Although some institutions, including Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, have reported a decrease in applications for the Class of 2016, Dartmouth admissions officers estimate a 3 to 3.5 percent increase this year, with a record 23,052 applications processed for early and regular decision applicants combined, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris.
The College intends to accept roughly 2,100 students — approximately 9 percent of applicants — making this “the most selective year we’ve had in terms of the admissions process,” Laskaris said.
The applicant pool has grown by approximately 25 percent in the past two years, according to Laskaris.
The College has already offered admission to 465 students in the early decision process. Laskaris said admissions officers were impressed by the “unusual strength” of the early decision pool this year, which led them to accept more students than they have in previous years, she said.
“By taking a few more in early, we recognized we would put pressure on the regular decision process,” Laskaris said.
Admissions officers have already started to consider methods, including alumni-sponsored events and Dimensions of Dartmouth, to compel regular decision students to accept Dartmouth’s offer of admission, she said.
The recent return to early action programs by both Harvard University and Princeton University eliminated a portion of Dartmouth’s regular applicant pool, as more students “have already made up their minds” and chosen other institutions, Laskaris said. The “modest growth” in applications was expected, she said.
Several peer institutions experienced dramatic changes in the number of applications they received this year.
The total number of applications to Columbia University decreased by 8.9 percent, following a record-breaking 33.4-percent increase in applications last year, Jessica Marinaccio, dean of undergraduate admissions at Columbia University, said in an email to The Dartmouth.
The University of Pennsylvania saw a 1.7-percent drop in overall applications, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian, while the number of applications to Yale University rose by 5.8 percent, according to the Yale Daily News.
Other Ivy League institutions have not yet published application numbers.
Stanford University application rates experienced a 7-percent increase, according to The Stanford Daily. Duke University saw a 6-percent increase in applicants, while Northwestern University saw a 3.5-percent increase, according to the institutions’ student newspapers.
The demographics of Dartmouth’s Class of 2016 will likely be “comparable” to the Class of 2015, Laskaris said.
“It won’t be significantly different from what we saw last year,” she said.
The average composite SAT score of the Class of 2016 is 2080, reflecting a slight increase over last year’s composite of 2068, Laskaris said in an email to The Dartmouth.
Trends among applicants for the Class of 2016 include attendance at virtual schools and participation in online courses, according to Laskaris. Students’ tendency to take classes supplementing their high school curricula may present a new challenge for admissions officers, especially “when it comes to evaluating letters of recommendations from teachers that students haven’t physically met in a classroom,” she said.
The number of students applying for financial aid — which has amounted to approximately two-thirds of applicants in the past — is expected to remain consistent or grow slightly this year, according to Laskaris. The deadline to apply for financial aid is Feb. 1.
To reduce the stress students may be experiencing, the Admissions Office plans to continue its tradition of sending likely letters to “stand-out students,” Laskaris said.
The first batch of “likely letters” will be sent in early February and will give applicants a clear indication that they will likely be admitted if they continue performing at the same level, she said.
“There are some students whose files immediately rise to the top in terms of academic and personal achievements and who strike us as exactly the kind of students we’d like to see at Dartmouth,” she said.
Applicants will receive official notification of their admissions decisions online at around 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on March 29, according to Laskaris.