Article Misrepresents International Admissions


To the Editors of the Crimson:

We read with great disappointment Dangalira K. Mughogho's opinion piece "The Myth of Diversity" (November 21). We wish first to correct his statement that there are only 36 "international students" in the Class of 1994.

In fact there is an unprecedented number of foreign students in the current first-year class: 96 foreign nationals, 27 of whom are Canadian. There are an additional 90 foreign nationals who are permanent residents of the United States.

Contrary to Mughogho's assertion, American citizens who applied from abroad (or those with dual citizenship which includes U.S. citizenship) are not (and never have been) "counted" as international students.

Mughoho's definition of the "western world" is not explicit, but we must also refute his claim that "the distribution of foreign students is skewed towards the western world." More than half (53) of the foreign students in the freshman class are from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Oceania or Eastern Europe.

We are sympathetic to Mughogho's concern that access to information about American education be available to qualified applicants from the widest possible variety of backgrounds. Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges are among the very few institutions whose "need-blind" admissions policy applies as much to foreign students as it does to Americans.

Approximately 66 percent of the foreign students in the Class of 1994 are receiving financial aid, a figure nearly identical to that of enrolled U.S. citizens, and the average scholarship awarded to a foreign student is greater than that of his or her American counterpart.

We are very fortunate in that we have alumni representatives abroad who assist the admissions office not only by interviewing candidates for admission but also by encouraging applications from a variety of educational and socioeconomic backgrounds.

As is clearly stated in our published material, the admissions process takes into account a wide array of information which goes well beyond SAT scores and a list of extracurricular activities, the two "standards of the American college admissions process" which Mughogho asserts puts foreign applicants "necessarily at a disadvantage."

While we are pleased that Mughogho has acknowledged a "more equitable application form for international students," we are dismayed that his article suggests that we are then unable to interpret fairly the information that we have collected. Our entire admissions process is geared toward evaluating what an applicant has accomplished in the context of his or her cultural, educational, and social resources rather than holding all applicants to some universal, and therefore inappropriate, standard.

We therefore object strongly to Mughogho's contention that "students eliminated on technicalities" (in his example, the fact that social service is not a commonplace extracurricular opportunity in non-Western societies "that are not directly related to their ability to do well at college.")

We are very proud of the quality and diversity represented by the group of foreign students currently enrolled in the Colleges. As part of our ongoing efforts to maintain a strong international community, we will continue to welcome any suggestions from foreign students about how we can better inform and recruit candidates from their home area. Robin M. Worth   Assistant Director for International Admissions   Tamara Elliott Rogers   former Assistant Director for International Admissions