Early decision applications rise 6.7 percent

by Claire Daly | 11/12/13 7:08pm

The College received 1,678 early decision applications for the Class of 2018 as of the Nov. 8 deadline, a 6.7 percent increase from last year, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid Maria Laskaris said.

Last year early applications for the Class of 2017 dropped 12.6 percent. A year before that, applicants for the Class of 2016 broke the trend of increasing early applications since the Class of 2014.

“Obviously, numbers do fluctuate,” Laskaris said. “Last year we were down after many years of increases, so if you look across at other schools’ data, some years they’re up, some years they’re not.”

The drop last year followed a year of intense national media attention on Greek life and hazing. Last year saw an overall 3 percent decrease in applicants, including regular decision numbers.

“It was not as dramatic a fluctuation as we saw in [early decision numbers alone],” Laskaris said. “However, we are glad to see the numbers rebounding.”

Josh Kotran, an early decision applicant to the Class of 2018, said last year’s decline in applications and corresponding increased acceptance rate did not affect his decision to apply early.

“I applied early to Dartmouth because of a combination of it being an Ivy League school with fun school spirit,” he said.

Julie Ball, a college counselor at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton, Calif., said about five students from Sacred Heart apply to Dartmouth each year and most take advantage of the early decision process.

The Common Application changed its requirements this year by eliminating the option to write a personal essay as well as enacting strict enforcement of a 650-word limit for the essay. The admissions office delayed its early application deadline after students and high school counselors reported technical trouble with the Common App, which was online-only for the first time.

PJ Petrone, a college counselor at the Marymount School in Los Angeles, said the changes in the Common App were stressful for his students due to “hype and fear regarding the technology side” of the application.

Kotran said several of his classmates found the Common App “glitchy” with the new changes. With the large number of deadlines for college applications in early November and the time sensitivity of the process, Kotran’s peers encountered repeated crashing of the Common App website.

Petrone said he found uploading recommendations and transcripts “quite sluggish.” Overall, he said that while there were difficulties with the changed site, there were no major issues that ultimately had a negative impact on students’ applications.

Despite the delayed submission deadline, the admissions office does not expect to postpone when applicants receive their decisions, most likely during the second week of December, Laskaris said.

Laskaris said this year’s early decision candidates generally hail from the Mid-Atlantic region, New England and the West.