Published On Monday, March 03, 2008 1:57 AM
By LINGBO LI
Crimson Staff Writer
After setting a new bar for rejection last spring, the College is slated to send small envelopes to even more high school seniors this year. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 announced last week that Harvard will be accepting fewer applicants than in previous years, even after receiving a record number of applications. According to Fitzsimmons, the College’s decision to eliminate its early action program this year and the recent expansion of its financial aid program make this year’s yield—the percentage of admitted students who matriculate—hard to predict. The more conservative acceptance rate is an effort to ensure that the College does not admit more students than it can accommodate. “We do not want to have overcrowding in the yard,” Fitzsimmons said. “We know that some Houses are very crowded. We will be very cautious.” Fitzsimmons said he did not know exactly how many fewer students would be admitted, though he said the decrease would be “not insignificant.” The admissions office may take more students off the waiting list than usual if the yield is lower than expected, Fitzsimmons added. The class of 2012 will be the first to matriculate under Harvard’s new financial aid program that will cut the cost of attending the College for families who make between $120,000 and $180,000 to 10 percent of total income. Fitzsimmons said that the new initiative would probably boost yield, though he added that the effect might be muted now that Yale, Stanford, and Brown have rolled out similar programs. In addition, this year is the first in which applicants have not had the opportunity to apply early to Harvard. Fitzsimmons said that the single-deadline program could depress the yield if more students choose competing schools that still have an early program. Harvard’s peers saw an increase in early applicants after Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia eliminated their early admissions programs. Yale’s early applicant pool swelled 38 percent, and Dartmouth had a record number of early applicants, according to Hernandez College Consulting. Even without the decrease in admissions, the Class of 2012 was set to be the most selective in Harvard history. Applications for regular admission to the College ballooned over 18 percent this year, meaning that even if the normal number of applicants were accepted, the admission rate could have dipped as low as 7.7 percent, down from 9.1 percent last year.