How to Get Into Dartmouth College: All You Need to Know

Friday, July 8, 2022

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As a member of the Ivy League that’s known for its rural setting and renowned Greek life, it’s easy to understand why many students are ranking Dartmouth College at the top of their list of best-fit colleges. The school has plenty of well-regarded programs and is the only member of the Ivy League that is an undergraduate-focused college, rather than a university. 

Since Dartmouth College has a stellar reputation and receives thousands of applicants each year, students must go the extra mile in order to gain a seat in an upcoming class. Keep reading to learn more about what sets Dartmouth College apart and the best practices that applicants can take advantage of to increase their chances of admission.

How to Get Into Dartmouth College: Table of Contents

  1. When to Apply to Dartmouth College 
  2. How Hard Is It To Get Into Dartmouth: Early Prep 
  3. How To Actually Get Into Dartmouth: The Application
  4. Class Profile 
  5. What Makes Dartmouth College Unique?

When to Apply to Dartmouth College

When it comes to applying to Dartmouth College, one of the first steps students must take is reviewing the application timeline and making sure they’re prepared to meet every admissions milestone. Like most top-tier colleges in the United States, Dartmouth College uses a holistic admissions process that requires students to complete various steps and submit different materials on specific timelines. Here is an overview of the Dartmouth College admissions process and the dates that prospective applicants need to keep in mind:

Dartmouth Application Deadlines

Dartmouth’s application deadlines vary slightly from year to year, but generally occur around the same time in the academic calendar. For students applying during the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, the major application deadlines are as follows:

November 1

  • Deadline for Early Decision applications

November 1

  • Deadline for Early Decision financial aid applications

Mid-December

  • Admissions and financial aid decisions released online to Early Decision candidates

January 3

  • Deadline for Regular Decision applications

Late December

  • Early Decision response deadline

February 1

  • Deadline for Regular Decision financial aid applications

Late March or Early April

  • Admissions and financial aid decisions released online to Regular Decision candidates

May 2

  • Regular Decision response deadline

When students are reviewing admissions timelines for Dartmouth College, it’s important to keep in mind that the college offers two different admissions options, Early Decision and Regular Decision. Students who choose to commit to Dartmouth College through the binding Early Decision process will need to compile their application by the beginning of November and learn of their results in mid December. In contrast, applicants who opt for the Regular Decision round will need to submit their materials by early January and will hear back from Dartmouth by early April. These students will also need to decide whether they wish to commit to the college by the beginning of May.

Early, Rolling, and Regular Decision

As students enter high school, they may start hearing about different application processes, such as early action vs rolling admission. While much of the application process will look similar regardless of your timeline, it’s important to understand the distinct differences between early, rolling, and regular decision admissions. 

There are two different forms of early admissions: Early Action and Early Decision. The key differentiator between the two is that Early Decision is binding, meaning a student must enroll in the college they applied Early Decision to if they are accepted, while Early Action is not binding. There is also Restrictive Early Action, which Dartmouth College does not offer, which stipulates that students cannot apply to any other private college through an early admissions program. Generally speaking, most Early Decision and Early Action deadlines occur around the beginning of November, with decisions released approximately one month after. 

In contrast, rolling admissions do not follow a strict deadline. At most schools that offer this option, applications are accepted from September up until May, although it is best to submit your application as early as possible, since RA schools will continue to accept students until they reach their enrollment capacity. Dartmouth College does not offer rolling admissions. 

Finally, there are Regular Round admissions. Students who apply via the regular round generally need to submit their applications by early January and they learn of their results in early April. Dartmouth College offers a regular round admissions option.

Waitlisted Applications

Given how competitive it is to get into Dartmouth College, it’s not surprising that the school generally waitlists a portion of its applicants. The waitlist is comprised of exceptionally strong and distinguished applicants; the college just doesn’t have enough room to admit every single qualified student who applies. 

Students who are waitlisted will learn of this outcome when decisions are released, and they will have the option to choose whether they wish to remain on the waitlist or not. It’s important to note that Dartmouth’s admissions waitlists are not ranked; instead, applicants will be admitted off of the waitlist to fill institutional needs and ensure the upcoming Dartmouth class is balanced. 

