Harvard Yard gate
The Harvard College Class of 2010 will be chosen from a near-record pool of applicants. (Staff file photo Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard News Office)

22,719 seek spots in Class of 2010

After a 15 percent increase last year, applications to the College kept pace, remaining near record levels. Applications for the Class of 2010 number 22,719, compared to last year’s record 22,796.

“In the second full year of its implementation, Harvard’s Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI) has sustained its momentum and once again advanced the College’s mission to attract the nation’s and the world’s best students,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. “While HFAI is designed to attract students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds, the message that all students of talent are welcome resonates with everyone. In another era, many who now apply might never have imagined that Harvard was within their reach,” said Fitzsimmons.

President Lawrence H. Summers announced the HFAI program in February 2004. HFAI requires no contribution from families earning $40,000 or less and a greatly reduced contribution from those earning from $40,000 to $60,000. It supplements a financial aid program that distributes $105 million annually to nearly 70 percent of the student body. “Last year the number of students eligible for HFAI increased by 24 percent compared to the previous freshman class,” said Sarah C. Donahue, director of financial aid. “While it is still too early to tell what will happen this year, the results from Early Action bode well for another economically diverse class,” she said.

Other demographic information about the applicant pool is still being collected. A precise ethnic breakdown, for example, will not be available until much later in the month when readings will be concluded, but there are already more minority applications recorded than last year.

The proportion of women in the pool is an unprecedented 51.6 percent, compared to 50 percent last year. Two years ago, for the first time in Harvard’s history, women comprised slightly more than 50 percent of the registered freshman class, a milestone also achieved by this year’s Class of 2009. “The many years of hard work on the part of the faculty, alumni/ae, students, and staff in recruiting outstanding women have met with success,” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of admissions. “We are grateful to everyone involved in our multifaceted outreach efforts which seek promising students from every background,” she said.

There is very little difference this year from last in the geographical distribution or the academic interests of Harvard’s applicants. Regarding the latter, members of the teaching faculty read applications in their particular areas of academic expertise as well as a large number of others. “Faculty members spend many hours on top of all their other duties evaluating applications, responding to countless e-mails and telephone calls, and meeting with prospective students throughout the year and during our April Visiting Program for admitted students,” said Fitzsimmons.

This year the admissions selection meetings began on Feb. 1 and will conclude on March 21. Notification letters will be mailed at 12:01 a.m. on March 30 and electronic notification will take place at 5 p.m. that day. The Visiting Program for admitted students will be held April 22-24. Students must reply to offers of admission by May 1.

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