Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dartmouth's Early Decision Pool Rises to 1,800 for Class of 2016

The College received 1,800 early decision applications for the Class of 2016, setting a new record and marking a nearly 3-percent increase from last year, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris said in an interview with The Dartmouth. The number already exceeds the 1,785 early decision applications submitted for the Class of 2015, but is expected to increase as several additional applications, in particular those sent by mail from international students, “trickle in” over the next few days, Laskaris said.
While the number of applications received represents a 3-percent increase from last year’s statistics, the Class of 2015 early decision applications marked a record-setting 12-percent rise from the previous year. This year’s increase in early applications “feels more in line with what we typically see,” Laskaris said.
An increased number of recruited athletes applied early decision this year, Laskaris said. While she did not have the exact number for the Class of 2016, Laskaris said the increase can be attributed to the fact that “more and more of the athletic recruitment process happens at the early decision time.”
Laskaris said that while it is still too early to have a clear picture of the geographic and ethnic makeup of the application pool, she expects the diversity of admitted students to be “similar” to that of previous years.
Over the past five years, the early decision applicant pool has grown by 40 percent, according to Laskaris. Recruitment strategy has also evolved to reflect the College’s mission to attract a diverse and academically strong student body, Laskaris said.
“Our entire recruitment plan is based on two kinds of principles,” Laskaris said. “One, the academic quality of our student body, and two, the diversity of the student body. As we think about our recruitment efforts and travels, our core message has to do with our commitment to affordability and accessibility and how financial aid works.”
The number of prospective students’ visits to Dartmouth and admission officers’ travel trips have both increased this year, and the College has also increased its online presence, Laskaris said.
“We’re doing a lot more with social media,” said Laskaris. “Students are meeting us in those ways and taking advantage of video chats.”
The College has accepted an average of 425 students through early decision over the last four years, according to the Undergraduate Admission website. While the Admissions Office will begin the reading process with that number in mind, the number of admitted students could change depending on “the quality of the pool itself” once the reading process is completed, Laskaris said.
As with previous years, students admitted under the early decision program will make up roughly 38 percent of the incoming class, according to Laskaris.
Due to a late October storm that knocked out power throughout the Northeast, Dartmouth became one of many institutions nationwide to postpone its early application deadline, extending the Nov. 1 deadline to Nov. 7. Laskaris said the storm occurred at an inopportune time, and the College did not “want to penalize students in any way.”
The Admissions Office is still compiling all applications and does not know the number of students who took advantage of the extended deadline, Laskaris said.
Harvard University and Princeton University’s decisions to reinstate their early action programs this year may decrease Dartmouth’s regular decision numbers, according to Laskaris.
“One of the things we may see across the range of schools is that as students are able to apply early action to these schools, they may decide to not submit additional applications,” Laskaris said.
Laskaris cited the College’s welcoming community, the strength of the financial aid program and its known reputation for excellence in undergraduate teaching as factors contributing to the increase in applications.
“We are certainly one of the few schools that is fully need blind in our entire admissions process,” Laskaris said. “We are meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need, and those are things that set us apart.”
Despite Dartmouth’s termination of its no-loan policy for students whose annual family income exceeds $75,000 in 2010, the policy remains in place for families below the cut-off. The decision to change the parameters of the no-loan policy was part of the College’s effort to mitigate its budget shortfall following the economic crisis in 2008.
Despite a poor economy, Laskaris believes that Dartmouth will continue to attract students due to need-blind financial aid policy and strong academic record.
“Dartmouth is in such a strong position with such a strong reputation nationally and internationally,” Laskaris said.
Princeton received 3,547 applications and Harvard will release their numbers early next week, The New York Times reported. Brown University received over 2,900 applications, representing a 4-percent increase from last year, The Brown Daily Herald reported.
A representative from the University of Pennsylvania said in an interview with The Dartmouth that the university will publish its application numbers early next week.
Yale University, Cornell University and Columbia University had not released their admission statistics by press time.

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