Harvard Accepts 18 Percent of Early Admission Applicants

Harvard College accepted about 18 percent of early applicants to the Class of 2017 under its early admission program, the University announced Thursday. This year’s 895 early acceptances mark a 16 percent increase over the number of early admittances last year.

This year’s accepted students—the second group to be admitted early since the University reinstated the early action program in 2011—were selected from an early applicant pool of 4,856, which represented a 14 percent increase over the number of early applications received by the admissions office the previous year.

The proportion of students admitted early rose less than a percentage point from last year’s rate. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said the increase in the number of students applying and being admitted early may reflect a general shift in how students apply to college.

Since Princeton and the University of Virginia renewed their early action programs alongside Harvard in 2011, many of Harvard’s most highly regarded peer institutions now offer some form of early admissions. Students no longer need to wait for the regular admissions cycle to apply to their first-choice college.

“I think we’ve reached a point that this is the way people are applying to college,” Fitzsimmons said.

Students admitted early to Harvard this year are those who admissions officers were confident would be accepted during the regular decision cycle, he said.

“Our feeling is that we’re just admitting the same people under slightly different time table,” he said. Fitzsimmsons added that he thinks this year's total number of acceptances was conservative, given the high quality of the applicants.

Harvard’s early admission program is non-binding. Students have until May 1 to accept their spot and may apply to other colleges with a regular decision cycle.

Despite this trend towards applying early, Fitzsimmons said he hopes high school seniors consider their college choices carefully.

“People should, we hope, take the whole senior year to make up their mind about where they go,” he said. “We hope that we’ve at least afforded the opportunity for counselors and parents and the public to really think about that it might not be the best thing to rush into making a college choice.

The admissions office deferred 3,196 students, who will be considered alongside regular decision candidates, and denied 651.

Although the Admissions Office admitted a larger proportion of the Class of 2017 under early action, Fitzsimmons said that students applying under the regular admissions cycle will not be at a disadvantage.

“We take great pains to say to people that we are not going to make a different decision on your application based on whether or not you apply early or regular,” he said.

Fitzsimmons said that last year the Admissions Office ultimately admitted about 100 students who had been deferred from the early cycle. He said this will likely be the case again.

Emails containing admissions decisions were sent to students at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday.

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