How to Get Into Dartmouth


How to Get Into Dartmouth

If you’re wondering how to get into Dartmouth, let’s start with the disappointing news. Dartmouth, like every other Ivy League institution, is extremely difficult to get into. Moreover, there is no magic “silver bullet” that will guarantee your admission to the Big Green. You still need great grades, great test scores, and a great deal of good luck. That being said, there are a couple of things you may want to pay attention to in your application, or as you plod through high school. Here’s a small playbook for the Big Green:

1. Being “well-rounded”

First off, Dartmouth does seem to place a slightly higher emphasis on “well-rounded” students than its Ivy League counterparts. Dartmouth tends to like a slightly more athletic, outdoorsy type (although, it may very well be the case that it’s simply these types of individuals who prefer Dartmouth, and not the other way around). Nonetheless, when walking around Dartmouth’s campus, it’s hard not to get the impression that everyone is somehow an elite athlete or eating way too many wheaties.

Bottom line: Dartmouth loves people who have a particular passion and uncommon achievements in that passion, but it also likes applicants with a few commonplace interests as well, such as sports or outdoors activities.

2. Having the “cool factor”

Second, according to one of our former admissions readers from Dartmouth, they have a proclivity for falling for the “cool factor.” Basically, this means you’ve done something that makes an admissions officer stop and say “oh - that’s pretty cool.” Perhaps this is symptomatic of Dartmouth’s desire for a diverse campus, or maybe it’s just part of Dartmouth’s institutional culture. But if you want to maximize your chances of getting into Dartmouth, try to do something really unique that will catch admissions officers eyes. For example, “I started a company which creates financial incentives to recycle,” is much cooler than the perennial snooze-fest: “I am a Model United Nations champion.” You'll want to exude this “cool factor” when tackling the Common App and Dartmouth essay prompts.

Bottom Line: ask a stranger to look at your resume. If he/she doesn’t say “oh - cool!” then you need to spice it up a bit. Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

3. Humanities Potential

Third, how do you feel about the Humanities? Historically, Dartmouth was a humanities-centric institution. It’s a college rather than a university, so it lacks the advanced facilities of many larger institutions. Thus, the college on the hill has tended to stick to what it does best: humanities and social sciences.

This changed slightly with the tenure of President Jim Kim (or Jimbo Slice as he is called by those who have too much time). President Kim refocused the institution on STEM fields, pushing Humanities to the side for the time being. However, things seemed to have returned to normal, as admissions officers from this past cycle have reported that the admissions office was requesting readers to “flag” humanities applicants.

Bottom line: Dartmouth has and will likely continue to have a stronger preference for the humanities and social sciences. Imagine an admissions officer’s perspective: you might be a little reluctant to admit a student interested in Engineering when so many similarly competitive schools have better engineering programs. On the other hand, a student interested in Government or Classics, if admitted, is quite likely to attend - at least relative to a STEM applicant.


So, what's the answer to how to get into Dartmouth? Dartmouth is a tight-knit community that seeks all-around awesome candidates. Being well-rounded, cool, and having an interest in Humanities all might give you an edge, but you need to be the total package. Pursue your passions, and the best of luck to you!

Joel Butterly

Joel Butterly, Co-founder and CEO of InGenius Prep, is an experienced admissions counselor and entrepreneur. Joel comes from a rich educational background—his immediate family alone has 14 Ivy League Degrees—from Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and Dartmouth.

Joel attended Dartmouth College, where he studied Government, Geography, and the Philosophy of Ethics. He was inducted early into Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated Summa Cum Laude. He graduated with a double major in Government and International Studies, and a minor in Ethical Philosophy.

After Dartmouth, Joel attended Yale Law School, where he served on the executive board of the Journal on Regulation, as well as the Law School’s entrepreneurship society.

Joel currently resides at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut. He lives with his fiance – Emily – who teaches and is receiving her PhD in Medieval History from Yale.

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