From The Dartmouth 4-1-09: TheDartmouth.com | Acceptance rate hits record low
Dartmouth accepted a record low 12 percent of applicants for the Class of 2013, down from 13.5 percent last year, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris ‘84. The College received a record 18,130 applications, an increase of 10 percent over last year. Nearly half of the admitted students qualify for financial aid, a 14-percent increase as compared with aid requests for students admitted to the Class of 2012.
The Admissions Office posted regular decision application decisions online at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.
While all of the Ivy League schools received more applications this year, according to The New York Times, several small liberal arts colleges have seen applications drop. Williams College received 20 percent fewer applications this year as compared with last year, according to Jim Kolesar, Williams’ director of public affairs.
Ivy League schools’ strong and widely known financial aid programs may explain their continued success in attracting applicants, Laskaris said.
“I think it goes back to the strength of our financial aid programs and the awareness of our financial aid programs,” Laskaris said. “Concern about the amount of financial aid that smaller schools could provide versus the amount of financial aid that Dartmouth and its Ivy peers could provide may have been some of the reason for [decrease in admissions numbers at liberal arts colleges].”
Dartmouth’s new financial aid initiative, announced in January 2008, includes need-blind admissions for international student and eliminates tuition for students whose families earn less than $75,000 a year.
Dartmouth saw a 14-percent increase in the number of admitted students who qualify for financial aid this year, and the College will devote $72 million to financial aid next year, a 13-percent increase. Approximately 55 percent of the Class of 2013 will likely receive financial aid, Laskaris said.
The current economic crisis was likely a significant factor in increasing the number of admitted students eligible for financial aid, Laskaris said, adding that the admissions office has also worked to reach out to students from lower income backgrounds.
Despite the economic downturn, Dartmouth maintained its need-blind admissions policy for both American and international students, Laskaris said.
“It really speaks to the strength of the commitment to meeting the full need for all admitted students and really having a need-blind process,” Laskaris said. “Without need-blind admissions, it would be difficult to have as strong and diverse a community as we have.”
The Class of 2013 is the most diverse group of students to be admitted to the College, with 45 percent of the accepted students identifying as persons of color, Laskaris said. The Admissions Office seeks to encourage diversity at the College by portraying “Dartmouth as it is today,” she added.
“I think many people have an image of Dartmouth that is quite a bit out of date and don’t appreciate just how diverse a community we are,” Laskaris said.
Laskaris cited several factors that may have “raised Dartmouth’s visibility” for prospective students, including the College’s commitment to its financial aid program.
Several aspects of the Dartmouth experience, including study abroad programs and the Dartmouth plan, are not available at many other schools, Laskaris said.
“I think Dartmouth offers a lot of unique opportunities that are attractive to students,” she said.
Christopher Zhao ‘13, who was admitted through the early decision program for the Class of 2013, said that the D-Plan, Dartmouth’s small size and its undergraduate focus were major factors in his decision.
Zhao said he did not apply for financial aid, but will likely apply for aid in the future because his father recently lost his job.
The admissions office hopes to fill approximately 1,090 spots in the Class of 2013, including the 401 students who were admitted to the College early on Dec. 10.
To encourage students to choose Dartmouth, current students will call admitted students this week in a phone-a-thon, Laskaris said. College President-elect Jim Yong Kim has said he will reach out to about 50 admitted students who have indicated an interest in medicine and global health, and will travel to Hanover to meet admitted students during Dimensions weekend, according to Laskaris.
“He said to me that he saw his role as being the chief advocacy officer for Dartmouth,” Laskaris said. “He’s very excited about welcoming the Class of 2013. It’s his first class and his first year, so I think in many ways he will be a new member of our community just like they are new members.”
The Admissions Office determines how many students to admit by examining previous yield numbers and factors specific to a particular year, Laskaris said. The College’s admissions yield may increase this year, she said, because the economic crisis may make Dartmouth’s financial aid program a significant factor in students’ decisions and discourage students from taking a “gap year” between high school and college.
“Since jobs are harder to come by for everybody, I wonder if we might see fewer students who decide to take a year off,” she said.
Fourteen percent of admitted students are first generation college students, and 165 students are legacies. The College admitted 185 international students from 59 countries. The number of admitted men and women was roughly equal, at 1,091 and 1,093, respectively. Average SAT scores increased slightly, and 42 percent of students from high schools that release class rank were ranked first in their class, up from 37 percent last year, Laskaris said.
All other Ivy League institutions reported record-low admissions rates except for the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, according to media reports.