Campus & Community

College admissions yield near 80%

4 min read

The yield on students admitted to the College has reached a level not seen since the early 1970s. Close to 80 percent of the students admitted to the Class of 2006 have chosen to enroll this coming September. The high yield means that it is unlikely that anyone will be admitted from the waiting list this year.

Yield, the percentage of admitted students who decide to accept an offer of admission, is considered a measure of a school’s competitiveness. Harvard’s yield remains, by a substantial margin, the highest of the nation’s selective colleges – particularly striking because students admitted under Harvard’s Early Action program are free to enroll at other colleges.

A record 19,609 students applied for admission to the Class of 2006. Applications for admission to Harvard have risen in 11 of the past 12 years. Last year, 19,009 applied for the 1,650 places in the entering class. The percentage of students admitted to this year’s class was 10.5 percent, the lowest in Harvard’s history.

“We met many extraordinary students during the course of the recruiting year, and it is gratifying that so many of them will be with us over the next four years,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “They are excited about the many opportunities that await them here and about the renewed emphasis on undergraduate education envisioned by President Lawrence Summers and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.”

Harvard’s financial assistance for undergraduates next year will total nearly $100 million, with close to $68 million in the form of scholarship assistance, all based on need. Almost 70 percent of Harvard undergraduates receive some form of financial aid, and roughly 50 percent will receive an estimated average grant close to $23,000.

Harvard’s financial aid program ensures that all admitted students will have access to a Harvard education. Enhancements made in the past three years under the leadership of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Jeremy R. Knowles have reduced the self-help package – the amount students are expected to contribute – by close to $4,000 per year, from $7,150 to $3,250. “Students can now choose to meet this obligation through work or loans, or a combination of the two,” said Sarah Clark Donahue, director of Financial Aid. “The freedom and flexibility provided by the new program allow students to take full advantage of academic and extracurricular opportunities, and to look forward to graduate and career plans with much less burden from student loans or no debt at all.”

The Class of 2006 is similar to last year’s class demographically in terms of geographic background, intended field of concentration, ethnicity, and gender. There are slightly more students from the Midwest and Middle Atlantic States and fewer from the West and the South; prospective humanities students led the way once again, rising slightly (2.1 percent) to 28 percent, while biology dipped to 20 percent from 23.7 percent; the percentage of Asian Americans rose from 14.5 percent to 17.4 percent; African-American and Hispanic percentages were similar to last year, with African Americans comprising 6.9 percent (7.2 percent last year) and Hispanic numbers rising slightly from 3.4 percent to 3.9 percent, while Mexican Americans declined from 3.2 percent to 1.8 percent, Puerto Ricans from 1.8 percent to 1.5 percent, and Native Americans from just over 1 percent to just under 1 percent. The percentage of women rose from 47.8 percent to 48.2 percent.

“Over 1,100 admitted students visited Harvard April 20-22 for a program that introduced them to life at Harvard. Alumnae and alumni hosted local receptions throughout the United States and abroad. In addition, current undergraduates, admissions staff, and faculty members called and wrote to admitted students informing them of opportunities available to them here,” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of Admissions. “As always, students, faculty, alumni, and alumnae make the critical difference in encouraging students to join us here in Cambridge.”

The recruiting process for next year’s Class of 2007 has already begun. Sixty thousand letters have been sent to high school students, and 55 cities are being visited this month by Harvard admissions officers in conjunction with three other colleges. In each city, there is an evening meeting for students and parents and an early morning meeting with local guidance counselors. Another 55 cities will be visited using the same format in September and October. Individual admissions officers will also visit hundreds of other locales in both spring and fall in the continuing effort to ensure that the world’s best students consider Harvard among their college choices.