How to Get Into Dalton School: Admissions Guide

Cardinal Education knows how to make you stand out in the Dalton School admissions process.

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Founded by Helen Parkhurst in 1919, The Dalton School has an educational structure based on the three components of the Dalton Plan—House, Assignment, and Laboratory. This plan is implemented by Dalton students as soon as they step foot inside the school or as early as the First Program (K-3rd grade). Children are given the chance to choose their educational path, recognize their interests, and take charge of pursuing them. Students at Dalton learn how to be accountable for their own education over time. 

The House is the home base for students and they are assigned to a House advisor who also acts as the main contact person of the parents with the school. The Assignment provides structured activities that promote the development of time management and organizational skills. The projects increase in scope and difficulty as students move up the ladder. The One-on-one and small group sessions that happen outside of the classroom are referred to as the Laboratory. This gives students the opportunity to explore and pursue topics of interest. 

Students who graduate from Dalton are well-prepared they were for college because they have been taught time management, building relationships with faculty, and taking charge of their own education.

Is it hard to get into Dalton School?

Yes. The school looks to enroll students of good moral character and academic excellence who will be a good fit for the community. Dalton is looking for students with high academic potential who will profit from the institution’s distinctive educational philosophy as it is implemented using the Dalton Plan approach. Combining a demanding curriculum with a committed faculty, each student’s strengths and potential are maximized, and students are encouraged to share their creativity, curiosity, and personal interests with the entire Dalton community. An applicant should demonstrate the ability to handle and be successful with the rigorous curriculum that Dalton offers. 

Dalton School Admissions Process

Students are advised to apply as early as the current fall semester for the following school year as applications are no longer accepted after mid-November. Entry points are Kindergarten, 6th grade, and 9th grade. Applications for other levels are based on available spaces and will be more difficult to get into. 

  1. Submit the preliminary application.
  2. Create an account on Ravenna.
  3. Schedule a tour. 
  4. Schedule a student interview and parent meeting.
  5. Take a standardized test and submit scores. 
  6. Submit supplementary materials
    1. Parent statement
    2. Transcript
    3. Recommendation Letters
    4. Optional Recommendations

Dalton School Application Requirements

Admissions Interview

After submitting the preliminary application, applicants for Middle School (grades 4 through 8), and High School (grades 9 through 12), schedule an interview through Ravenna which begin in October. The personal interview lasts 20 to 30 minutes and involves the student and a faculty member or an admissions officer. The admissions committee and faculty also meet for a small Q&A.

How you carry yourself at the interview is an indicator of how well you will do at Menlo. Yes, they are interested in your academic performance, but they also want to see if you are a good fit for their culture and values. Your history, experiences, interests, and ambitions, as well as the factors influencing your decision to attend Dalton School, will be discussed. You should be honest and authentic in your responses. Personal anecdotes are very beneficial since they reveal information about you that is not contained in your application. Our interview preparation will help you gain confidence and answer questions meaningfully. Our admissions consultants know what interview questions will be asked and how to answer them. We have helped many students get into Dalton by giving them the differentiation they need to stand out from other applicants. 

Standardized Test

Middle School and High School applicants are required to submit either SSAT or ISEE scores taken in the last year. Test scores show proof of a student’s academic level, as well as analytical and reasoning skills. Impressive test scores will differentiate an applicant from others who have the same GPA and academic grades. 

Our expert tutors and coaches at Cardinal Education work with students to develop the study skills and test-taking strategies they need to get into Dalton. We have dedicated tutors who provide assistance in test preparation through the ISEE practice test and SSAT practice test, whichever you decide to take. We advise that you start your test prep early to increase your chances of obtaining the best possible scores that will outshine those of the other applicants.

Letters of Recommendation

Delegate recommendation letters to your child’s guidance counselor or school administrator, English teacher, and math teacher from the current or previous year through Ravenna. Additionally, you may request supplementary recommendation letters from another teacher, coach, trainer, or mentor who has worked closely with your child.  

