Harvard Admits 1,048 Students In Early Action

* Class of 2002 sees 9 percent jump in admits

For more than 1,000 high school seniors, the decision to attend Harvard is now as simple as checking the "yes" box on a small tan card.

The Harvard-Radcliffe Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid announced yesterday they admitted 1,048 students to the class of 2002 under its Early Action program, the largest number in College history.

"The number of very high quality, unusually strong applicants was up over last year, which led to a larger number students admitted," said William R. Fitzsimmons '67, dean of admissions and financial aid.

According to figures released by the admissions office, 4,213 students applied this year under the non-binding program. Seventy percent of them were sent letters of deferral, 4 were rejected and 10 people ultimately withdrew their applications.

The number of students admitted early rose 9 percent over last year, when 902 students received congratulatory letters in December.


The growth of the applicant pool continues a trend several years old, Fitzsimmons said.

In 1995, Yale, Princeton and Stanford universities all adopted a binding Early Decision admissions process in an effort to retain top students.

That year, Harvard saw its Early Action applicant pool shoot up by more than 1,000 applicants.

Fitzsimmons said the flexibility of Harvard's program, which allows students to weigh offers from other colleges in April before deciding where to attend, leads to yearly increases in applicants.

"The flexibility of Early Action made it more attractive, and a lot more people applied," Fitzsimmons said.

According to the admissions office, large numbers of qualified students are also enticed to apply to Harvard because of the school's need-blind admissions program.

"We will probably offer $ 80 million dollars in financial aid this year," said James S. Miller, director of financial aid said, in a press release.

Fitzsimmons said that the committee's overriding goal was to select the best candidates, despite recent criticism in the popular press that accuses selective colleges of filling quotas.

"I think that notion of getting so-called representation from 'x' number of states and 'y' number of countries may be outdated at a lot of institutions," Fitzsimmons said.

"That kind of thing was much more relevant to discussions in the '50s and '60s," he said.

Harvard normally admits more than 40 percent of its incoming classes under its Early Action program.