Case Studies

Tips To Get Admission in Dartmouth College

Miguel Marfori

Get some amazing tips to gain admission in Dartmouth College

When you look at a lot of colleges, especially the elite ones, a lot of them try to go for the elite of the elite: Be big, flaunt the style, and do other things that just make them look a bit too intimidating. But when you have a look at Dartmouth College, you’ll be amazed how heartwarming and chill it can be despite how small it can be. Known for being the only college among the Ivy League crew, Dartmouth College shows off without saying much. It lets its location and system speak for themselves. It’s even inspired a student to write about her experience with them in the admissions section here.

So, think you got what it takes to be part of this college? You definitely can! It's all in the matter of reading the guide we've got laid out for you below. It'll be quite a challenge, but in time, you'll be able to gain admissions to Dartmouth College. Read on and find out how! 

1. Take a look at the glimpse of what Dartmouth College looks for in a student

As you're getting started in your journey towards gaining admissions to Dartmouth College, it pays to know what they're looking for in a prospective student. You can't just expect that you can submit your application and hope you got it all. Thankfully, they've laid it out here, but it's quite a small description without much to go by. Here's what it says here on their website: "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. Our holistic selection process is grounded in the concept that the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts. At Dartmouth, this idea is at the forefront of our application review process.” As you’ve just seen, they’re using a holistic review system. Similar to how other elite universities such as Yale University, Dartmouth College does a review of each applicant that's got a lot more art than science. As they explained on their site: "Holistic admissions is grounded in the concept that the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts. At Dartmouth, this idea is at the forefront of our application review process. More information about the Holistic Admissions." In simpler terms, they'll go beyond what most admission teams in other colleges do and go for a more in-depth look. You can think of it as seeing layers underneath. 

2. Exhibit some of the values Dartmouth College practice and do

While there isn't much to go by with what they're looking for, Dartmouth College actively lives by their values to the point that they've dedicated a page on their site to let everyone know about them here. Down below we’ve listed a few of the values you should be able to practice and do while you’re still applying:

  • We expect academic excellence, encourage independent thought, and promote a robust culture of interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • We recruit and admit outstanding students from all backgrounds, regardless of their financial means, so that finances are never a barrier to admission.
  • We instill in students a sense of responsibility for one another and the broader world, and give them ample opportunities to share their expertise and passions.
  • We promote the vigorous and open debate of ideas while encouraging mutual respect for diverse opinions.

By having a better understanding of the values listed here, you'll be able to achieve what Dartmouth College is looking for in a student while also showing them you want to be a part of their culture and you'll do it by practising what they're preaching even before you've submitted your application. 

3. Have a glimpse on how the dean does the process in some areas

Even when you have an idea of what Dartmouth College looks for in a student and the values you can live by, it still doesn’t give you much of the details on how the process of selecting applications is done. Don’t worry, Lee Coffin, dean of admissions and financial aid, elaborated a bit on that in an interview he did back in 2017. When he was asked how the variable is taken into account within the process, he said, “What’s always such a challenge in a very selective environment is that admissions data points are so dominant in the public narrative of college admissions. Grade point averages, SAT scores, rank in class—those are the markers that most people recognize as legitimate and credible. The harder question is when you move beyond that set of data. One of the challenges is that there isn’t an easy way to quantify curiosity or creativity or citizenship or all of the things that get lumped into non-cognitive abilities.” He’s even revealed that he changed a bit of the essay questions with applications to get better replies from prospective students. As he explained: “First, we asked a question that was required of all applicants, which was essentially, "Why Dartmouth?" And we hadn't had that question on the application before. Last year's question channeled Dr. Seuss and "Oh, the places you'll go" and asked students to think about where they hoped to go in their careers or their academic journeys and how Dartmouth might help them get there. One memorable response was, "What other Ivy is so wonderfully framed by nature, which makes it an ideal campus for me to study environmental science and apply what I'm learning?" We also included a quote from Henry James about the value of kindness as an essential human quality, and that prompt asked applicants to reflect on a moment when kindness guided their actions—to signal that you can be academically accomplished and intellectually engaged, but also retain that core quality of kindness. Students shared a wide range of examples—from interactions in a classroom to peer-to-peer associations—that helped us imagine the qualities they would add to the campus community.” 

With the way things go with the admissions, it can be tricky to navigate the system, but having an idea on why the dean did his job will give you a better way towards boosting your application. 

4. Develop the spike that you already have in you 

As you've just learned, Dartmouth College's admission process is entirely something to think about. It uses a holistic process, and Lee Coffin has done a few tweaks to the process that most students wouldn't know about which means you need to find your way in standing out from the rest and showing the college you're a unique student. How would you go about that? Develop the spike that you already have in you. What’s that? According to PrepScholar here, a spike, "is what sets you apart from all other applicants. It goes against the spirit of simply being well rounded. By nature of being unique, you don't fit in with all of the other well-rounded applicants; you do something that truly stands out in a meaningful way." It’s another way of saying you need to be world-class or something similar in status.

