The College offered admission to the Class of 2019 to 2,120 students yesterday for an overall acceptance rate of 10.3 percent, down from last year’s 11.5 percent acceptance rate, the College announced. Dean of admissions and financial aid Maria Laskaris said that, in terms of the percentage breakdown, this year’s pool of accepted students constitutes the most diverse group of students in College history.
The acceptance rate is the second highest in the Ivy League, lower only than Cornell University, which accepted 14.9 percent of students. Brown University admitted 8.49 percent of applicants, Columbia University admitted 6.1 percent, Princeton University admitted 6.99 percent, the University of Pennsylvania admitted 9.9 percent and Yale University admitted 6.49 percent.
Harvard University has not yet published its regular decision numbers, but The Harvard Crimson reported in February that the University had received an all-time high number of 37,305 applications.
The overall applicant pool increased by more than six percent from last year to 20,504 applicants, following a 14 percent decrease from the year before.
Laskaris said because last year’s class had a larger yield rate then expected, the College admitted 100 fewer students this year than were admitted to the Class of 2018.
The decision to decrease the total number of admitted students came because the admissions office did not want to find themselves in the position of having a “supersized” freshman class again, Laskaris said.
Laskaris said that while she is “obviously thrilled” with the pool of students that was accepted, the combination of a higher number of applications and the decision to admit 100 fewer students “added pressure” and made for a “grueling selection process.”
Laskaris emphasized that the process was difficult not only from a numerical perspective, but also because the vast majority of the students who applied had adequate academic preparation to enroll and could have both benefitted from and contributed to the on-campus community.
When marketing the College to prospective students, Laskaris said the admissions office is trying to ensure that bright, talented students from a diverse set of backgrounds understand the College’s distinctive characteristics and opportunities.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time talking about the core of the work here and thinking about all the students who might be a good fit here and how to share with them those special distinguishing features,” Laskaris said.
One key change in the admissions process this year was the addition of a supplemental essay prompt where students could choose to answer one of five essay options, Laskaris said.
She said the purpose of the prompt was to give “added nuance and texture” to the application so the admissions team could “get to know the students a little bit better.”
Examples of these supplemental prompts include describing the meaning and history of one’s name or sharing an meaningful, intellectual experience.
The new supplement was successful, Laskaris said, as the admissions office was able to use the supplement to help “make some of the nuanced and difficult decisions.”
In terms of the makeup of the admitted class, 60.9 percent of the total admitted students attend public schools, 27.2 percent attend private schools and 11.9 percent attend parochial schools, according to Laskaris.
The overall regional breakdown is 13.1 percent from New England, 22.8 percent from the Mid-Atlantic, 19.3 percent from the South, 9.3 percent from the Midwest and 26.9 percent from West, as well as 8.5 percent international students.
Students of color comprise 49.8 percent of admitted students, international students and legacies make up 7.9 percent each and first-generation college students comprise 14.9 percent.
Of those ranked, 38.4 percent of students admitted were valedictorians of their class, 10.1 percent were salutatorians and 94.9 percent were in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, according to Laskaris. The mean SAT score was 2216 and the mean ACT score was 32.8.
Forty-six percent of accepted students are eligible to receive need-based financial aid, with 14 percent being Pell Grant recipients. The average scholarship amount is $44,142.
In December, the College admitted 483 early decision applicants to the Class of 2019, or about 26 percent of the 1,859-person applicant pool, which was the largest in College history.
College consultant John Merrill said that a potential reason for the increase in the number of applications could be due to a possible false perception that it would be easier to gain admission the College to than other Ivy League schools because of the 14 percent application drop last year.
Merrill added that he would have thought that the recent media attention surrounding Dartmouth would have affected application numbers more than it did.
As a college counselor, Merrill said that he makes sure his clients know current issues with the colleges to which they are applying.
In regards to Dartmouth specifically, Merrill said he would mention to his clients that College President Phil Hanlon is addressing on-campus issues through his “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan. Merrill added that he supports the proposed reforms.
Merrill emphasized that his thoughts on what caused a rise in application numbers are subjective, as it is difficult to explain exactly what could have caused an increase.
Laskaris anticipates that prospective students and their families will want to know more information about “Moving Dartmouth Forward,”and the admissions office plans to share this information in more detail during Dimensions of Dartmouth — a series of weekends when accepted students are invited to campus.
One aspect of “Moving Dartmouth Forward” that Laskaris said she is particularly excited to talk about is the work being done to prepare the residential communities that the Class of 2019 will pilot, and that she thinks there is a lot of excitement about the new system.
Regarding issues affecting campus today, Laskaris said that the admissions office aims to be “open and transparent” about the work being done to address high-risk behaviors, student safety and sexual assault.
Laskaris said she thinks that students and parents are concerned about these issues regardless of where they are applying. She thinks that the College has taken “tangible, good steps” to address these issues, and that is something that “parents and students are really interested in knowing.”
Sam Reed, a prospective student accepted yesterday from Falmouth, Maine, said that having good friends at the College influenced his decision to apply.
In addition, Reid said he noticed that alumni frequently wear College apparel.
“That showed me how proud they were to have gone there and how good of a place it must be,” Reid said.
Matt Norris, another prospective student accepted yesterday from Bangor, Maine, said that a friend in the Class of 2018 inspired him to apply.
“I saw her journey through freshman year, the opportunities she was presented, all of the things she got to do and the classes she got to take,” Norris said. He added that the international nature of the school and the vitality and diversity of the student body also encouraged him to apply.
Norris, who is deciding between several colleges, said that he jumped up, flailed his arms and screamed when he found out that he was accepted.
“My heart is still racing whenever I think about it,” he said.