Tuesday, May 13, 2008

200 Taken Off Waitlist at Harvard

Published On Tuesday, May 13, 2008 2:38 AM
By LINGBO LI Crimson Staff Writer

More than 200 high school seniors stuck on Harvard’s waitlist will receive another letter from the admissions office—this time with better news. With the yield for the Class of 2012 projected at 76 percent—lower than the initially reported 78 percent—Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said that the admissions office will be taking more than the originally reported 150 to 175 students off the waitlist this year. Last year, Harvard accepted approximately 50 students off the waitlist. In an interview with The Crimson last week, Fitzsimmons, who has seen over three decades of admitted classes, described this admissions cycle as the “most unusual and most unpredictable in my admissions career.” The incoming freshmen were the first admitted after Harvard abandoned early admissions this year, as well as drastically slashed tuition for upper-middle-income families under a new financial aid policy. It was also the College’s most competitive year yet, with an acceptance rate of only 7.1 percent of a record 27,462 applicants. Last year’s admissions rate was just below 9 percent. The two dramatic changes in early admissions and financial aid meant that last year’s yield equations were rendered obsolete, the admissions office said. To avoid overcrowding the freshman class, 110 fewer students were admitted this year. Fitzsimmons pointed to overcrowding as a major source of stress. In addition to making changes to early admission and financial aid, the College announced it would not be accepting transfer students for the next two years, despite receiving more than 1,300 applications for transfer admission. Fitzsimmons said that with the scrapping of Harvard’s early action came the danger of students admitted to competing institutions “being recruited, wined Following the University’s announcement of its generous new financial aid policy, in which families making under $60,000 pay nothing and families making between $120,000 and $180,000 pay only ten percent, other schools, such as Yale, responded by expanding their own financial aid programs. Other peer institutions also sweetened their aid packages by cutting loans and expanding funding. “All the changes [at other schools] could well have rendered the financial aid factor a bit of a wash,” Fitzsimmons said. While Harvard and Princeton dropped early admissions this year, Yale and Stanford maintained their early programs. In an interview last week, Fitzsimmons said he initially calculated that dropping early admissions would lower Harvard’s yield by as much as seven points. He said that he expects to have lost more students in the admissions battle between Yale and Harvard this year, due to Yale’s decision to keep its early action program. Yale’s yield remained steady at 69 percent. But having averted their primary concern of overcrowding the freshman class, Fitzsimmons said his colleagues are breathing “an incredibly loud sigh of relief.” He added that the admissions office will be able to “make a lot of people happy in the month of June.”

—Staff writer Lingbo Li can be reached at lingboli@fas.harvard.edu.

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