The Ivy Coach Daily

February 10, 2023

What To Do After Being Deferred by Dartmouth

A panoramic of Dartmouth Colleges' Green at sunset.
Learn how to strategically approach a Dartmouth deferral (photo credit: Derrick Smith).

Were you deferred by Dartmouth College in the Early Decision round? Dartmouth alumnus and former Secretary of State Daniel Webster, in the landmark Dartmouth College v. Woodward case before the Supreme Court, argued, “It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college, and yet there are those who love it.”

So how can you express your continued love for the school that deferred your candidacy to earn a spot in the incoming class during Regular Decision? Well, of all the places you’ll go, to paraphrase Dartmouth’s own Dr. Seuss, you’ve come to the right place to find out.

The Percentage of Accepted Dartmouth Early Decision Applicants

First, let’s take a look at Dartmouth’s dwindling Early Decision acceptance rate through the last generation — from this past Early Decision cycle for the Class of 2028, in which 17% of applicants got in, back to the Class of 2007, in which 32.4% of applicants got in:

Admissions CycleDartmouth Graduating ClassDartmouth’s Early Decision Admission Rate
2023-2024Class of 202817%
2022-2023Class of 202719%
2021-2022Class of 202621.27%
2020-2021Class of 202521.2%
2019-2020Class of 202426.4%
2018-2019Class of 202323.2%
2017-2018Class of 202224.9%
2016-2017Class of 202127.8%
2015-2016Class of 202025.6%
2014-2015Class of 201926%
2013-2014Class of 201827.9%
2012-2013Class of 201729.4%
2011-2012Class of 201625.8%
2010-2011Class of 201525.2%
2009-2010Class of 201425.5%
2008-2009Class of 201325.5%
2007-2008Class of 201228%
2006-2007Class of 201129.6%
2005-2006Class of 201030.2%
2004-2005Class of 200933.9%
2003-2004Class of 200830%
2002-2003Class of 200732.4%

The Percentage of Deferred and Denied Dartmouth Early Decision Applicants

Most years, Dartmouth lumps deferred and denied students together in their Early Decision data, not disclosing the percentage of students who deferred as opposed to denied admission. Yet, on average, over the last several years, Dartmouth has tended to defer and deny students in relatively equal percentages.

Inside Scoop from a Former Dartmouth Admissions Officer, Ivy Coach’s Ben Schwartz

Dartmouth Deferral
Ben Schwartz of Ivy Coach

Ivy Coach’s Ben Schwartz, a former Dartmouth admissions officer, offers this inside scoop: “While it can vary from year to year, of the students who don’t earn admission in the Early Decision round, Dartmouth typically defers half and denies half. So in a year in which around 20% earn ED admission, figure 40% were deferred, and 40% were denied. We genuinely always hoped that, with a few extra months, some of our deferred students would show the upward trajectory in their coursework and activities needed to earn admission.”

5 Things Deferred Dartmouth Early Decision Applicants Should Do

After receiving word of a deferral from Dartmouth, we encourage students to take the following actions:

  1. Focus on what went wrong with your Early Decision application. This way, you can avoid making the same mistakes with other universities in the Regular Decision round. But asking a Dartmouth admissions officer why you didn’t get in will only undercut your case for Regular Decision admission as it will render you a gadfly. Besides, admissions officers will rarely tell students the genuine reasons for a deferral. During Ivy Coach’s PostMortem application review, we inform you precisely what went wrong so you can avoid repeating those mistakes.
  2. Write a Letter of Continued Interest swiftly, which you should email to your regional representative on the admissions staff and upload to the portal. It would be best if you did not let days go by so it gets closer to the holidays. The letter should be a love letter to Dartmouth. It should showcase how you hope to contribute your singular hook — and not well-roundedness — to The Woods through the school’s culture, traditions, activities, programs, institutes, research, and much more. It’s not about submitting just any letter. It’s about submitting a compelling letter that inspires admissions officers to root for you.
  3. Prepare other outstanding applications to your Regular Decision schools if you still need to complete them. And, even if you have completed them, you may wish to rejigger them based on the corrective course recommended during Ivy Coach’s PostMortem.
  4. Bring that letter to your school counselor in the New Year and ask your counselor to make an advocacy call on your behalf. But instead of just presenting you any old way, your counselor can now position you as you’ve positioned yourself in your Letter of Continued Interest. While some school counselors, particularly at top private schools, will resist making advocacy calls, sometimes citing fairness, it’s their job to fight for their students. You’re not asking them not to fight for other students. You’re asking them to fight for you.
  5. Keep your grades up after the holidays and maintain the rigor of your courses. Post-deferral is not the time to show slippage in your academic performance.