Because they provide the admissions committee with a distinctive viewpoint on the applicant’s academic prowess, character traits, and likelihood of success, letters of recommendation are a crucial component of the admissions process. The best resources are teachers and counselors since they know your child very well.  Our admissions consultants can advise you on how to plan for glowing recommendation letters that will emphasize your advantages and draw admissions officers’ attention. 


Applicants are required to submit report cards or transcripts of grades from the previous year as well as the first semester of the current school year.

Transcripts are written records that show the academic performance of a student as well as the potential to succeed in the Dalton curriculum. If your child’s grades are far from impressing admissions officers, consider tutoring and academic coaching to help boost grades for a more attractive profile. Our one-on-one tutoring sessions aid in the academic skill development of your child for more efficient learning. Our tutors have completed extensive training and are subject matter experts in the subjects they teach, ensuring that your child’s potential is unlocked and maximized.

Essay/Parent Statement

A writing sample and a parent statement are required of all applicants. Writing samples, personal statements, and parent statements allows admissions officers to get to know about your hopes and future goals as a family. It is essential that you take time to write these writing samples and essays to ensure that these are aligned with those of the school. Our educational consultants provide the essay help families and students need to draft an inspirational piece for the admissions committee. The holistic approach by which our admissions consulting is founded, allows us to know students and families intimately so we know their passions, strengths, and weaknesses. As such, we are able to help them identify which aspects of their lives are worth sharing that will align with their values of Dalton. We value honesty and authenticity, so nothing that is stated in the essays is untrue.  

Dalton School Famous Alumni

  • Anderson Cooper- American journalist and political commentator
  • Andrew Zimmern- American chef, restaurateur, television and radio personality, director, producer, businessman, food critic, and author
  • Tracy Pollan- American actress
  • Mark Feuerstein- Actor, writer, producer, and director
  • Tracee Ellis Ross- American actress 
  • Ronnie Abrams- US District Judge for Southern District of NY
  • Alexis Glick- American journalist and television personality
  • Laura Geller- American rabbi of Temple Emanuel
  • Chevy Chase- American comedian and actor
  • Maxim Dlugy- Russian-American chess player with FIDE title of Grandmaster

Student Life at Dalton 

Dalton offers its students a wide range of fascinating extracurricular activities, top-notch performing and fine arts programs, and teachers who are authorities in their fields. Students can participate in a variety of sports and extracurricular activities to hone their talents. Students are kept busy at the Dalton Summer Camp with enjoyable activities that pique and widen their interests in the world. 

Dalton School Academics

The Dalton School provides students with The New Lab for Teaching and Learning (NLTL) to explore technology, the Performing Arts Center, the Martin Theater, and extensive dance, visual, and media arts studios where students can explore their creative side. Students are also offered the notable Creative Writing Program that encourages them to get involved in the world of writing by submitting their writing to Blue Flag, the school’s literary magazine, and sharing their work at public readings. The program offers an introductory course, Advanced Workshops that focus on craft and technique, and a Senior Thesis Workshop.

Dalton School Athletics

There are 16 sports to choose from at Dalton including, cross country, flag football, football, soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, indoor track, squash, swimming, wrestling, baseball, lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track & field. Dalton has a 32,000 sq. ft. Center for PE classes and team practices, with a spin room, wrestling & aerobics room, and a weight & fitness center.

Dalton School Activities

Dalton offers an extensive list of activities for students to get involved in, including 130+ clubs like the Human Rights Club, The Annual Poetry Reading, the HEROES Program, 10 robotics teams, and 5+ student publications. 

Dalton School Arts

With 6 creative writing electives, 45+ arts electives, arts floors with dance and art studios for students to flourish, and a school theater for performances, dance shows, candle lighting, and commemoration at the end of the year, students are not left wanting at Dalton. There is an art program or elective for every student. 

Did You Know?

Spanish, chess, PE, engineering, science, music, and art are taught starting in Kindergarten.

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