If the Radcliffe Class of '68 leaves more high heel marks than loafer tracks in the Cambridge pavement, the cause may not have anything to do with the fashion industry but rather with the Admissions Committee.
Last Spring this group of selectors reversed a trend of least the past eight years, and substantially lowered the percentage of the class which comes from public high schools. At the same time they chose more prep school girls, more girls from New England, and more alumnae's children.
Public school girls make up 58 per cent of the Class of '68, and private school girls 40 per cent, (while the year before the difference was a thicker 66 to 30).
But the direction of change, rather than the absolute numbers, is what is significant. The percentage of public school graduates had been growing steadily for several years, with the biggest jumps occurring after the arrival of President Bunting in 1961. "Pubbies" in the Class of '62 were only 49 per cent, they swelled to 53 per cent of the Class of '65, and vaulted to an all time high of 66 per cent in the present sophomore class. Only this year did they fall.
And conversely, the last six classes saw private school girls dropping gradually from 49 to 30 per cent. Only this year did they rise.
With the decrease in prep school girls there followed a decrease in New Englanders. Between the classes of '62 and '67 the percentage drooped slowly but surely from 35 per cent to 23 per cent. Only this year, concommitant with the fall of high school girls and rise of prep school girls, did the number of New England Cliffies climb once more to 30 per cent.
And for the first time in the Class of '68, the Admission Office noticed an abundance of girls with Harvard fathers and Radcliffe mothers (71 of the former and 30 of the latter). Never before have they commented on this phenomenon.
Hence, perhaps for the sake of dewonkification, perhaps for mere openended experiment, the Radcliffe admissions office seems to have molded the the Class of '68 along new contours. However, any speculation on the subject must forever go unaided by the Admissions Committee themselves, for they take the position that the change is "accidental."
"We never consider the percentage of public and private school girls before the entire class has been selected," they have declared, maintaining that they accept girls purely on individual merits.
In view of this, one can only marvel at how consistent the changes in this percentage have been every year.