Freshman Survey Part II: The Gilded Envelope

The Crimson’s Annual Survey Digs into Admissions, Financial Aid, and Athletic Recruiting

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About 74 percent of students who indicated that they are legacy students, meaning they have one or more parents who attended the College, were admitted through early admissions.

Legacy students on average reported higher test scores than their non-legacy peers. The average SAT for self-reported legacy students was 2296, while the average score for the rest of the survey’s respondents was 2237. The average GPA for legacy students was a 3.9, compared to a 3.93 average GPA for non-legacy respondents.

Average SAT scores, similar to last year, varied by ethnicity. Asian respondents reported the highest average SAT score of 2305, while black and Hispanic or Latino students reported the two lowest averages, at 2157 and 2201, respectively.

Based on the survey’s results, white students appear to enjoy key advantages when it comes to the admissions process. Eighty-eight percent of legacy students, for instance, reported their ethnicity as white. About 17 percent of white respondents reported that they hired private admissions counselors, a higher rate than all groups by Asians.

Money, Power, Admissions

Following a widely documented trend in college admissions, 67 percent of respondents who said their family makes more than $500,000 annually were accepted through early admissions, compared to just 35 percent of those students who said their family income is lower than $40,000.

Students whose families make more than $500,000 annually hired private admissions counselors nearly four times as much as those students whose families earn less than $40,000. Additionally, this year, 32 percent of those students in the highest income bracket hired private counselors, compared to 22.6 percent last year.  Students whose families make less than $40,000 per year attained, on average, SAT scores 80 points lower than those whose family income exceeded $500,000 per year.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said in an interview last October that part of the reason that an income gap exists in early admissions is that students from less privileged economic backgrounds generally do not have access to the same resources in the college admissions process as their more wealthy peers.

“What tends to happen with people of modest economic backgrounds is they tend to disproportionately attend schools where there are fewer counselors per student. Many also attend schools where there are fewer teachers per student,” Fitzsimmons said.

Bigger, Faster, Stronger

Eleven percent of respondents said that they are coming to Harvard as recruited athletes.

Non-athletes reported an average SAT composite score of 2256, while the average reported SAT score for athletes was 2068. Non-athletes estimated their IQs, on average, to be nearly five points higher than that of athletes.

Recruited athletes reported a higher family income, on average, than that of the total surveyed class, with only 1.6 percent of recruited athletes reporting that their families make less than $40,000 per year. Eighty-three percent of athletes identified as white or multi-racial.

Offsetting College Costs

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that they receive financial aid from the College, marking a slightly lower figure than the nearly 60 percent of students that the Admissions and Financial Aid office reports receive need-based aid.

Fifty-four percent of respondents who live in urban areas said they receive financial aid, while 52 percent of those who hail from suburban areas and 73 percent from rural areas reported the same.

Of those receiving financial aid, 29 percent of respondents said they attended private school, while 70 percent attended public school. Six tenths of a percent selected the home-schooled or “other” option. Eleven percent of the people who said that they receive financial aid also said they are recruited athletes, a figure that almost exactly matches the proportion of recruited athletes in the class overall.

—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on twitter @trdelwic.

—Staff writer Alexander H. Patel can be reached at Follow him on twitter @alexhpatel.