Campus & Community

Once again, record numbers apply for admission to the College

3 min read

Nearly 23,000 students have applied for admission to the Class of 2011. While the final number is yet to be determined, thus far 22,920 have applied, exceeding the previous record of 22,796 for the Class of 2009 and last year’s 22,754.

“Three factors have led to this new milestone,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “First, the public’s overwhelming response to Harvard’s decision to end early admission next year may have given many current seniors a fresh perspective on Harvard as a possible college choice. A second major factor was our newly enhanced financial aid program, which benefited from the extensive media coverage associated with our ending early admission.” The College requires no contribution from families with incomes less than $60,000, reduces the contribution for families with incomes between $60,000 and $80,000, and has increased its scholarship program by 65 percent over the past seven years, significantly increasing assistance for students across the economic spectrum. “A third factor is an expanded recruitment program for both domestic and international students,” Fitzsimmons said.

“We fielded many questions throughout the year from students and families about Harvard’s financial aid program, particularly in the wake of our early admission announcement,” said Sarah C. Donahue, director of financial aid. “Many people were surprised to learn that two-thirds of our students receive financial aid, that so many middle-income students receive substantial grant assistance, and that we have experienced a 31 percent increase over the past three years in the number of students from families with incomes under $60,000,” she said.

“Our overall recruitment plan was enhanced this year by adjustments in our Joint Travel Program through which staff members visit 130 U.S. cities in all 50 states and Puerto Rico annually,” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of admissions. “We were also pleased by the impressive response from international applicants, whose numbers increased by 12 percent,” she said.

Grace Cheng, director of Joint Travel, noted that beginning this year, Stanford joined Harvard, Duke, Georgetown, and the University of Pennsylvania in the 15-year-old Joint Travel Program. “Clearly everyone benefits when outstanding institutions travel together, sharing information with thousands of students, parents, and high school guidance counselors,” she said.

International recruitment has increased greatly over the past decade, especially in the past few years. “Through our efforts, we are reaching exceptionally well-qualified candidates who had not previously considered Harvard among their college options,” said Robin M. Worth, director of international admissions. “We are grateful to our admissions staff members who have traveled widely for us and to the many alumni/ae throughout the world who work to assist us,” she said.

Women comprise 50.4 percent of the applicant pool. Candidates’ intended fields of concentration have changed little from last year. While the recorded numbers of students from minority backgrounds will rise as applications are evaluated by admissions officers, the numbers of African-American and Latino applicants already exceed last year’s totals. “We are ever grateful for the help of our students working both within the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program and the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative,” said Roger Banks, director of recruitment. “The support of alumni/ae also is crucial to the progress we have made so far this year,” he said.

In the coming weeks, the Admissions Committee and faculty members will read all the applications carefully and make the final decisions on the Class of 2011 during meetings that began on Jan. 30 and end on March 19. Applicants will be sent letters informing them of the committee’s decisions at 12:01 a.m. March 29, and will be notified by e-mail later that day if they so requested. Admitted students have until May 1 to make their final college selection.