?The tradition of careful, individual review of applications to Harvard College goes back to its earliest days. Each application receives as many as four readings prior to selection meetings. This month, 20 subcommittees meet for three to five days — each discussing an applicant for as long as an hour. Decisions are made by majority vote and are referred to the full committee, which makes the admission offers next month.
Bill Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions, said eager applicants sometimes augment the process with extra material. Musically talented applicants each year submit 2,500 recordings, which are sent to the Music Department faculty for review.
Other applicants have sent in material ranging from the quirky to the outrageous: cookies and date bread, monogrammed pencils urging admission, mock issues of Time magazine with candidates as persons of the year, and photos of applicants in bedrooms freshly painted crimson. Perhaps the most shocking delivery was the life-size plaster of paris casting of an applicant.
The admissions process
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
File under "A" for admissions
Thousands of applications pour in and filers like Malensky Oscar (left) of Long Island University and Joyce Zhang '13 help shoulder the administrative burden of filing. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William Fitzsimmons watches their work and assesses his impending workload.
Projecting the future
Sally White Harty, senior admissions and financial aid officer for Harvard College, projects student application essays for review during an admissions meeting. Each application receives as many as four readings prior to selection meetings.
Associate Director of Financial Aid Kathryn Vidra (from left, pink shirt) helps Fitzsimmons and others review applications and materials.
Behind the scenes, admissions decisions are made by majority vote, with offers made in March.
David Evans (left), an admissions and financial aid senior specialist, considers applications in one of many meetings he'll attend where applicants are often discussed for as long as one hour.
Fitzsimmons said eager applicants sometimes augment the process with extra material ranging from the quirky to the outrageous: One applicant sent in a life-size plaster casting of herself.