For Class of 2006, an E-Mail, Not an Envelope

Admissions office will offer online notification to applicants starting in December

Following the lead of Dartmouth and Yale, Harvard will offer online admissions notification to Class of 2006 hopefuls.

The faster method of notification, which will come online in December, relies on a recently completed million dollar data system, said Admissions Director Marilyn McGrath Lewis ’70-’73.

“Everyone deserves to get this [news] as quickly as we are confident that we are able to get it to them securely,” McGrath Lewis said. “This year, it’s electronically.”

The text of the e-mail message will will convey acceptance, deferral or rejection in the manner of letters sent in previous years.

“It now seems quite normal, and just as cordial, I hope, as though you’re sending [the admissions decisions] in regular mail,” McGrath Lewis said.

She estimated that 93 percent of the applications already received this year include candidates’ e-mail addresses, although neither admissions office officials nor applicants were aware that notification via e-mail would be an option.

In past years, the admissions office has relied on e-mail to communicate with international applicants in areas where mail service was unreliable.

Since prospective students were not asked about the privacy or security of their e-mail accounts, the admissions office will contact all candidates in the coming weeks and offering them the chance to provide secure e-mail addresses.

“We’re fanatically concerned about security and privacy, as we always have been,” McGrath Lewis said.

A technical team advising the admissions office recommended sending decisions via e-mail rather than posting them on a secure website.

Yale and Dartmouth plan to post their decisions on websites later this year.

Admissions decisions will be e-mailed to those who select the service as soon as they are available.

“Early Action is a great program, but has been a problem for people who hadn’t prepared and submitted applications to places they might want to be if they are deferred,” McGrath Lewis said. “Time advantage to candidates is the principal attraction to us.”

Regular applicants will also receive e-mail notification of the decisions.

All admitted students will still receive information packets of information by regular mail.

Recent disruptions in national mail service caused by concerns about anthrax have highlighted the benefits of electronic notification, McGrath Lewis said.