Applications Rise Again For Incoming Class

Financial aid increase thought to influence applicants

Applications to Harvard jumped by nearly eight percent this year, Byerly Hall officials announced yesterday, mirroring a national trend of increased applications for the class of 2003.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67 said 18,123 students have applied for admission to next year's class, just 60 off the record set by the class of 2000 and 1,305 more than last year.

The increase, which comes on the heels of a 13 percent rise in the number of early action acceptances--to 1,186--will stiffen competition for space in Harvard Yard for next year.

After accounting for those deferred from the early action pool, over 16,000 students will now compete for less than 1,000 remaining slots.

Admissions officials said they were pleased with the quality of the applicants.


According to information released by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, over 1,900 of the applicants had perfect scores on their verbal SATs, and nearly 2,600 were valedictorians of their classes.

Fitzsimmons attributed the growth in applicants to a variety of factors, including an increased number of high school seniors--a trend predicted to continue for the next decade--and the increase in financial aid announced in September.

"People who need financial aid are obviously very interested in getting the best education they can get and the aid they need," Fitzsimmons said. "The financial aid message is that it is clear that there will be no barriers" in applying to Harvard.

Applications may also be up because of the increased use of the common application, which Harvard uses, making it easierfor students to apply to several schools,according to Donna Raczynski, director ofprofessional development programs and services atthe National Association for College AdmissionsCounseling.

"Some [students] might not be as seriousapplicants, only applying because it's so easy,"she said.

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 saidrecent developments were probably responsible forthe rise, but added that the increase may also bedue to the high quality of a Harvard education.

"I tend to think that these trends are drivenby fundamentals," Lewis wrote in an e-mailmessage. "There is no one reason why Harvard is agood place, nor is it necessarily a good place foreveryone, but the wonderful things our studentsand faculty do are widely known, and others wantto be part of it."

According to Fitzsimmons, the rise inapplicants is constant across the board, withgeographic, gender and ethnic ratios remainingroughly the same.

The number of Asian-American applicants is upfive percent over last year; black applicants areup six percent. Mexican-American and Puerto Ricanapplicants both jumped around 20 percent, butFitzsimmons cautioned that those figures werebased on "smaller bases."

Applications from women were up just over eightpercent.

Since the Jan. I application deadline passed,admissions officers have been busy reading theonslaught of applications.

"Things are, shall we say, busy...This placehas always been caffeine central," Fitzsimmonssaid.

"We see the light at the end of the tunnel andwe just hope it's not a tractor trailer comingtowards us," said Senior Admissions Officer DavidL. Evans.

Admissions decisions will be mailed on April 1

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