Harvard College notified 16.5 percent of the 5,919 students who applied to the Class of 2019 under the early action program of their acceptances Thursday, marking the lowest admissions rate in the last six early action cycles.
This year’s number of applicants signifies a roughly 26 percent increase from the 4,692 applicants who applied early last year. Early admissions rates for the classes of 2018, 2017, and 2016 were 21.1, 18.2, and 18.3 percent, respectively. Regular admissions was the only option for applicants to the classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Among those early applicants who were not offered admission Thursday, the majority, 4,292, were deferred to the regular decision process, 541 were denied admission, 19 withdrew, and 90 submitted incomplete applications.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said in an interview Thursday that increased online presence of the Admissions Office—including a new website, videos, and social media through the outreach initiative Harvard College Connection—could have contributed to the increase in the number of applicants.
This year’s early admissions pool shows slight increases in the percentages of minority students. Of those admitted early to the Class of 2019, 22.7 percent are Asian American, 10.3 percent are African American, 11.4 percent are Latino, 1.2 percent are Native American, and .3 percent are Native Hawaiians, compared to 21, 9.9, 10.5, .9, and .2 percent figures, respectively, last year.
Of the admitted students, 49.7 percent were women, compared to an overall admitted pool that was about 45 percent female last year.
“We trust that recruiting efforts for women through [Harvard College Connection] and other outreach had a significant effect,” Director of Admissions Marlyn E. McGrath '70 said in a press release.
Fitzsimmons said that academic interests among admitted students were generally similar to those of students admitted last year. The number of students indicating a potential humanities concentration was 15 percent of the total admit pool, compared to 14 percent last year. Twenty-eight percent of students expressed interest in the social sciences, compared to last year’s figure of just 23.5 percent. The number of students declaring undecided declined from 12.2 percent last year to 8.5 percent this year. Computer science also saw an increased number of potential concentrators from 3.7 percent last year to 5.1 percent this year.
“We attribute [the increased interest in computer science] to the incredible popularity of [Computer Science 50: "Introduction to Computer Science I"]. That has really been in the news a great deal,” Fitzsimmons said, adding that Steven A. Ballmer’s recent gift could also play into the larger number of students interested in computer science.
Fitzsimmons declined to provide the number of legacy students who applied or were admitted early, saying that it might give the wrong impressions about the overall class, focusing too much on early admissions rather than on who ultimately attends the College. He said, however, he would share the number of legacy students in the Class of 2019 with The Crimson after regular admissions decisions are sent and students accept their offers.
The Crimson was granted early access to admissions figures and an interview with Fitzsimmons under the condition that it not publish the story until Friday morning. Anna Cowenhoven, a spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, sat in on the interview.
—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @trdelwic.