Early Applicant Pool Continues Growth Trend

* Midwest and Western regions lead expansion

The number of early action applicants is up 8.6 percent for the Class of 2002.

According to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67, Harvard received 4,221 applications for early consideration, compared to 3,911 at the same time last year, although this year's numbers may fall slightly if students switch from early to regular action.

"We have now had three years of relative stability after enormous increases four years ago," when many of the Ivy League schools switched from non-binding early action to binding early-decision programs, Fitzsimmons said.

While applications from all regions have risen, Fitzsimmons said that the greatest increases seem to be in the Mid-west and Western regions of the country.

"We have been very pleased with early action," Fitzsimmons said. "We get a chance to see some of the most competitive applicants of the year."


The University of Pennsylvania received 2,130 applications for its early-decision program, a 16.2 percent increase over last year. Fitzsimmons, however, pointed out that Penn tells students that applying through their binding early-decision program gives students an advantage, whereas others are "less clear about advantages and disadvantages."

Fitzsimmons cautioned that comparisons between schools can be difficult given the differences in the early application programs at the various schools.

The Daily Princetonian quoted Fred A. Hargadon, Princeton's dean of admissions, as saying that the school received "one or two dozen more applicants than last year," when the school received 1,600 early applications.

According to The Princetonian, Dartmouth received about 50 fewer than last year's total of 1,313. Duke received 1,320 applications--up about 100--while Brown received 3,160 applications, up from 3,005.

While acknowledging that early application programs, especially binding ones, can be "unattractive because of financial aid considerations," Fitzsimmons pointed out that the Class of 2001 has a record 46 percent of students on scholarships, and between two-thirds and 70 percent of all students at the College receive some form of financial aid.

He said that last year also represented a "phenomenal year in minority recruiting."

Early-action decisions will be mailed on Dec. 12, with responses from students due by May 1

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