Diverse Applicants for a Diverse Class

With more students applying to the College, we urge Harvard to accept a class reflective of the diverse applicant pool.

In the wake of Harvard College's recent announcement that it had, for the third time in a row, set a record for the number of applications received, we urge the College to accept a class that is reflective of the size and diversity of this applicant pool. Admissions officers should prioritize the creation of an educational experience involving a multitude of perspectives.

Harvard’s new applicant pool represents an increased interest in fields such as the humanities, computer science, and theater, but it more importantly shows the promise of increased representation of minority students. The number of Asian American, Latino, African American, Native American, and Native Hawaiian applicants has increased since last year’s application term. The number of women applying to the College has also increased by 2.5 percent. While the College continues to accept a record-low proportion of applicants, the decrease in Harvard’s admissions rate speaks to the reduced barriers in applying to this institution rather than its exclusivity.

We commend Harvard’s outreach efforts to students of low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds in recent years and encourage the Admissions Office to continue their efforts. First established in 2004, Harvard Financial Aid Initiative has made notable strides in making Harvard affordable for families from all rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. Currently, if a family earns less than $65,000 per year, the parents pay nothing towards Harvard’s tuition. The newly announced “start-up” grant, which provides $2,000 to incoming freshmen of such backgrounds, has aided the transition for about one in five freshmen in the Class of 2020. Similarly, the Admissions Office’s Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program annually spreads awareness about the Harvard experience to minority middle and high school students across the country. Harvard’s dedication to reducing economic and social barriers has made an impact on prospective applicants as it continues to open up its gates to a wider range of students than ever before.

In addition to the College’s efforts to recruit students from a variety of socioeconomic and minority backgrounds, Harvard’s continued commitment to accepting international and undocumented students is also commendable, especially considering the current political climate. President Donald Trump’s recent immigration ban and his harsh stance against undocumented immigrants has already prompted unrest from students on campus, and administrators have continued to respond to these pressing situations. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 added to this support when he formally acknowledged the Admissions Office’s pursuit of exceptional students regardless of citizenship status. The College’s continued acceptance of such students in this application cycle despite the current administration’s stance on these issues demonstrates Harvard's dedication to opening its gates to a true diversity of backgrounds.

It is not enough, however, to simply have a diverse applicant pool if the College does not take the next steps to translate its rich source of talent into a diverse Class of 2021. We hope to see the College’s efforts to recruit a wider range of applicants manifest itself once acceptances are released at the end of this application cycle. The Harvard experience thrives on diversity of thought, identity, and experiences. The College must continue to enrich this experience in the coming years.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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