If students apply via Early Decision, there is not a waitlist outcome, but there is something known as deferral, which means students will need to wait until regular round decisions are released to learn if they will be admitted or not. Many students want to know what to do if they have been deferred. Much like waitlists, the first step is to determine whether or not Dartmouth College is still your first choice college. If so, it’s important to find out what materials the school needs from you (such as an updated transcript) and send them out as soon as possible.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Dartmouth: Early Prep

Dartmouth College is one of the most prestigious institutions in the country. Every year, thousands of applicants apply and only a small percentage of these students gain a seat in an upcoming class. While Dartmouth’s application process is notoriously competitive, students can increase their chances of admission by preparing well in advance and doing their research to become experts on the school. 

Build Your Profile

Since Dartmouth gets an influx of applications each year, students must understand what the college is looking for so they know how they can stand out from the crowd. In Dartmouth College’s admissions process, academics are the factor that carries the most weight in college admissions decisions. Dartmouth’s admissions officers will affirm intellectually curious students who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to challenging themselves and expanding their horizons.

The school’s website states that Dartmouth expects academic excellence, encourages independent thought, and promotes a robust culture of interdisciplinary collaboration. The same source notes that fostering lifelong bonds among faculty, staff, and students encourages a culture of integrity, collaboration, and collegiality, which underscores Dartmouth’s commitment to admit students who will make a lasting impact on the community. Students who choose to attend Dartmouth College will not only gain a top tier education; they will also develop a sense of responsibility for one another and for the outside world, and they will be presented with ample opportunities to share their expertise and passions. 

Throughout their application process, students should highlight what they are passionate about, what they’ve done to pursue these passions throughout high school, and how attending Dartmouth College will help them take these pursuits to the next level. Students can discuss both academic interests as well as extracurricular activities that are meaningful to them. Rather than trying to list as many activities as possible in an attempt to stand out, it’s best for applicants to focus on a handful of interests that they have dedicated a substantial amount of time towards. 

Visit the Campus and a Class

If you’re eager to attend Dartmouth College, visiting the campus is one of the best things you can do to familiarize yourself with the school. If possible, see if you can sit in on a class to get a taste of the lecture experience and make sure to spend several hours walking around so that you get a feel for the rural campus and all of the nature that surrounds it. 

Connect with a Student

In addition to touring the campus, it can be helpful to get a student’s perspective on their experience at Dartmouth College. Your tour guide will likely be a current student. If you have the opportunity to ask them a few questions, use this as another chance to learn more about the student experience, straight from the source. If you have any friends or acquaintances who are currently enrolled, don’t hesitate to reach out to get your burning questions answered.

How Do You Actually Get Into Dartmouth: The Application

The bad news: there’s no magic trick or tried-and-true strategy that you can use to guarantee your admission to Dartmouth College. The good news: there are several steps that students can take to increase their odds of admission and set themselves apart for all of the right reasons. 

GPA Requirements

Dartmouth College doesn’t have a required GPA that students must meet to apply. However, the university emphasizes that academic excellence is the factor that carries the most weight during their admissions process. Over 94% of students who gained admission to Dartmouth in the 2020-21 admissions cycle graduated in the top 10% of their class. 

SAT and ACT Scores

Much like GPAs, there’s no minimum SAT or ACT score that students must achieve to apply to Dartmouth. However, for SAT scores, the middle 50 percent of admitted students scored between 710 and 770 on the Math section of the SAT and between 730 and 790 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion of the SAT. For the ACT, the middle 50 percent of admitted students scored between 32 and 35. When it comes to acing the SAT or ACT, the best thing students can do is begin preparing many months before their testing date and take several practice exams. 

Personal Statement

The personal statement is an opportunity to demonstrate not only your writing skills but also who you are and the qualities that set you apart. Students will have the chance to choose from a handful of different essay prompts, and will write an essay that is between 250 and 650 words long. Instead of worrying about what you “should” sound like, it’s best to focus on letting your authentic voice and unique personality shine through.

Essays

In addition to the Common App essay prompts, Dartmouth asks applicants to answer several supplemental essay questions to learn more about a student’s interests and the role they would play on campus. The school asks one required short answer question and then gives applicants the option to choose between six prompts for a second response. The questions for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle were as follows:

  1. 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 2026, what aspects of the College’s program, community, or campus environment attract your interest?
  1. Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:
  • “Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away,” observed Frida Kahlo. Apply Kahlo’s perspective to your own life.
  • In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba, Class of 2014, reflects on constructing a windmill from recycled materials to power the electrical appliances in his family’s Malawian house: “If you want to make it, all you have to do is try.” What drives you to create and what do you hope to make or have you already made?
  • 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.
  • What excites you?
  • Curiosity is a guiding element of Toni Morrison’s talent as a writer. “I feel totally curious and alive and in control. And almost…magnificent, when I write,” she says. Celebrate your curiosity.  
  • 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?

