Sunday, April 5, 2009

Harvard Admits Record-Low 7 Percent for the Class of 2013

This afternoon, a record-low 7 percent of Harvard College applicants will receive e-mails welcoming them into the incoming freshman class.

Out of the 29,112 students who applied this year, only 2,046 students will be offered admission, down from 7.9 percent last year.

“I say this every year so I lack credibility even with myself, but I think it’s the best class we’ve admitted, with the exception of the class of 1967,” said Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons ’67.

This year’s 6 percent increase in applicants has made admissions more competitive than ever, he said.

But, ninety eight more students will be offered spots today, compared to the 1,948 students offered spots a year ago.

“Last year there was so much uncertainty without early admissions and with the new financial aid policy, we were in totally uncharted waters,” said Fitzsimmons. “This year there are fewer variables...but we still wanted to be very conservative.”

Slightly more than half of the admitted class is male.

A record 10.9 percent of admitted students are Latino (up over one percent from last year), 10.8 percent are African American, 17.6 percent are Asian American, and 1.3 percent of Native American.

According to the admissions office, geographic representation and students’ academic interests remained very similar to last year.

The admitted class of 2013 comes from a record 82 countries.

International diversity has been steadily rising over the past five to 10 years because of increased international recruiting travel and global publicity for Harvard’s middle income initiative, Fitzsimmons said. But expected budget cuts will limit international recruiting travel next year.

Seventy percent of Harvard students will receive need-based financial aid next year, with the admissions office projecting $147 million in financial aid expenditures.

“The fact that we are in the middle of an unprecedented economic downturn could produce some very interesting effects [on the yield],” said Fitzsimmons. “Sometimes people might feel it’s better to stay close to home, even if financial aid is very good.”

According to Fitzsimmons, the College’s yield, or the percentage of admitted students who enroll, has been between 76 and 78 percent in recent history.

This year, Fitzsimmons said, the admissions office has been conservative with acceptances, covering the College in the case of up to an 81 percent yield.

The conservative number of admitted students means that it should be another good year for wait-listed students, said Fitzsimmons.

Last year, the admissions office offered over 200 students on the wait-list spots in the class of 2012.

“Certainly going to the waiting list did not hurt the quality [last year],” Fitzsimmons said. “Quite a few people in the admissions office think that it is no coincidence that the Freshman Dean’s Office has said that this freshman class is the best they have ever had.”

Wait-listed students will start hearing from the admissions office as early as May 8th.

Until then, Fitzsimmons advised students to update the admissions office with any additional accomplishments. “Any new information can be helpful,” he said.

—Staff writer Jillian K. Kushner can be reached at

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