34,295 Apply to Class of 2018, Marking Slight Decrease from Previous Year

Harvard College received 34,295 applications for admission to the Class of 2018, marking a decrease of 728 applications from last year, the University announced Monday afternoon.

Despite the 2 percent decrease in applications for early and regular admission, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said that the number of applications has been largely constant in recent years. He did, however, note that there were slight demographic differences, from race to geographic background, in the type of students applying.

Almost a quarter of applicants—22.7 percent—requested an application-fee waiver, 6.3 percent more than last year, and 10.3 percent more than three years ago.

Fitzsimmons said that the increase in students requesting application-fee waivers is an indicator that more students need financial aid and follows a broader trend in the demographics of college applicants.

“More and more of the students out there require financial aid,” Fitzsimmons said.

The percentage of non-white students applying to Harvard has increased, with the exception of Native Americans, Director of Admissions Marlyn E. McGrath ’70 said in a University press release.

“There were also some geographic shifts, including a 5.8 percent decline in applications from the Midwest, a 5.1 percent decline from New England, and a 3.4 percent decline from international students,” she said.

Fitzsimmons said that the slight decline in applicants from the Midwest and New England was “quite predictable” and part of an ongoing trend in the climate of college applicants.

According to a report created by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education entitled “Knocking at the College Door,” the number of high school seniors has started to decline and is projected to continue to do so for the next 15 years. The report also stated that students from the Midwest and Northeast will apply to college in declining numbers, while those from the South and West will apply in higher numbers.

Fitzsimmons said that the number of applications has reached the “upper limit of what makes sense,” explaining that it would not be concerning if the admissions office were to receive slightly fewer applications, as was the case this year.

“It doesn’t do anyone any good if we, for example, decided to write many more search letters and to up the ante in recruiting and end up with 50,000 applications,” Fitzsimmons said. “We could do it easily. Any college can actually do that.”

Thus far, the College has already accepted 992 students from an early applicant pool of 4,692 people under the restrictive early action program, the largest group to be admitted early since the University reinstated its early action program in 2011.

Three other Ivy League schools released the number of applications to their respective incoming classes last month. Brown University saw 30,320 applications, the second largest number in the university’s history. The University of Pennsylvania received 35,788 applications for the class of 2018, a 14 percent increase from last year. Princeton received 26,607 applications, the highest number of applications since it reinstated its early action program in 2011.

—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at tdelwiche@college.harvard.edu.

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