Class of 2008 Applications Remain High

In the College’s second highest tally ever, 19,712 students applied for a spot in the Class of 2008, despite early application numbers plummeting 47 percent this fall.

The numbers released yesterday were slightly higher than expected, according to Director of Admissions Marlyn McGrath Lewis ’70-’73.

“We are a little surprised we got up to 20,000,” McGrath Lewis said.

A record 15,855 students applied regular decision. Only 3,887 applied early—down from 7,614 last year—after the College reverted to its pre-1999 ‘Single Choice Early Action’ policy this fall.

The policy prevents students from applying early to other schools while still allowing them a non-binding admissions option. Under last year’s more liberal early action policy, applicants could apply to any early admissions program—whether or not it was binding—in addition to Harvard.


20,987 students applied to the Class of 2007—the only year application numbers have exceeded 20,000.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said that he was very pleased with this year’s application pool, and called the new policy “a success.” “Both the number and the quality of the applicants bode well for an outstanding freshman class next year,” Fitzsimmons said.

The decision to switch this year’s application policies was implemented in light of the economic situation in many parts of the country and the world, according to Fitzsimmons. He says budget crunches have had an adverse effect on the nation’s public schools, where guidance counselors often deal with larger case loads than they can handle.

“Going to Single Choice Early Action was truly sending a message to students ... that you can apply regular,” Fitzsimmons said.

Both Fitzsimmons and McGrath Lewis say the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid did not do anything differently in order to ensure a rebound in applicants from the early admissions figures.

“We did an aggressive direct mail search and wrote to many thousands of juniors, as usual,” McGrath Lewis said.

The Office of Admissions has not yet decided how many applicants to admit.

“We are pondering the decision about the acceptance rate,” Fitzsimmons said.

Despite the application policy change, this years’ applicants matched the caliber of those who applied to the Class of 2007. Over 56 percent of applicants in both classes scored over 700 on the math section of the SATI, and 49 percent of both groups scored over 700 on the verbal. But the Class of 2008 scored higher on the SATII Writing, with 10.2 percent earning a perfect 800, compared to 9.2 percent of last year’s pool.

This year’s applicants hail from an equally broad geographic distribution as last year’s, though there is a slight increase in applicants from overseas and a decrease in applicants from Canada. Though the statistics are not yet complete, they seem to show a rise in the percentage of minority applicants.

The committee reviewing applications to the College began reading regular decision applications in December—when they announced early action decisions—and will continue until March 22.

Admissions decisions will be mailed to students at 12:01 AM on April 1.

—Staff writer Bari M. Schwartz can be reached at

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