Admit Rate Expected to Approach 6 Percent

With a 15 percent spike in applications this year, the admissions rate to the College is poised to decrease to around 6 percent for the class of 2015, but Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said he believes it is unlikely that the College will experience another major increase in its number of applicants.

Citing the decreasing number of high school seniors and discouragingly low admission rates, Fitzsimmons said that “we may be reaching the end of these kinds of large scale increases”, such as the 5,000 more applications received between the admissions cycles for the classes of 2014 and 2015.

But admissions experts outside of the College disagree, saying that the ease with which students can submit college applications—through services like the Common Application, for example—will only continue to buttress the number of applicants to elite universities.

“I don’t see the 7 percent number as a sacred number,” said Washington D.C.-based private admissions consultant Steven R. Goodman, who said he believes that college admissions rates could continue to decrease and remain far below that percentage.

Don McMillan, president of the educational consulting firm Howland, Spence, & McMillan, said he believes that the Common Application—which allows students to apply to multiple colleges through a centralized, online form—is a major factor in the growth in college applications.

“The main thing that is keeping kids from increasing the number of applications from 6 to 11 is the supplement,” he said. “One way [colleges] will be able to moderate [the increase in applications] is by requiring additional supplementary essays or campus visits.”

While he said he believes it is too early speculate on the acceptance rate, Fitzsimmons said that the target class size remains the same for the class of 2015 as it did for 2014 and that the number admitted would probably not be “terribly dissimilar” from last year.

“We still have the same number of beds that we had before,” he said.

A lower acceptance rate is the logical result of more applications, according to University of Chicago spokesperson Jeremy Manier.

“It’s difficult to say exactly what the acceptance rate will be, but it’s safe to say that it will be lower than last year’s,” Manier said in reference to U. Chicago’s admissions rate. Like Harvard, U. Chicago has seen a similar upward trend in applications over the past few years.

The College received approximately 35,000 applications for the class of 2015 compared with approximately 30,000 the previous year. This dramatic increase follows the broader trend seen over the past decade, with the number of applications submitted increasing by approximately 15,000 since 2001.

Harvard’s acceptance rate has also declined, with a record-low of 6.9 percent for the class of 2014.

—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at jworland@college.harvard.edu.

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