The 2,058 students offered a spot in the Harvard College Class of 2011—some told in December, but most in the coming days—constitute the most socioeconomically and racially diverse class ever accepted to Harvard, according to figures released today by the Harvard College Admissions Office.
The accepted students were drawn from a record pool of 22,955 applicants. That makes this year’s application process the most competitive Harvard has seen, with less than nine percent of hopeful students being offered a space in next year’s freshman class. Last year, 9.3 percent of applicants to the Class of 2010 were accepted.
But Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 stressed that he believed the increased diversity of the incoming class—not its competitiveness—is the class’s most significant attribute.
While the percentage of female admits fell by about one percent to 50.5 percent, slight increases set record highs for African American, Asian American, Latino, and Native American students. The pool of accepted students is 10.7 percent African American, 19.6 percent Asian American, 10.1 percent Latino, and 1.5 percent Native American, according to the admissions office.
Admission of foreign nationals rose above last year’s 8.7 percent, coming in at 9.1 percent this year. In total, foreign citizens, students with dual citizenship with the U.S. and another country, and U.S. permanent residents constitute approximately 19 percent of the admitted class, about the same as last year. The geographic distribution of students accepted from within the United States also remained similar to previous years.
In a phone interview, Fitzsimmons attributed the increasing diversity of the accepted class to the success of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI) and minority recruitment efforts.
The admissions office estimates that 26 percent of the admitted students will be eligible for HFAI, a program that waives the parental contribution to tuition for families earning less than $60,000 a year and significantly lowers the expected parental contribution for families earning between $60,000 and $80,000 a year. Since HFAI was put in place three years ago, the number of accepted students from families with incomes under $60,000 has increased by 34 percent, according to the admissions office.
“The response to the new Harvard Financial Aid Initiative has been beyond our wildest expectations,” Fitzsimmons said yesterday. “There’s often an immediate effect…but now it has really been sustained through a number of classes—that is really promising.”
Fitzsimmons added that the admissions office’s expanded recruiting efforts—such as traveling information programs, the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program, and alumni involvement in recruitment—have been greatly helped by the College’s financial aid offerings.
“The fact that we can talk about new financial aid offerings creates a generally welcoming message,” he said.
The test scores and relative academic achievements for the students accepted to the Class of 2011 were consistent with previous years.
“We have a class that is the most diverse ever, and academic credentials are just as they were last year,” Fitzsimmons said. “There’s always a negative correlation between socioeconomic background and access to education for high test scores—but we have been able to keep standards right where they were.”
Academic interests for the entering class have shifted slightly, according to the new figures. Interest in engineering as well as related fields such as mathematics and computer science has increased, as has interest in the biological sciences. The number of accepted students interested in concentrating in the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences decreased slightly.
The College plans to have its annual visiting program for admitted students from April 21 to 23. Until then, accepted students have access to online chat sessions and message boards to get in touch with potential classmates. Students have until May 1 to accept or reject their offer from Harvard.
—Staff writer Aditi Balakrishna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.