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Another spring brings another newly admitted class of Harvard students — and with it, a new record-breakingly low acceptance rate. On April 7, high school seniors from across the globe logged into the Harvard admissions portal; just under 2,000 of the 57,000 applicants received a letter starting with “Congratulations!”.
We remember that moment well — for most of us, it was marked by the euphoria of a seemingly impossible dream coming true. Unfortunately, this year’s 3.43 percent acceptance rate only edifies the myth that getting accepted into Harvard is indeed impossible.
We hope this dauntingly low number does not deter future applicants — admissions rates reveal nothing about an individual’s chances of admission, especially during such bizarre times. As for the tens of thousands of undoubtedly brilliant students who were met with unfavorable results: Please remember that this doesn’t reflect anything about you or your potential. It’s a harsh mathematical reality, the inevitable product of a steady increase in applicants amidst stagnant enrollment numbers during a pandemic-induced crisis.
But if that 3.43 percent is jarring, we must also acknowledge that it came with many encouraging trends. A full 18 percent of admitted students for the Class of 2025 identify as Black, in comparison to only 14.8 percent last year; the percentage of students who identify as Latinx also rose to 13.3, up from 12.7. Our community is increasingly economically diverse too: For the first time in Harvard’s (long) history, more than 20 percent of the admitted class is Pell Grant eligible.
That leads us to believe that the high number of applicants, while creating a low acceptance rate, is representative of a growing awareness that Harvard can be accessible (and, crucially, affordable) to applicants from a variety of backgrounds. We’re proud to note this improvement, a positive development in a system that oftentimes exacerbates inequity.
Granted, an improvement doesn’t mean the battle is won. Harvard must continue to increase the accessibility of its application process, including by making its generous financial aid program more visible to those who might benefit. Our currently exclusive façade can prove significantly discouraging; cohesive outreach efforts could let more students know that Harvard might not be impossible afterall.
Still, congratulations are in order for the crafters of the historic class. We commend Harvard’s Admissions Office for their efforts to accept a wide range of students. Their decision to make the SAT optional might have proved crucial in making Harvard’s application accessible to more prospective students, and we’re glad that the policy will extend until at least next year. We hope that, going forward, Harvard remains transparent about how going test-optional might impact admissions, as well as what percentage of test optional students were admitted.
We are also pleased that Harvard chose to admit a full class, despite the nearly 350 students who deferred from the last admission cycle. The decision is a laudable investment in the Class of 2025, one that shows Harvard’s commitment to its educational mission.
But despite our emphasis on the numbers, these accepted students are far from just statistics — they are our future classmates, neighbors, and friends who will come to define post-Zoom Harvard. They are the students who we will welcome into our communities next Housing Day and who will, a year later, welcome an entirely new class themselves. We are excited to discover their passions and talents, quirks and idiosyncrasies, and to see them explore and bring to life our little Cambridge corner.
To the newly admitted Class of 2025, welcome to Harvard — we are so happy to have you.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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