With 1,229 students, Class of 2025 largest in Dartmouth’s history

The freshman class includes 160 students who were admitted last year but deferred enrollment by a year.

by Daniel Modesto | 9/23/21 5:10am

9-23-21-matriculationsigning-carolinekramer
by Caroline Kramer / The Dartmouth

The Class of 2025 that matriculated on Sept. 12 has earned an unusual distinction: by twelve students, it surpassed the oversized Class of 2021 as the largest class in Dartmouth’s history. The size of this year’s class — which includes a substantial number of gap year students originally admitted as part of the Class of 2024 — comes along with a higher than usual number of students opting to be on campus this fall. These two factors have created a one-two punch that has worsened the on-campus housing shortage and prompted professors to take more students into their classes compared to previous years.

Vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid Lee Coffin wrote in an emailed statement that 1,229 students enrolled in the Class of 2025; of those 1,229 students, 160 students were accepted into the Class of 2024 but chose to take a gap year. In addition, Coffin wrote that enrollment for the Class of 2024 was 1,058 students and that enrollment for the Class of 2021 was 1,217.

According to the Office of Institutional Research, the Class of 2023 has 1,193 students and the Class of 2022 has 1,169 students. Classes graduating between 2004 and 2020 all fell between around 1,050 and 1,150 students each. 

Dartmouth has historically been the smallest Ivy League university. However, in 2017, the College announced that it was considering increasing the undergraduate student body by between 10–25%. At the time, College President Phil Hanlon said that a larger undergraduate body would “amplify [Dartmouth’s] impact on the world.”

Coffin said in an interview that the College decided to not increase the size of the undergraduate student body in the end. Coffin also noted the large size of the Class of 2025 should be put in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, since a substantial number of first-year students — who were originally accepted in the Class of 2024 — took a gap year as a result of the pandemic.

“The intent wasn’t to enroll a larger class, the intent was to honor the deferral of the ’24s, while also keeping Dartmouth open to students who graduated high school last year,” Coffin said.

Coffin said that he sees the Classes of 2024 and 2025 as “almost twin classes” due to the pandemic, and that when adding their class numbers together, they are actually “under-enrolled” in that the sum of two classes does not exceed the sum of two classes of average class size.

Prior to this year, the Class of 2021 was the largest class to enroll. According to Coffin, the higher-than-average enrollment of the Class of 2021 was a matter of class yield increasing dramatically — something that he said “happens once in a while.” 

The Class of 2021’s yield rate — the proportion of students who accepted their offers of admission — was 58%, significantly higher than yield rates for the Classes of 2004 through 2020, which never exceeded 52%. The Classes of 2022, 2023 and 2024 saw yield rates of 61%, 64% and 54%, respectively. 

The large size of the Class of 2025 has highlighted the lack of sufficient on-campus student housing, with some upperclassmen left on a waitlist for months over the summer. Coffin said that although campus may feel “overcrowded,” the close quarters are partly a result of a high proportion of students opting to be on campus in the fall, especially upperclassmen and international students who took the prior year off “for very valid reasons.” He added the reduced number of study abroads this term created an enrollment pattern “that we haven’t experienced before.”

The Class of 2025’s large student body has led some professors to enroll more students in their courses than in previous years. Jewish studies professor Irene Kacandes, who is teaching GERM 15, “Nazis, Neonazis, Antifa and the Others: Exploring Responses to the Nazi Past,” said that her class was originally capped at 50 students, but she added 20 students to accomodate first-year students interested in the course. 

Native American and Indigenous studies department chair Bruce Duthu ’80, who teaches NAS 25, “Indian Country Today,” said that in previous years, his class was around 50 to 70 students, but that this year saw 89 students enroll, forcing his class to move from Moore Hall to Carpenter Hall. 

Duthu said that the spike in enrollment for his class could be due to word of mouth, noting that he spoke to the Class of 2025 during Orientation. He added he appreciates that many first-years are taking his class, especially since it is a “gateway and introduction to Native studies.”

“I think it’s great that [the first-year students] will make the time to take my class, and that one of the 36 courses they take will be an [NAIS] course as well,” he said.

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