Dartmouth has tallied 1,785 early decision applications so far for the Class of 2015 — a record high and a 12 percent increase from last year, according to Dean of Admissions Maria Laskaris. As the Admissions Office continues to sort through the remaining early decision applications, Laskaris said she expects to have received close to 1,800 in total.
There were 1,594 early decision applicants for the Class of 2014.
Laskaris said she attributes the record high number of applicants to the stronger outreach program that employed social media and print publications as well as the help of current students. In addition to outreach, Laskaris noted that more students visited campus this year than last year.
The U.S. News and World Report ranking that placed Dartmouth first in undergraduate teaching may also be responsible for increased interest in the College, Laskaris said.
“I think the fact that Dartmouth has been highlighted twice in a row now for the quality of undergraduate teaching is a really important factor for many students as they are thinking about the quality of the undergraduate experience and wanting to be in an institution that really values teaching as well as research, but has the breadth of opportunities that Dartmouth has,” Laskaris said.
The College also moved up two places in the U.S. News and World Report ranking for national universities, from 11th to ninth place.
The larger applicant pool reflects a nationwide trend of increased preference for the early application process, Laskaris said.
“Students are thinking more about an early option,” she said. “There may be students who are ready to make that decision if they have a clear first choice and because our financial aid will be the same whether you apply early or regular, they may decide to submit that early application.”
Because the Admissions Office is currently processing materials, it does not yet have statistics on SAT scores and grade point averages, though Laskaris said she expects the applicant pool to be a strong group in terms of both tangible and intangible academic credentials.
“From the anecdotal information from the files that I’ve seen so far, they are presenting academic records in terms of performance in class as well as standardized testing that are comparable if not stronger than last year,” Laskaris said.
The office has not yet finalized statistics on race, but Laskaris said the overall diversity of the early decision pool is on par with the diversity of the applicant pools in prior years.
“We are seeing a few more students this year from the New England and mid-Atlantic states in our early pool, as well as the South and the West,” she said. “Particularly the South and the West have been growth areas for the applicant pool over the past few years, so it’s a geographically diverse applicant pool.”
Last year, Dartmouth accepted a larger number of early decision applicants — 461 students — than in the previous year, after discussions about increasing class size to generate additional revenue, The Dartmouth previously reported. The Admissions Office accepted 2,165 students from a record 18,778-person applicant pool for the Class of 2014 with 1,138 students accepting the offer.
Laskaris said that the size of the Class of 2015 will most likely fall in the traditional range of 1,090 to 1,100 students and typically early decision applicants make up 35 to 40 percent of the class. Laskaris said she expects that the Class of 2015 will include approximately 400 early decision applicants.
“The desire to add more students last year was in part due to the budget process,” Laskaris said. “This year, however, our goal is really to come in with a class that’s more along the normal lines of our typical class size and to admit the strongest of our Early Decision pool but also saving enough places for what we know will be a strong and talented Regular Decision pool as well.”
The deadline for regular decision applications is Jan. 1.