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Lots of Early Decision/Legacy Admits

Have you noticed how the College is admitting more and more students early? Look at the rise in the Early Decision numbers over the past decade: from a steady 380-393 students for the classes from 2006 to 2013, to 448 and 474 for the 14’s and 15’s. That’s a big jump in just the past two years, during which time the steady 35-36% of each class admitted via ED rose to 43%.

Factbook Admissions 2012b.jpg

The number of legacies admitted to the College has also increased by about the same percentage for the last two classes: from 10-11% to a full 14%.

Dartmouth Legacies.jpg

When the College goes head to head with other élite schools, it seems that we are having trouble attracting students. Playing with the Early Decision admit rate and legacy admissions is a way of keeping the College’s yield up. If they’re accepted, they will come.

Let’s phrase the proposition differently: the Admissions Office is having an increasingly difficult time filling the freshman class. In order to have the same number of students accept to come to Hanover, the College either has to increase the total number of students that it admits — which does not look good — or it can open the ED/legacy spigot wider and keep the total number of admits the same.

Additionally, there is a financial angle to all of this: students accepted via ED are not able to play Dartmouth off against other schools in negotiating financial aid. The amount of money that ED students pay in tuition, room and board can be substantially higher than regular admits. Same goes for legacies, whose educated parents have incomes far above the average levels of other applying students.

I wonder how many of the 16’s got in early and/or are legacies? We’ll know in a week or two when the College’s Office of Institutional Research updates its admissions figures in the Dartmouth Fact Book.

In a year we’ll see how things look for the Class 2017, in light of the drop in Early Decision applications that the Admissions Department is facing this year.

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