This year's numbers look especially poor in comparison to those of our Ivy League peers, who admitted an average of 9.7 percent of applicants for the Class of 2015 and 9 percent of applicants for the Class of 2017. Dartmouth's acceptance rates were 9.7 and 10 percent for the Classes of 2015 and 2017, respectively. While the acceptance rates for the other seven Ivies have decreased by more than 7 percent over the last two years, Dartmouth's acceptance rate has increased by 3 percent.

These admissions trends seem to imply that events over the last two years have negatively impacted the number of students interested in attending Dartmouth. The College admitted more students while expecting the size of the incoming class to remain roughly constant. From 2010 to 2012, Dartmouth's yield decreased to 49.5 percent from 55 percent. Put differently, students who are admitted to both Dartmouth and other institutions are increasingly likely to chose to attend the latter.

We can attribute Dartmouth's change in applicants, acceptance and yield in part to two oft-maligned student life issues: tuition and the Greek system. Neither the College's exorbitant price tag nor the perceived flaws in our social climate appeal to prospective students who have also been accepted to less costly peer institutions with less publicized social flaws. While we do not wish to denigrate the College and understand that these problems do not have simple solutions, the admissions data merely underscores that these are two areas where the administration needs to make significant changes. The cost of a Dartmouth education cannot continue to rise at its current pace, and the administration must take a stand on Greek life.

Dartmouth undoubtedly offers many great opportunities to students. The overall quality of a Dartmouth education is most certainly not in decline we remain the country's top-rated institution for undergraduate instruction, according to U.S. News and World Report. Nonetheless, the undergraduate student experience at Dartmouth has suffered over the last few years as problems related to skyrocketing tuition and the Greek system persist.