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Watch Our Ranking Fall

When she announced that applications for the Class of 2018 had dropped by 14%, Admissions Director Maria Laskaris ‘84 also said that our acceptance rate will be “above 11%” this year (it was 9.79% two years ago). That’s an embarrassing development, but the sting will be worse when the College’s overall U.S. News ranking dives by several places in the fall. We’ll have to wait until September to learn where we stand versus other colleges after the bad press of the past few years and the collapsing application numbers, but it’s hard to imagine that we’ll keep our #10 position (tied with CalTech).

In U.S. News’ methodology, the acceptances/applications percentage only counts for 1.5% of our total rating, but that slight difference could cost us our tie. However, beyond that, 22.5% of the ranking comes from peer assessments: the views of college presidents, provosts and deans of admissions; and a survey of counselors at top-ranked public high schools. By now there can’t be anyone in these categories who isn’t aware of the College’s string of student life scandals, the AP fiasco, and the general turmoil on campus (fly-by-night Jim Kim and the high turnover in the senior administration, the College’s overspending, high tuition and comparatively ungenerous financial aid). I could go on.

Our ranking has already been drifting lower for a good while; on average, we have dropped about one or two positions each decade:

Dartmouth U.S. News Ranking.jpg

The trend can only accelerate now. I can’t see us being any better than #12 come the fall.

If our ranking drops, then you can expect that applications will be down again next year, and our reputation will suffer even more. Guess what that will do to our ranking the following September? On and on in the downward death spiral.


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