Letters of Recommendation

Dartmouth College requests two letters of recommendation from teachers and a recommendation from a high school guidance counselor, in addition to strongly encouraging a fourth letter of recommendation from a peer. Teacher recommendations should highlight a love of learning and the impact an applicant has on the classroom. Letters from a high school guidance counselor and a peer can speak to an applicant’s character and how they interact with the community at large. Since most teachers and counselors will get an influx of requests for letters of recommendation, aim to ask instructors by the start of senior year so they have plenty of time to compile their responses. 

Admission Interviews

Admissions interviews are conducted by volunteer alumni admissions ambassadors. Because Dartmouth College only has a finite number of volunteers and a vast number of applicants, not all students will have the option to interview. Consequently, interviews are not required. If an applicant is granted an interview, they will be connected with an interviewer after submitting their application. If a student is not offered an interview, they are not at any disadvantage in the admissions process. Interviews are both informative and evaluative and all conversations take place via virtual platform or phone call. 

Contribution to the Dartmouth Community

Like many colleges, Dartmouth College admissions officers are eager to admit applicants who will make a lasting impact on the Dartmouth community. Throughout every component of your application process, including supplemental essays, make sure to highlight your goals and the role you would hope to play once admitted to Dartmouth. Don’t shy away from specific details; it’s best to call out clubs you’d wish to join, classes you’re excited to take, and research opportunities that you would be enthusiastic to take part in. A commitment to giving back and connecting with the community is particularly crucial at a small, tight-knit college like Dartmouth, as every student will have a tangible impact and shape the campus experience. 

Class Profile 

Acceptance rate  6.2%
Class size 1,228
Undergraduate majors Economics, Political Science, Government and History, 

As you’re learning about how to get into Dartmouth College, don’t forget to review their class profile. Class profiles give applicants a window into what the admissions outcomes at a specific college look like. Every school includes slightly different information in their class profile, but almost all highlight their most recent acceptance rate, their class size, and some of the majors that the college is best known for. This information can help students get a picture of the college and assess their chances of admission. 

What Makes Dartmouth College Unique?

There are plenty of differentiators that make Dartmouth College unique. Most notably, it’s the only Ivy League institution that is a college, rather than a university. This is a conscious decision that reflects Dartmouth’s undergraduate focus and the tight-knit culture that students will experience once they step on a campus. Dartmouth has an array of renowned academic offerings, including visual and performing arts programs, STEM and engineering majors, and social sciences. 

In addition to top-tier academic classes, students have no shortage of options when it comes to extracurricular activities. From numerous a cappella and dance groups to professional networking clubs, every Dartmouth student will have plenty of opportunities to explore the fields that interest them most. 

The extracurricular activities at Dartmouth College will be especially appealing to nature lovers, as the college’s Outdoor Programs Office is dedicated to creating opportunities for members of the Dartmouth community to explore and enjoy the amazing natural landscape of New England. If students are interested in participating in Greek life, they will have the opportunity to join one of the 28 Greek chapters that are active on Dartmouth’s campus. 

Dartmouth has a host of famous alumni, including Robert Frost, Mindy Kahling, Fred Rogers, Kirsten Gillibrand, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes, and Elaine Chao. 

Admission Consulting

Most students and families can benefit from college admissions counseling, especially if they’re interested in gaining admission to a top-tier college. Working with an admissions counselor gives students the chance to receive personalized guidance throughout every step of the application process, including compiling a balanced college list and brainstorming for their personal statement. 

While working with a college admissions counselor is an invaluable experience, it’s important to assess whether you’re ready to give the admissions process your all. To make the most of college counseling, students must be engaged in the process and excited about their academic future. It’s also important to select a college admissions counselor who is accredited, qualified, and has ample admissions experience. Do plenty of research so you can pick an admissions counselor who brings out the best in the students they work with.

It’s needless to say that getting into Dartmouth College can be tough since it’s one of the top schools worldwide, but IvyWise’s admission experts are here to make it happen. Take the first step towards getting into your dream school and set an initial consultation.

Related Topics

Choosing a College, College Prep
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