At one minute past midnight this Saturday, envelopes bearing the Harvard admissions office's seal of approval began their journey to the homes of 898 anxious high school students.
Faced with a deluge of qualified applicants this year--18,691--admissions officials said they were forced to turn away a record number of potential Harvardians, leading to the College's lowest rate of acceptance ever.
When acceptance decisions from the Early Action pool are factored in, Harvard admitted 2,035 students, or just 10.9 percent of those who applied.
"The academic strength of the pool is extraordinary," said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67. "The pools have been getting larger and the quality of the pool has been getting better."
13,865 students applied for the Class of 1997, admitted in 1993, while 18,161 applied last year. Nearly 3,000 of this year's applicants were valedictorians of their high school classes, while 56 percent scored 1400 or higher on the SATs.
Fitzsimmons said the admissions office spent "an enormous amount of time" making its decisions.
"In some cases, we spent over an hour in full committee on single individuals," Fitzsimmons said. "We know the candidates very well. We think there are some absolutely first-rate people who are on the wait-list and some really great people who did not get admitted."
As they have done for years, the admissions office has released a detailed picture of the racial and geographic composition of the accepted applicants.
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