The plummeting percentage of Black students accepting Harvard's offer of admissions has prompted University officials to reassess the College's current minority recruiting program.
Last year the yield of Black students was down 16 percent, with only 56.7 percent of the accepted 171 students coming to Harvard, David L. Evans, senior admissions official, said last week. He added that this year's unofficial yield of 53.2 percent is even more disappointing since the admissions office had revamped and tried to strengthen its entire minority-recruiting program this year.
The admissions office focused much of its activities this year on recruiting minority applicants. Jennifer Carey '78, an admissions officer who oversees minority recruiting, said last week. More student recruiters canvassed the country trying to convince minorities to apply alumni were encouraged to contact possible candidates and a united effort was made to improve Harvard's imagine among all minority students, Carey said.
Carey and other admissions officials expressed disappointment that their efforts this year have had no visible effect. One problem, they explained, is the limited pool of qualified Black students each year, all of whom are heavily recruited by the top colleges.
Carey said that the percentage of other minorities accepted Harvard did not decline this year, and that the yield of Hispanics and Puerto Ricans went up significantly following a high-powered attempt at recruiting those students.
Harvard's main competition for Black students is with Yale. Princeton, Brown, and Stanford universities. Among those four colleges, only Stanford's Black yield increased this year. In fact, the Stanford yield has gone up more than 15 percent in the past three years. Fred Hargadon, dean of admissions and financial aid there, said yesterday.
Haragdon added that although Stanford often awards more outright grants than Harvard, they still follow the same need-based financial aid guidelines as the Ivy League schools.
Alexis Johns, a senior at Jamaica High School in New York, said she chose Stanford over Harvard because of the better financial aid package she received from the California school. Harvard offered her $3000, mostly in the form of loans, while Stanford offered her a $10,000 package, including a $6000 outright grant, Johns added.
Schools like Duke or the University of Chicago have also begun to attract Black students with special merit scholarships admissions officials at the Ivy League schools and Stanford said last week. One example is student Patricia Campbell, a high school senior in Baltimore, who said yesterday that she chose to enroll in Duke over Harvard because she won a four-year scholarship which includes special summer travel programs.
Harvard took too long to reply to her petition for financial aid, Campbell said, adding that although her first choice had previously been Harvard. Duke showed much more interest in her and actively pursued her even after she won the scholarship.
Although student recruiters here have increased their efforts at contacting Black students who apply to Harvard. Ari M. Fitzgerald '84, co-coordinator for Black recruiting, said that undergraduate recruiters never try to malign other schools to convince students to come to Harvard.
"You can improve the number of qualified students applying from diverse backgrounds and you can improve on the number of students admitted." Fitzgerald said, but Harvard's main problem remains getting those qualified admitted students to enroll.
Black students' wariness at coming to Harvard stems from considerations other than just financial aid, Fitzgerald said. Admissions officials agreed, noting that although many Black students turned Harvard down to go to schools like the University of Virginia or Duke, which offer special scholarships, most Black students turned Harvard down to go to other Ivy League schools, which offer roughly the same amount of financial aid. Out of the 87 students turning Harvard down, more than 70 percent are going to other Ivy League schools or Stanford or MIT, said George Sanchez '81, an admissions officer who also helps oversee minority recruiting.
The chart on the right shows the sharp decline during the past two years in the percentage of Black students admitted to Harvard who decided to matriculate. While the number of applications and acceptances have remained stable, admissions officials said that competition from other schools has caused the sudden drop.