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Eighty applicants accepted by the Law School this year will be given the opportunity to defer admission for up to two years.
A letter asking applicants to "think seriously about pursuing some activity for a year or two before attending Harvard Law School" will be sent to one fifth of the first 400 students that are accepted whose records show that they have not taken a year off during high school or college.
Russel A. Simpson, Director of Admissions at the Law School, said that the program is presently just an experiment, and that students to be offered the option were chosen at random.
"It's our observation that those who are not shot through school tend to get more out of it, and are happier," Simpson said.
Simpson said that the results of this experimental project will be used to determine whether all students are given the option of deferring admission next year.
"If only a small group takes the option then we can probably provide it for everyone," he said. Simpson also said that what people did in their free time would be examined in evaluating the program.
"We're afraid that because of the competition to get into law school, many students feel pressured to apply during their senior year in college."
This year there have been over 7000 applicants for less than 800 places in the Law School's next class. The number of applicants is about the same as last year, but is nearly double what it was three years ago.
Neither the Business School nor the Medical School offer students the option to delay admission. However, those who are offered admission and refuse it are usually accepted when they reapply.
The Business School received 3800 applications last year--about 400 less than the year before--and admitted a class of 780. The Medical School received abou 3000 applications last year for 140 places. This was nearly twice the number of applications received the previous year.
Eileen D. Morley, an associate in administration for careers, said yesterday that the Business School had begun a pilot program to admit women on a deferred basis. She said that it was difficult for women to get the business experience required for success in the school's program, and that this program would give women a chance to gain such practical experience. Only five women will be accepted on a deferred basis this year, she said.
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not offer applicants the option to defer admission. The competition for places in each department varies greatly from year to year, and therefore acceptance one year gives little indication of ones chances for acceptance at a later time.
Harvard and Radcliffe have offered students the option of deferred admission for several years. Of the 1200 admitted to Harvard last year, about 200 decided to take a year off. Radcliffe allowed about 20 women of 330 to delay admission for a year.
Simpson said the Law School almost always accepts students who reapply within three or four years after they are originally accepted. However, in answer to a written inquiry last week, the admissions office of the Law School wrote, "Being accepted for one year at Harvard Law School in no way assures you of acceptance in a future year."
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