Admissions Heads Say Rise in College Costs Causes Applications Dip
Applications for admission to Harvard and Radcliffe declined by about six per cent this year-the first time in several years that applications have not risen.
Harvard received applications from 7979 students this year, a decline from 8536 last year. Radcliffe applications went down from 2723 last year to 2538 this year.
Acceptance letters to 1450 prospective members of the Harvard class of 1974 were mailed out last Friday. Harvard accepted 114 blacks for the class, as compared to 109 for the Class of 1973. Radcliffe's acceptance of blacks rose slightly, from 51 last year to 54 this year.
Both Harvard and Radcliffe administrations officials cited rising costs of going to the colleges as one of the principal reasons for the decline in applications "As state universities get better and better, parents have a hard time trying to justify sending their son or daughter to Harvard or Radcliffe when their children could attend a state university for half the price," commented David K. Smith '58, director of admissions at Radcliffe.
Smith and Chase N. Peterson '52, Harvard dean of Admissions and Financial Aids, said that if costs continued to rise, the colleges' student bodies would consist of only two groups: the very rich who could afford to pay for a Harvard education and the very poor who would be eligible to receive financial aid for it.
"The middle class will be slowly squeezed out." Smith said. Though Peterson agreed, he added that Harvard's smaller size-as compared to most state universities-could help to attract continued applications from middle class students.
Applications to Harvard from Midwest and Western students "declined appreciably," Peterson said, but more students from the East applied to the College.
"Though the number of applicants from distant parts of the country is down, I am not too concerned because the quality of those students who did apply from these areas was the highest in our pool of applicants," he said.
Smith said he had not noticed a decline in Radeliffe applications from any particular area: "It was an across the board decrease, not centered in the West, South or the Midwest."
The increased attractiveness of newly coed schools helped decrease applications to Radcliffe, Smith said. "Girls now have greater opportunities to attend first rate universities such as Yale. Princeton, Trinity, and Williams, and are taking advantage of them. The fact is that these schools and Radcliffe draw upon the same market." he said.
The notoriety of last year's upheaval at Harvard was partly responsible for the applications drop. Peterson said. "There's no doubt the events of last April scared away many parents," he said.