Despite Cancellation of Visitas, Yield for Class of 2017 Hits 44-Year High

Eighty-two percent of students accepted into Harvard’s class of 2017 have decided to attend Harvard—the highest yield in 44 years. The record yield comes despite the College’s cancellation of its Visitas program for admitted students in the aftermath of a security lockdown in the Greater Boston area.

According to a University press release, this year’s record yield means that all spots in the class of 2017 have been taken, although a “small number” of students may be accepted off of the waiting list later this month or in June.

In an interview with The Crimson, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 affirmed his commitment to bringing back the admitted students’ program, although he said his office reevaluated Visitas after observing the yield increase.

“It would be easy for people to perhaps wrongly conclude that Harvard cares less about its admitted students than the other institutions,” he said, explaining that canceling Visitas could send the wrong message to prospective students.

“In a way, our visiting program has become industry standard,” Fitzsimmons said.

This year’s Visitas program, which was scheduled to take place the weekend of April 20, was canceled after a massive manhunt for one of two marathon bombing suspects shut down Cambridge and the greater Boston area.

Fitzsimmons praised the Harvard community for coming together to talk to admitted students in the aftermath of the cancellation.

He said he believed that despite the sorrow and grief, tragedy “brought out the truth about how deeply Harvard students feel about their institution in a way that’s unprecedented.”

Students and faculty alike contributed to different social media outlets to present YouTube videos of dorms and welcome videos to prospective students. To replace the canceled panels, the Admissions Office also organized Google+ student panels where students discussed experiences, perspectives, and advice.

“The dedication, the creativity of the student body, and just the sheer inventiveness really, was very, very much on display,” Fitzsimmons said of student and faculty efforts to ensure that accepted students were still able to get an idea of Harvard life.

The unique circumstances of the week demonstrated that “an interesting combination of head and heart” gave prospective students “a much clearer sense of the soul of the institution,” Fitzsimmons said.

The “unscripted” and “unguarded” nature of the videos and telephone discussions was “much more from the heart, much more real than any sort of scripted video or really any kind of programmatic kind of event,” he continued.

—Staff writer Zohra D. Yaqhubi can be reached at zyaqhubi@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @zohradyaqhubi.

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