5 Things Deferred Dartmouth Early Decision Applicants Should Not Do

After receiving word of a deferral from Dartmouth, we encourage students to avoid taking the following actions:

  1. Reach out to the Dartmouth admissions office to find out why you didn’t get in. The reason doesn’t matter, and it’s improbable they’ll tell you the genuine reasons why you were deferred in any case.
  2. Send weekly updates to Dartmouth on all that you’re up to and all you’re achieving. All you can do is submit that one compelling Letter of Continued Interest. Any further contact by you will only render you less likable, and it will drown out the power of your letter. Don’t be a gadfly. It won’t serve you.
  3. Complain to your high school counselor. Don’t make it seem like it’s their fault you didn’t get in. You applied to an Ivy League school, one of the most selective universities in America. Besides, your high school counselor can be your greatest advocate in Regular Decision.
  4. Upload nonsense to your Dartmouth portal. Dartmouth doesn’t want to see your dental records. They don’t want to see lots of additional letters of recommendation. They already received four — from two teachers, your school counselor, and a peer!
  5. Don’t pitch a tent outside the admissions office or take out a bus advertisement imploring Dartmouth to admit you. Don’t send them a video. And don’t send them cheesecake either. Hey, you’d be surprised by the crazy things deferred students do!

Chances of Getting into Dartmouth After Being Deferred

Historically, 5-10% of students whose admission is deferred by Dartmouth in the Early Decision round ultimately earn admission in Regular Decision, a figure slightly lower than most elite universities.

Dartmouth Deferral FAQ

What does Dartmouth value that’s not necessarily important to other Ivy League schools?

Among other things, Dartmouth wants to know that students will be happy in the mountains of New Hampshire. They want to know you’ll appreciate the outdoors. The school’s unofficial motto in recent years is “Welcome to The Woods” for a reason. So no matter your hook, which you must showcase, it’s vital to demonstrate how you’ll take advantage of the outdoors. Will you be canoeing down The Connecticut with the Dartmouth Outing Club? Will you be spending overnights on the Second College Grant? Let’s hear it!

Is it really possible to earn admission to Dartmouth after a deferral?

Just about every year, we at Ivy Coach help students who first come to us after their deferral earn admission in Regular Decision. In fact, the author of this post was deferred in the Early Decision round at Dartmouth and ultimately earned admission. As the old Hair Club for Men commercial went, “I’m not only the Hair Club president, but I’m also a client.”

Does Dartmouth admit fewer deferred students than other top universities?

Arguably, Dartmouth admits slightly fewer deferred applicants than other elite universities since most elite universities admit 10% of deferred students, whereas Dartmouth admits 5-10% depending on the year.

When does Dartmouth return attention to deferred Early Decision applicants?

Dartmouth’s admissions office typically returns their attention to the deferred pool of applicants around two weeks before Regular Decision notifications are released. So figure around March 15th.

Does Dartmouth courtesy defer some students?

Yes, like most highly selective universities, Dartmouth will defer some students they have no intention of ultimately admitting during Regular Decision. Examples of courtesy deferrals can be legacies — the progeny of Dartmouth alums — or strong students from a high school with a good relationship with Dartmouth who failed to stand out on non-academic measures. Why would Dartmouth defer the latter group of students? That’s easy. So as not to scare away Regular Decision candidates from the school.

Ivy Coach’s Help After Dartmouth Deferral

If you need help navigating a Dartmouth deferral to give yourself the best chance of admission in Regular Decision, reach out to Ivy Coach by filling out our free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch. You’d work directly with former Dartmouth admissions officer Ben Schwartz of Ivy Coach.

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