College sees 10.4 percent admission rate despite decrease in applications

by Joyce Lee | 4/4/17 2:20am


The College saw its lowest acceptance rate since 2013 at 10.4 percent, but it received fewer applications than in previous years.

by Lauren Kim / The Dartmouth

Out of a pool of 20,034 applications, 2,092 students were offered admission to the Class of 2021 last week. The acceptance rate was 10.4 percent, the lowest since 2013.

Director of admissions Paul Sunde said that academically, the class’ ability is demonstrated in the numbers, but there are other parts of their candidacy that cannot be easily summarized in statistics.

These accepted students in the regular decision round will comprise about 53 percent of the Class of 2021, with the 555 accepted students from the early decision round comprising 47 percent. This high percentage of the class comprised of early decision students could raise yield rates, which reached a record high for the Class of 2018 at 54.5 percent and was 50.4 percent for the Class of 2019 and 53.1 percent for the Class of 2020.

Of accepted students attending high schools that rank GPA, 96 percent are expected to graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. Five hundred and forty-seven accepted students are valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school class, a record for the College and a 25 percent increase from the Class of 2020. Accepted students’ mean SAT score of 1495 increased 19 points over the Class of 2020, another record.

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“[The class is] extraordinarily talented academically, and also extraordinarily diverse, particularly in geographic diversity, socioeconomic diversity and cultural diversity, which is often linked with geography, of course,” Sunde said. “[There are] a lot of international students, which shows a big strength and diversity.”

The Class of 2021 will also have an all-time high percentage of international students, with 255 students from 63 foreign countries, a 38 percent increase from the accepted students in the Class of 2020.

This is the second year that international students were considered under a “need aware” policy, meaning that the financial need of international applicants was also taken into account. The admissions office had been need-blind for international students from the Class of 2012 through the Class of 2019. The College is need-blind for U.S. students.

“[International student numbers are] something we’ve been thinking about from a recruitment standpoint,” Sunde said. “We have been increasing our recruitment activities of students abroad, have seen that in the pool, and then with the selection process, and now with the admitted students.”

Sunde said that there is a robust representation of students who are getting scholarship aid, with almost half of the accepted foreign students being offered need-based financial aid.

Students of color from the U.S. represent 51 percent of accepted students, compared to 51.6 of accepted students from the Class of 2020, which was the most racially diverse class in the College’s history.

Of the accepted students, nine percent have one or more parents who were an undergraduate at Dartmouth while 15 percent are first-generation college students. Ten percent are recruited athletes, which is equivalent to last year’s percentage of recruited athletes in the Class of 2020.

The average need-based grant for this year’s accepted students is $46,237, with 63 percent of accepted students applying for need-based financial aid. The College expects to offer more than $27 million in scholarships for the Class of 2021.

The College’s application changed this year with the addition of new supplemental essay prompts that included, “‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’ is one of the most popular books by ‘Dr. Seuss,’ Dartmouth Class of 1925. Where do you hope to go? What aspects of Dartmouth’s curriculum or community might help you get there?” and “‘It’s not easy being green’ was a frequent lament of Kermit the Frog. Discuss.”

Sunde said that the essays invite more reflection on the part of the applicant and gives them the opportunity to share more with admissions, providing insights into candidates that they might not have gotten otherwise.

“When I applied to undergrad, I did have fun with the essay questions, but when I applied to graduate school, I thought, ‘They’re really making me think,’” he said. “I enjoyed that process of introspection that it led me to, and I feel like our essay questions are doing something similar with our applicants. They’re really making you think about Dartmouth, and what you value, why and what you’re going to do about that or what you have done about that.”

Claire Campbell, an accepted student from New Canaan, Connecticut, said that she thought that the supplements were fun to answer. She said that she answered the “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” and “Kermit the Frog” supplements by discussing her hope to get a psychology degree and go out into the world to help others. She also discussed how it is not easy to be different, but those differences make you an all-around better person.

Campbell said that compared to her high school, she hopes her experience at Dartmouth will be less stressful and she will be able to enjoy learning instead of considering it a chore.

Madison Hwang, an accepted student from Dallas, Texas, said that she was especially excited to be accepted because, as a student-athlete, she had an incident with another college that did not provide an offer in writing and switched their position on her acceptance.

“Having it in writing and signed by the dean gave me security and made me feel that I was going to college, and they couldn’t revoke anything,” Hwang said. “I had an emotional reaction of relief and happiness and felt like a weight was off my shoulders.”

Hwang hopes to pursue studies in the medical field and said that she was struck by the traditions at the College and the balance of academics and athletics. She was also interested in the flexible study plans and how there is not one road for students to pursue their academic interests.

“The biggest appeal was the people,” Hwang said. “I visited Columbia [University] before Dartmouth, and I knew how prestigious [Columbia] was and I had a high bar before visiting, but at Dartmouth, the people were so amazing and supportive, and had a genuine passion for the school and for each other.”

Hwang said she felt that she connected with the essay questions in the application because they meant a lot to her, were personal and seemed to help the admission officers see who she was through the prompts.

Sunde said that he thought this year’s candidates did well with the supplemental questions and that the change will continue next year. He said that the future classes will build on the qualities of the ’21s.

“We’re going to enroll this incredible class that will have a great introduction to Dartmouth when they get here, and they will tell their friends,” Sunde said.

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