What Does It Really Take to Get Into Dartmouth?

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Each year, thousands and thousands of hopeful college applicants wait with bated breath to hear back from Dartmouth College, the smallest of the Ivy Leagues. With the number of college applicants on the rise, college admissions have never been so competitive, but the good news is that there are some things that savvy applicants can do to stand out.


In this post, we’ll share our top tips for scoring that increasingly rare acceptance to Dartmouth College. Keep reading to unlock our unique insights, gained through our experience with thousands of Ivy League applicants.


Want to learn what Dartmouth College will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Dartmouth College needs to know.


Applying to Dartmouth: A Quick Overview


It should come as no surprise that we’ve written about getting into Dartmouth before. In fact, for a comprehensive overview of all the nitty gritty, including school statistics, requirements, and deadlines, don’t miss our post The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Dartmouth College. In this post, we’ll focus specifically on your application and how you can ensure you’re optimized your chances of getting in.


Of course, the first thing you need to do is make sure you meet the basic requirements. This includes getting your application in before the deadline and ensuring that it includes all the required elements.


Dartmouth College accepts both early decision (ED) and regular decision (RD) applications. The deadline for ED applications is November 1st. Remember that if you apply early decision, you may only apply to one school and are committed to attending should you be accepted. For more information, don’t miss our post Early Decision versus Early Action versus Restrictive Early Action. The regular decision deadline is January 1st.


Dartmouth College accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application (CAAS). They do not accept the Universal Application. To learn more about the Common Application, don’t miss our post A User’s Guide to the Common App.


To complete your application to Dartmouth College, you’ll need to be sure you include:


  • A secondary school report with transcript, school profile, and evaluation completed by your counselor
  • Two recommendations from your teachers
  • Test results from either the SAT or the ACT
  • $80 Application Fee or Fee Waiver Form
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is English is not your first language
  • Dartmouth Writing Supplement – for more information about this, don’t miss our post How to Write the Dartmouth College Supplemental Essays 2018-2019


In addition, it is recommended (though not required) that you submit scores from at least two SAT Subject Tests and a recommendation written by a peer. Again, these elements are not required, but they are recommended and you should submit them wherever possible.


How Difficult Is It To Get Into Dartmouth?


Dartmouth College is among the most selective colleges in the country. It accepted just 8.7% of its 22,033 applicants to the class of 2022. Applications to Dartmouth have risen 10% over the last year and its most recent admissions cycle was its largest applicant pool in five years.


Dartmouth has also increased its yield recently, meaning that it has recently begun to garner a higher percentage of accepted students than in prior years. For this reason, the admissions committee is handing out fewer acceptances than in years past. The yield for the class of 2022 was 61%, the highest in 25 years.

So How Does One Get Into Dartmouth, Then?


With such a competitive selection process, Dartmouth College has the ability to be very picky about who it accepts. Ultimately, admissions are offered to students who meet its standards both in terms of academics and achievements outside of the classroom.


Dartmouth is of course very selective academically. Students admitted to the class of 2022 achieved a mean SAT score of 1497 or a mean ACT score of 33. 97% of students whose high schools rank students were ranked in the top 10% of their graduating class. Doing well academically is definitely a top priority for students who want to attend Dartmouth, but it is not the only factor considered.


Dartmouth values diversity of all kinds. 15% of its admitted students were first-generation college students this year, and 50% are students of color. 11% of the admitted class are foreign citizens and 60% applied for financial aid.


Dartmouth also places high value on community, a stance that was reinforced by President Philip J. Hanlon when he welcomed the class of 2022 to campus. “The search for truth is a team sport, most effectively done when ideas and opinions are exchanged in an open and respectful manner,” he reminded students.


To get into Dartmouth, you’ll need to prove that you’re not only a strong student academically, but also that you’re a positive contributor to your community. This is hard for the admissions committee to glean from an application, so you should strive to highlight it through your essays, extracurriculars, and recommendations.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Start Early. Don’t rush your college application. You’ll need plenty of time to mull over your essays and short answer questions, and even more time to edit and proofread. If you’ve left your college applications to the last minute, you’ll be at a disadvantage at selective schools like Dartmouth.


Highlight Your Value to Your Community. Dartmouth values respectful discourse, cooperative work, and students who work to change the world. You can most easily highlight these skills through your extracurriculars. Try to engage in activities that give back to your community in some way and that show a commitment to civic duty and teamwork.   


Consider Early Decision. Of the 1,925, students offered admissions to the class of 2022, 525 were accepted through the Early Decision program. This means that your odds of getting in are significantly increased by applying early.


Be Yourself. Admissions committees see a lot of applications over admissions season and they are well trained at recognizing when a student is being true to him or herself. Be authentic and genuine and unapologetically you. If you don’t get in, at least you’ll know if was the real you who didn’t fit, and you can take comfort in knowing the real you will do better elsewhere.


What If You Get Rejected?


Dartmouth is extremely selective and many top students ultimately are rejected. In fact, far more academically qualified students apply to Dartmouth than it is able to accept each year. This means that it routinely turns away students who present top SAT scores and high GPAs. While it can be hard to move past a rejection, try not to dwell on it.


Dartmouth does not accept admissions appeals, so don’t waste your time formulating any compelling arguments to change their mind. Dartmouth does accept transfer students, though, and you are allowed to reapply as a freshman another year if you choose to take a gap year. While neither of these should be your knee-jerk reaction after a rejection, they are opportunities to consider if you are well suited to them in other ways too. To learn more about gap years, check out our post What Are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year? and What You Need To Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year. For more about transferring, see our post Transferring Colleges: Opportunity Costs to Consider.


Sometimes, the easiest choice after rejection is simply to set your sights elsewhere. While this can initially be a bitter pill to swallow, it’s important to remember that ultimately it’s not where you go to college that matters, but what you do with your time there. For our advice on adjusting to life at a college that wasn’t your first choice, read our post Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


Check out the CollegeVine’s Elite Universities Application Assistance page for more information on our targeted services for applicants to top colleges.


For more information about admissions to the Ivy League, check out these CollegeVine blogs:


Meet the Ivy League Class of 2021

The Demographics of the Ivy League

What Are the Average High School GPAs of Admitted Students at Ivy League Schools?

Which Ivy League School is Right for You?

Dealing With Ivy Day

Colleges That Are Great Beyond the Famous Eight: How Success and Achievement Exist Outside the Ivy League, Too


Curious about your chances of acceptance to Dartmouth? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.