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Reply Date Extension for Class of 2017 Under Possible Consideration

Effect of Visitas Cancellation on Admissions Yield Unclear

By Madeline R. Conway, Crimson Staff Writer

Following the cancellation of Visitas weekend Friday afternoon, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 told The Crimson Friday night that officials may consider the possibility of granting an extension for accepted students to reply to their offers of admission to the College.

He said other Ivy League admissions officers had been in email communication with him Friday about the possibility of extending the reply date.

When considering the possible extension, Fitzsimmons said the Office of Admissions will “monitor the situation as we go along,” adding that there may be “some specific situations where students will need more information from either students or faculty.”

Harvard’s decision to cancel its annual spring admitted students weekend came amid a manhunt for the second suspect in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings that paralyzed the greater Boston area for a full day. The cancellation of Visitas programming left some admitted students considering Harvard without the opportunity to visit campus and learn about extracurricular and academic offerings.

Fitzsimmons said that “it’s absolutely impossible to know” if the cancellation will have an impact on the Class of 2017’s yield.

“This is an unprecedented event,” Fitzsimmons said, “and it’s very difficult to know how it might go.”

With MBTA closures on Friday preventing visiting prospective freshmen from traveling from Boston Logan International Airport to Cambridge, Fitzsimmons and other admissions officers and administrators traveled to the airport to receive them. The Harvard officials met with a group of more than 100 admitted students and parents in Terminal E.

“It was very interesting to watch them talk,” Fitzsimmons said. “In some cases they were trying to convince one another to join the Harvard Class of 2017.”

Fitzsimmons said the “vast majority” of the students he spoke with at the airport Friday had decided to matriculate to Harvard.

Fitzsimmons said that although Visitas weekend will not be rescheduled, the Office of Admissions will make a continuing effort to contact admitted students who remain undecided.

“Obviously, we are sorry that the program had to be canceled, but we do believe we can reach out,” Fitzsimmons said.

Fitzsimmons said he anticipates that the Office of Admissions will reach out to prospective students via email and telephone, as well as through the official Class of 2017 Facebook group, in the coming weeks. The Facebook group was made by the Office of Admissions, and admitted students must be approved to join, said Noah S. Selsby ’94, assistant dean for administration.

Despite the weekend’s cancellation, Fitzsimmons said a large percentage of admitted students have already visited campus in the past. He also cited other resources, such as websites, blogs, and guidebooks, as sources of information available to students making a decision.

“I think that the amount of information people have is quite adequate, ultimately, for them to make a decision,” Fitzsimmons said.

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at mconway@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

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