But going for that kind of status will take a big chunk of your time. You might even think about throwing in the towel and think it’s not worth it. Need some hyping up? Look at Drake. His looks and name already have you remember many of his songs and the meme he's always in. He's got the style that transcends genres. But don't think that just because he's famous these days doesn't mean he didn't do hard work. Even a guy like him has to go through a lot of trial and error to be where he is now. So if Drake can become world-class in music, you can be world-class in your area of interest too! 

5. Map out your way for developing your spike

Before getting started with preparing your spike, it's always a good idea to know the areas of interest you're already good at. Once you've taken note of those, pick one that you know can be developed to the max and leave out the rest. After all, you're creating a spike where much of your time will be dedicated to maxing out the skills and levels. When you've got the area of interest selected, start mapping out your way to developing the spike for it. For example, if the spike you're growing for involves archery, then you can follow steps like these:

  1. Write down a weekly plan
  2. Research for online classes and videos 
  3. Hire an expert tutor
  4. Join elite groups and clubs
  5. Participate in a tournament
  6. Practice the ancient archery practices that experts go with today every day

By performing these steps regularly, you'll gradually build the spike, and in no time, you'll find you're already in a similar status to being world-class. Once you arrive there, Dartmouth College will see you're no ordinary student at all. 

6. Try out a part-time job 

While most students will just chill out and do nothing much on their free time after school, you can be different and show Dartmouth College that you're a hard worker by trying out a part-time job. Whether it's a clerk, a secretary or any working position that won't put too much strain on you, it'll be an excellent way to experience the ways of the workforce, earn some cash on the side, and give Dartmouth College a great story to tell because finding out a student like you will provide them with the great impression you got goals all set in mind. 

7. Show your academic excellence with summer classes

Most high schools offer summer classes for students who want to have a little advancement to their academic journey. Of course, many would just say no to those classes and just play around for fun. But in your case, you'll gladly take these classes because it'll not only help you learn some cool things you don't get in regular days, but it'll boost your application in a way that'll have Dartmouth College be delighted when they review your application. It'll even show them that you're the kind of student who has a keen eye for learning more.

8. Be at one with the honours classes

Another right way to rev up your application while you're still in high school is taking honours classes which are activities you can partake alongside your regular school regimen. They're like your regular classes but have more materials added. You can think of them as having a level higher than most students, so if most students are on level 1, you're on level 5 already. These classes can be a bit of hard work and will require discipline and effort but finishing them will make your application look perfect, and it'll show Dartmouth College you're no slouch at all. 

9. Select the course that’ll let you chill out with Dartmouth College

Got all that you need to be considered by Dartmouth College when they're reviewing your application? You're now ready to pick a course. It's going to be a bit daunting to know which one you'll go for, so you can check out their catalogue here. The courses are very detailed to the point that you can see the departmental requirements and other info you usually would get when you're already enrolled. 

10. Acquire the requirements needed for applying with Dartmouth College

Finally, select the course you'll be enrolling in with Dartmouth College? Awesome! Now you're ready to get the requirements. You can have a more in-depth look at the requirements here but fret not, we’ve got a peek at the essentials below: 

  • Completed Common or Coalition Application
  • Responses to supplemental essays
  • Secondary School Report
  • SAT or ACT score results
  • High school transcript
  • TOEFL Results (if English isn’t your primary language)
  • $80 application fee or fee waiver form
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers 
  • Secondary school report

It’s also been highly recommended from someone that CollegeVine knows that you can submit at results from at least two SAT Subject tests. They're not required, but if you want to up the chances with your application, it's a good idea to submit them along with the requirements shown above. 

11.  See the SAT and ACT scores Dartmouth College are delighted to gander 

Dartmouth College has never stated any minimum line when it comes to the scores, but seeing as how they’re a tough college to apply for, you’re going to need spectacular scores. How great must they be? As college Simply has gathered here:

Dartmouth College SAT and ACT scores

As you can see above, your SAT score must be above 1490 and ACT score must be above 33. What does it all mean for you? You’re going to have quite a challenge because more students are vying for the same spot, so be ready for them. 

12. Score significantly on the ACT and SAT tests

With the scores that Dartmouth College likes to see in your mind, your next step is achieving them. You cannot expect them to be handed to you quickly, so here are tips and tricks to remember when you're reaching the goal of scoring significantly on the ACT and SAT tests: 

  • Practice the tests 

When it comes to the tests, you need to feel them and know them. That’s why you have to practice the tests which means you need to know the question types, have an idea on how to answer them, and practice all that you can until you know them by heart. It won’t be easy, but on test day, you’ll feel like you’re chatting with an old friend. 

