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Dartmouth College, University of Chicago Get Record Undergrad Applications

Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago reported all-time highs in undergraduate applications for admission, joining at least four other U.S. colleges in setting records.

Dartmouth’s total for the next academic year rose 16 percent to more than 21,700, from 18,778 a year earlier, Maria Laskaris, dean of admissions and financial aid, said today in a statement. Chicago’s total increased 12 percent to 21,669, from 19,374 a year earlier, according to a separate announcement.

More students are seeking to win spots in Dartmouth’s freshman class because of the university’s financial-aid program, Laskaris said. The cost to attend Dartmouth, in Hanover, New Hampshire, for the current academic year is $52,275, consisting of tuition, fees, room and board.

“Special financial-aid initiatives for students from families with incomes below $75,000, including free tuition and no loans, ensure that a Dartmouth education is truly accessible to all students, regardless of their families’ ability to pay,” Laskaris said in the statement.

Last year, Dartmouth admitted 12 percent of applicants. Even with low admission rates, students are applying to more of the most-selective colleges because the teenagers feel they have nothing to lose, said Bob Sweeney, a college counselor at Mamaroneck High School in Mamaroneck, New York. The Common Application, a form that can be submitted to multiple schools, makes the process easier.

Losing Sight

“The students see themselves in the context of their own school as being successful, and strong students will at least say ‘I’m going to try,’” Sweeney, a counselor for 24 years, said today in a telephone interview. “They don’t want to go through life wondering. They lose sight of the fact of just how competitive it is.”

About 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students attend Dartmouth, a member of the Ivy League of eight universities in the northeastern U.S.

Dartmouth, founded in 1769, counts among its alumni U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., and Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer of Fairfield, Connecticut-based General Electric Co.

Undergraduate applications to the University of Chicago surged 43 percent last year, after the college conducted a marketing campaign, increasing mailings that emphasized arts opportunities and access to scientific research. This year’s growth also is attributed to a new focus on having alumni promote the school, said James Nondorf, vice president and dean of college admissions and financial aid.

Love for Institution

“Our admissions efforts are fueled by current students and alumni who are steeped in the university’s traditions and genuinely love the institution,” Nondorf said in the university’s statement.

About 15,000 students, including 5,100 undergraduates, attend the university, located on the city of Chicago’s south side.

Alumni of the institution, founded in 1890, include the novelist Philip Roth and Jon Corzine, former governor of New Jersey and now chairman and chief executive officer of New York- based MF Global Holdings Ltd. President Barack Obama taught constitutional law at the university.

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, a member of the Ivy League, had an all-time high of 30,800 applications, the university said on Jan. 6. Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge; and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, also announced record numbers of undergraduate applications, according to statements this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janet Lorin in New York jlorin@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at jkaufman17@bloomberg.net.

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