Application Totals Set New Records

An unprecedented 17,699 high school students applied for admission to the Class of 1999, including a record number of women, Blacks and foreign students, according to data released by the Admissions Office yesterday.

This is the fifth consecutive year that the number of applications increased and the first year that the College used the Common Application, a form which can be used to apply to a consortium of schools.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67 said the availability of the Common Application may have drawn a few hundreds more students who would not have otherwise applied.

"There was hope these [applicants] would [be from] rural or inner city areas, where guidance counseling was sparse and they don't have computerized or other admissions services," he said.

Although Harvard accepted a record 725 applicants under the Early Action plan, Fitzsimmons said selectivity criteria would not have changed had he known about the high number of regular applicants, approximately 2000 more than last year.


"The number is not that surprising," he said. "We had roughly a 12 percent increase in early action applications. The cardinal rule of the Early Action program is that you only admit people you're 100 percent, not 99 percent, sure you would admit in April," Fitzsimmons said.

He said roughly 100 to 200 students deferred under the Early Action plan will be accepted this spring.

Along with the record application numbers, thequality of applicants has increased as well,Fitzsimmons said. Approximately 2,000 applicantsscored a perfect 800 on the Level II MathematicsAchievement Test and 5,161 students received SATscores averaging 700 or higher.

Applications also showed an increase in thenumber of students who indicated they may studythe humanities, mathematics and computer science.

Despite the record number of applicants, theAdmissions Office has not hired more readers tocope with the increase in applications,Fitzsimmons said.

"In fact, we've been part of the Faculty ofArts and Science program, to reduce the number offull teaching equivalencies," he said. "We havelost a total of five positions in the last threeyears. We have had to reorganize, to ask staffmembers to dig in deeper."

The increase in application fees that came withthe admissions growth cannot be used to hire morereaders, Fitzsimmons said.

"It goes into unrestricted FAS funds, and [Deanof the Faculty] Jeremy Knowles decides what to dowith it," he said.

To give staff more time to read applications,the first sub-committee meeting occurredyesterday, a week earlier than previous years.

Approximately 2,000 applications have yet to beread, and an equal number are currently beingread, Fitzsimmons said.

The high number of applications may deter somestudents from applying. This, however, "has been areal concern since the late 50s or 60s,"Fitzsimmons said.

"Most people who apply to Harvard, unless theywent to a sophisticated school, were told theyshould never apply, and if they did, they wouldnever get in, "Fitzsimmons said.

"There is fear that a very good crop of juniorswould look and see what happened to seniors in thelast year and not apply," he added