Campus & Community

Yield for the Class of 2011 nears 80 percent

4 min read

Selected from record pool of 22,955 applicants

Nearly 80 percent of the students admitted to the Class of 2011 will enter Harvard in September, identical to last year’s Class of 2010. The yield may rise slightly once the final returns are in, including about 35 students who will be admitted from the waiting list over the coming weeks.

“Yield” is considered a measure of a college’s competitiveness. By a substantial margin, Harvard’s yield remains the highest of the nation’s selective colleges.

The Class of 2011 was selected from a record applicant pool of 22,955. For the fourth time in Harvard’s history, there will be more women than men in the entering class. At this time, women outnumber men 826 to 804, comprising 50.7 percent of the class.

“We are enormously grateful to the many teaching faculty, alumni/ae, and current undergraduates who have helped attract, once again, many of the nation’s and world’s most promising students,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. “They provide the critical difference by informing prospective undergraduates of the vast opportunities awaiting them here in Cambridge.”

Financial aid expansion vital to the yield

“Meeting the financial need of our extraordinary students makes it possible for them to attend,” said Sarah C. Donahue, director of financial aid. “With a nearly 60 percent expansion of financial aid over the past six years, our financial aid budget now exceeds $103 million. Two-thirds of Harvard students receive financial aid, with over 50 percent of the student body receiving need-based institutional grant aid.”

Harvard’s new financial aid initiative, which requires no family contribution from those with incomes less than $60,000 and a reduced contribution from families with incomes between $60,000 and $80,000, once again helped to produce Harvard’s high yield. Well more than 80 percent of families eligible for the initiative have chosen Harvard, as was the case for the Class of 2010. About 25 percent or more of the Class of 2011 will be included in the new initiative.

In the past decade, Harvard has reduced the median four-year debt for graduating seniors on financial aid from over $16,000 to $6,850 — less than one-third of the national average of over $20,000. The average grant next year will be $32,000 — or 65 percent of the average cost of attendance — an enormous help to middle-class families as well as those of more modest means. This year at Harvard College there were 1,359 students on scholarship whose annual family income exceeds $100,000, and 481 students with family incomes in excess of $150,000.

Harvard’s Financial Aid Office was open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday during the month of April to respond to inquiries from parents and students. The financial aid staff responded to more than 2,500 calls and visits from newly admitted students in April.

April Visiting Program hosted record numbers

Harvard’s April Visiting Program once again provided a warm welcome to newly admitted students. Nearly 88 percent of the 1,169 who attended have decided to enroll.

Members of the faculty along with administrators and current undergraduates conducted panel discussions and fielded many questions from admitted students in person, on the telephone, and via e-mail. Alumni/ae hosted numerous “admit parties” and telephoned admitted students in their local areas. Undergraduates — through the Undergraduate Admissions Council, the Undergraduate Minority Recruiting Program, and the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative — telephoned and e-mailed all admitted students and hosted students in Cambridge. Admissions staff, particularly Erin Fehn, director of the April Visiting Program, and Talhia Tuck and David L. Evans, co-directors of the Undergraduate Admissions Council, ensured that admitted students had the opportunity to experience life at Harvard firsthand.

The Class of 2011 is similar to last year’s class in geographic background and intended fields of concentration. Prospective social science concentrators comprise 25.5 percent of the class, humanities concentrators 24.5 percent, while 24 percent listed biological sciences. Prospective engineering and computer science concentrators comprise 9.3 percent of the class, mathematics 9 percent, physical sciences 7.4 percent, and 0.3 percent are undecided.

Asian-American students comprise 20.3 percent of the Class of 2011, compared with 19.1 percent last year. African-American students comprise 8.7 percent of the class (9.3 percent last year), Latino students 9.2 percent (8.7 percent last year), and Native Americans 1.2 percent (1.2 percent last year).

“The recruiting program for the Class of 2012 is already under way,” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of admissions. More than 70,000 letters will be sent to high school students, and Harvard admissions officers will visit 60 cities this month in conjunction with four other colleges and will travel to additional locales on their own. Thousands of prospective students and their families have already visited Cambridge over the past few months, attending group information sessions and tours. “We have also communicated with thousands of prospective students through electronic media of various kinds,” noted McGrath Lewis. “Our outreach efforts are more multifaceted than ever before, and recruitment ‘season’ truly never ceases.”