How to Get Into Dartmouth: Admissions Data and Strategies
As with any Ivy League school, every successful Dartmouth applicant possesses a glowing transcript, standardized test scores above the 95th percentile (usually higher), and brag-worthy talents that extend outside of the classroom.
The intent of this article is to give those considering applying to Dartmouth College:
1) An understanding of what you are up against.
2) More data on which to accurately assess your chances of admission.
3) Advice for how to get your application to Dartmouth stand out, even against other superb applicants.
To accomplish these goals we will touch on the following topics:
- Dartmouth’s Class of 2024 ED acceptance rate
- Dartmouth’s Class of 2023 acceptance rate
- SAT, GPA, and class rank of accepted Dartmouth applicants
- Admissions trends from the Class of 2023
- Why being “well-rounded” won’t help you get into Dartmouth.
- How Dartmouth evaluates applicants
- A look at the demographics of Dartmouth undergraduates
- The percent of accepted students that attend the college (yield rate)
- Tips for applying to Dartmouth
- How to assess whether applying to Dartmouth is even worth the $80 application fee (for you)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
Dartmouth: Early Decision Acceptance Rate – Class of 2024
Of the 2,069 early decision applications received in the 2019-20 admissions cycle, Dartmouth accepted 547 students into the Class of 2024. This computes to a 26.4% acceptance rate. The 547 students welcomed aboard via ED are expected to comprise 46% of the entering freshman class. There were actually more ED applicants to Dartmouth the previous year when 2,474 applications applied; 22.1% were accepted.
Dartmouth Acceptance Rate – Class of 2023
There were 23,650 applications submitted for a place in the 2019-20 freshman class, the greatest number in school history. For perspective, Dartmouth received just over 16,500 applications for a spot in the Class of 2012. The Class of 2023 saw an all-time low of 7.9% of applicants admitted. This was the third time in the school’s history that the acceptance rate fell into single-digits. The highest acceptance rate at Dartmouth in the last decade was 13.5% for the Class of 2012.
Dartmouth Admissions – SAT, GPA, and Class Rank
According to the most recent official statistics available (Class of 2023), the mid-50% SAT range for admitted freshman was 1450-1550; the ACT the range was 32-35. The mean SAT was 1501 and the mean ACT was 33.1. Ninety-five percent had earned a place in the top 10%. More than 500 students admitted into this cohort were either the valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school class.
Admissions Trends & Notes – (Class of 2023)
- Nearly half of all admitted applicants were students of color.
- Dartmouth admitted students from all 50 U.S. States and 69 countries.
- 16% are the first in their family to attend college.
- Only 9% were children of Dartmouth alumni. Legacy numbers are typically much higher at Ivy League institutions; 12% claimed some type of “legacy” status.
- Over 20% of Class of 2023 students come from low-income households.
Being “Well-Rounded” is Not Enough
Dartmouth is looking for young people who are among the best, or, have the potential to be among the very best at something in the world. They are less interested in a jack of all trades, master of none type of individual. Just look at the list of notable Dartmouth alumni and you’ll get a sense of what the college is looking for: the next generation of politicians (Nelson Rockefeller, Kristen Gillebrand), award-winning writers (Dr. Seuss, Robert Frost), scientists (Samuel Katz, inventor of the measles vaccine), intellectuals (countless), and actors and actresses (Meryl Streep, Mindy Kaling).
For advice about how to stand out on the extracurricular front, check out our previous blog entitled How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need for College?
How Dartmouth Evaluates Applicants
In the words of the Dartmouth Office of Admissions: “Every student we admit brings something unique to the community: a combination of qualities, experiences, and point-of-view that isn’t duplicated by any other student.”
Dartmouth ranks the following categories as being “very important” to the admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, application essay, recommendations, extracurricular activities, and character/personal qualities. Only talent/ability is rated as “important,” and interviews, first-generation status, legacy status, geographic residence, racial/ethnic status, volunteer work, work, experience, and the level of an applicant’s interest are “considered.”
Outside of the classroom, Dartmouth is not going to be impressed that you filled the ten spaces on the Common App Activity List; they are looking for genuine excellence in one or more activities. For example, you won a prestigious international math competition, you are one of the top cellists in the United States, you published original scientific research, or you started a charitable organization that made a monumental impact. Of course, being a star athlete can also help. Dartmouth’s 35 Division I sports teams suit up 25% of the undergraduate population. Recruited athletes will enjoy an edge in the admissions process.
Who Actually Gets Into Dartmouth?
Let’s look at the demographics of the Class of 2023.
Geographically, the Class of 2023 was comprised of students from:
- International (from 69 countries): 12%
- Mid-Atlantic States: 19%
- Southern States: 20%
- Western States: 21%
- Midwestern States: 9%
- New England States: 18%
Competition is stiffest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast & the West Coast). If you hail from the Deep South or a less-populated state like Montana or Idaho, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances.
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown was as follows (percentages do not add up to 100% as applicants can list multiple races):
- White: 64%
- Asian: 20%
- Hispanic: 11%
- African American: 10%
- American Indian: 4%
Dartmouth’s Yield Rate
Dartmouth’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 64%. This number is on the high side even compared to other highly-selective colleges and universities. For comparison, elite schools such as Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt, Rice, Emory, and Georgetown all have yield rates under 50%.
Tips for Applying to Dartmouth
If you plan on joining the 23,000+ Dartmouth hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- Dartmouth does schedule alumni interviews for its applicants. Once you apply, your information will be sent to a volunteer alum in your area and they will contact you to set up the interview. Dartmouth interviews for early decision candidates are scheduled in November and interviews for regular decision applicants are scheduled between December and mid-February.
- For advice on what types of questions you should be prepared to answer/ask visit our blog—College Interview Tips.
- Dartmouth does consider “demonstrated interest” so, if possible, it is a good idea to make a campus visit, contact an admissions officer, connect with college on social media, and/or attend any local presentations by admissions officials at college fairs.
- Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essays and short answers required by Dartmouth. In the 2019-20 cycle, they are as follows:
Dartmouth’s writing supplement requires that applicants write brief responses to two supplemental essay prompts as follows:
- Please respond in 100 words or fewer:
While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, delivered this memorable line: “It is, Sir…a small college. And yet, there are those who love it!” As you seek admission to the Class of 2024, what aspects of the College’s program, community or campus environment attract your interest?
- Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:
- The Hawaiian word mo’olelo is often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself.
- In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” Which of the world’s “troubles” inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?
- In The Painted Drum, author Louise Erdrich ‘76 wrote, “… what is beautiful that I make? What is elegant? What feeds the world?” Tell us about something beautiful you have made or hope to make.
- “Yes, books are dangerous,” young people’s novelist Pete Hautman proclaimed. “They should be dangerous—they contain ideas.” What book or story captured your imagination through the ideas it revealed to you? Share how those ideas influenced you.
- “I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your curiosity.
- Labor leader Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist who co-founded the organization now known as United Farm Workers. She said, “We criticize and separate ourselves from the process. We’ve got to jump right in there with both feet.” Speak your truth: Talk about a time when your passion became action.
Should I Apply to Dartmouth?
If you are academically qualified, there is no harm in filling out a Dartmouth application, but—as with all ultra-elite colleges in 2020—even the strongest applicants need to have an array of “Target” and “Safety” schools selected. For more on this, consult our blog—How to Create the Perfect College List.
A licensed counselor and published researcher, Andrew’s experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans more than one decade. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep, and advisor to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.