Black high school students no longer seem quite so anxious to further their academic careers at Harvard.
While the overall number of applicants to Harvard and Radcliffe rose this year, the number of black applicants fell by about 20 per cent.
The decline, however, will probably not upset the black-white ratio here. L. Fred Jewett '57, dean of Admissions and Financial Aids, said earlier this week that Harvard will not decrease the number of black students accpeted. There are 80 blacks in the Class of 1976.
Explanations for the drop off eluded College admissions officers.
Jewett suggested that a small percentage of the drop off might be the result of less enthusiastic recruiting by Harvard blacks and alumni.
Radcliffe admissions officers attributed the decline to the general financial squeeze plaguing the nation.
However, the squeeze does not seem to have affected other minority groups in low income brackets. The number of Puerto Rican and Mexican students applying to Harvard rose substantially this year.
Princeton, Boston University and other elite schools have reported a similar decline in the number of black applicants this year.
Admissions officers at Princeton last week attributed the drop off to more selective college counseling at the high school level. They saw quality rise as quantity fell.
To remedy the decline, Jewert suggested a careful investigation of where the drop off occurred and how actively students and alumni around the country recruited applicants.
One solution that will not be implemented is increased financial aid. Jewett explained that under College admissions policy, financial aid is only granted on the basis of need.
Black students at Harvard have their own explanations for the drop off. Several said that many parents don't want to send their children to Harvard because of the "trouble" here during the past few years.
To make up for the dwindling applications pool, Harvard will kick off an all-out campaign this year to make sure that those blacks whom Harvard accepts, accept Harvard.