  • Prepare with the apps

In the old days, preparing for the tests was a drag, especially when a lot of the materials were clutter-like. It made you feel like you were in an attic full of unwanted content. Now? You can finally prepare with the app versions. Once you've practised the tests, you can apply what you've learned and tried out your knowledge with the apps. It'll also serve as practice materials. 

  • Get tutored by the experts

Even with the practice tools and apps, you still need a guide that will help you further your goal with scoring significantly on the tests, so get a tutor to assist you further. Whether it's a group class or a one-on-one session, having a tutor will substantially benefit you because you'll learn from the expert who conquered the tests and teach you their ways so that you can apply them when test day comes. 

  • Read official guides

While you're studying with the experts, get yourself an official guide about the tests as well. They may not be much, but they'll have a boatload of info on the things you can do and not do when you're tackling the tests. Plus, they're official guides, so any info you get from there are officially supported and not gathered by dubious informers who think they can make cheap giving out false details. 

  • Stick to a consistent schedule

It pays to have a consistent schedule when you're studying for the tests because let's face it: There are many distractions out there. One minute, you're getting a good flow with the SAT practice tools and the next minute, you're already bingeing on your favourite TV show. That's why you must list down a schedule and stick with it. For example, you can schedule your practices and studying time before you start your classes or after classes. You can also factor in your tutoring sessions. Whatever works for you, stick to the schedule. 

13. Check out Dartmouth College’s acceptance rates

Similar to Duke University's admissions, Dartmouth College doesn't give out thorough details on what they look for in a prospective student. It's only from the dean and the values of the college do you find out more. It's also why they can be quite selective in their process. How careful, you may ask? As TopTier Admissions shows here: 

Dartmouth College Acceptance Rates

The acceptance rate from 2012 was as high as 13.47%, but over the years, it went down and up until it reached 10.52% in 2020. It's projected that by 2024, it'll be at 8.79%. That's why it's best to keep these rates in your mind because even if the rate went up and down like a diagonal line in the last few years, who's to say it won't go down even further in the later years? That's why you have to take your chances actively. 

14. Rev up your application 

When you’ve acquired the application requirements, you can get go ahead and rev up your application. You definitely won’t do it ordinarily, so here are the things we can suggest that will help:

  • Answer the essays excellently

As a requirement for your application, you’ll need to answer supplemental essays provided by Dartmouth College. It's going to be a challenge considering that Lee Coffin revealed earlier that the more accessible versions were changed in the years before to get something more substantial from an applicant. But don't be intimidated with them: Instead, take the time to understand what the essay requires and answer them confidently. If you need some guides, College Vine has a nifty list of tips you can use based on the essay questions here.

  • Consult the experts

As you’re drawing near completion with your application, get in touch with the experts and let them have a look at your application. It'll give you not only a second opinion but also a right way of seeing what you've missed out and what else can be added. You may even ask anyone you know who's connected to Dartmouth College and let them share their views on what makes a great application. 

  • Consult the experts

If there's one thing Dartmouth College is clear about, they're looking for students who are themselves. What does it mean? It means you don't have to put on some kind of act and pretend you're someone. You can be who you are and present it with the spike, the activities and other things you've done to boost your application. It'll help Dartmouth College see the parts about you that will contribute significantly with them. 

15. Submit everything, cross your fingers and hope for the best

Once you've got it all under wraps, make that submission, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. It's not a guarantee you'll get right in, and you can already see the acceptance rate is quite low that you got to hope. So it's all in the matter of patience.  

Not Accepted? 

You've finally waited for the results after time has passed, and what do you get? Rejection! So will you concede? No, you won’t because there’s still another option to pursue. It's not the usual option, and it's no guarantee you'll get in, but you've already tried applying, so giving it a go won't have you lose much. Here it is: 

Alternative Option: Attend a different college and transfer to Dartmouth College later

You can try applying for a different college and transferring to Dartmouth College later. The requirements for transferring are here which also show details on the guidelines and other info you'll need for making a successful transfer. But before you get all so excited about this option, be mindful about the transfer acceptance rate, which is lower than what the regular acceptance rate you learned about earlier. How low? According to Campus Reel, the current transfer acceptance rate is 1.49%. Yes, it’s that low. But if you’re able to show Dartmouth College how different you’ve become after being rejected by them, they may just consider you. 


Dartmouth College is quite the elite institute. Even when it's smaller than the other Ivy League members, it's able to dazzle the students with its system, environment, and aura. Yep, it's selective in the admissions process, and it'll be a challenge. But with the guide you've read, you'll have a chance at being part of a college. 



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