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Harvard will send admissions letters to fewer applicants this spring in an attempt to insure that the Class of '84 is not as large as this year's record freshman class, admissions officials announced yesterday.
"At the moment our estimate is that we'll be sending out 100 fewer letters this year than last," L. Fred Jewett '57, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, said.
The decision came after an unexpectedly high percentage of students admitted to the Class of '83 decided to attend the University. Last year 50 to 60 more students than anticipated accepted admission, swamping University officials and leaving them with problems of accommodating an overcrowded class, Jewett said.
"It's problematic. You try to gauge the popularity of the college," he said, adding, "Wait lists provide a protection for guessing wrong on the low side. The problem is you have no such protection on the other side."
William R. Fitzsimmons '67, director of admissions, called the decision "eminently sensible."
A surprisingly high number of students applied early action to Harvard despite new regulations limiting students to only one such application to an Ivy League school, proving the college's popularity, Fitzsimmons added.
The admissions office already has received over 13,700 applications, compared with 13,050 last year, Fitzsimmons said. The total will probably rise as applications from foreign students continue to arrive, he added.
Harvard's yield, the percentage of students admitted who actually enroll in the school, usually falls somewhere between 73 and 74 per cent. Last year's yield was 74.8 per cent, a 1.6 per cent increase over the previous class, Fitzsimmons said.
Jewett said that changes in admissions policies would accompany the reduction in acceptance letters. "We'll certainly try very hard to make sure the increase doesn't come out of any one applicant group," he said. "It will just become that much more competitive," he added.
Henry C. Moses, Dean of Freshmen, said he welcomed the change. "I think it's a very good thing to try and prevent the kind of surprise increase in freshmen that we had last year. I look forward to having the Yard a little less crowded next year."
"There is every indication that this will be the most rigorous decision-making period we've had yet," Fitzsimmons said, adding "Not only are we accepting fewer students out of more applicants, but the quality is very high."
"We can all be thankful that we're not applying this year," Fitzsimmons said.
"You can imagine how easy it was to get in here 10 or 15 years ago," he added.
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