Campus & Community

College admits Class of ’18

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Acceptance notices sent to 2,023, 5.9 percent of applicants

Harvard College sent admission notifications today to 2,023 students, 5.9 percent of the applicant pool of 34,295.  Included are record numbers of African-American and Latino students, who constitute 11.9 and 13 percent of the admitted class, respectively.

“The Class of 2018 reflects the excellence achieved by the students of an increasingly diverse America,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid.  “Attracting such outstanding students to the College is vital to Harvard’s mission of educating the future leaders of our nation.”

The incoming class comes from all regions of the United States and throughout the world.  About 23 percent come from the mid-Atlantic states, 21 percent from the Western and Mountain states, 17 percent from the South, 17 percent from New England, 10 percent from the Midwest, and 11 percent from the U.S. territories and abroad.  International citizens make up 10.5 percent of the class, and 7.7 percent are U.S. dual citizens.

“Harvard’s revolutionary financial aid program led a large number of our admitted students to apply,” said Fitzsimmons.  “Many were surprised to learn that for 90 percent of American families it costs the same or less to come to Harvard compared with public universities.”

This is the 10th year of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI).  Originally targeting students from low-income backgrounds, the program was expanded in 2007 under the leadership of President Drew Faust and Dean Michael D. Smith of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) to include middle-income families.  “I have never been prouder of Harvard and its leadership than when, even during the darkest days of the economic downturn, the strength of the financial aid program was never diminished and was rebalanced to ensure that resources would be directed to students who need the most aid,” said Fitzsimmons.

“Based on current projections, nearly 60 percent of the Class of 2018 will receive need-based financial aid grants, paying an average of only $12,000 annually,” said Sarah C. Donahue, Griffin Director of Financial Aid. Harvard requires no contribution from the 20 percent of Harvard families with annual incomes below $65,000, and asks an average of 10 percent of income from the majority of families receiving financial aid.  Loans are not required.  Even families with incomes greater than $150,000 are eligible for aid, depending on their particular circumstances, such as multiple children in college or unusual medical or other essential expenses.

“All financial aid recipients, as in the past, contribute to the cost of their education by working term-time and in the summer,” Donahue said.  “Harvard’s core value of providing access to Harvard for outstanding students from all economic backgrounds led to our remarkable financial aid program, inspiring future applicants from modest economic backgrounds to consider applying to Harvard.”

For students not receiving need-based aid, the total cost of attendance (including tuition, room, board and fees) is scheduled to increase by 3.9 percent, to $58,607.

“Because of our unwavering commitment to keeping a Harvard College education affordable for all students, regardless of family income, the real cost for most families will remain far less than the so-called ‘sticker price,’ ” said Smith.  “At $600 million, financial aid is the largest priority of our recently launched $2.5 billion capital campaign for Harvard College. Ken Griffin’s recent gift of $150 million — most of which will fund financial aid — illustrates how this program is made possible through the generosity of our alumni and underlines the debt of gratitude they are owed.”

“The applicant pool of 34,296 included many students with strong academic credentials,” said Marlyn E. McGrath, director of admissions.  About 13,500 students scored 700 or above on the SAT critical reading test; 16,400 scored 700 or above on the SAT math test; 14,200 scored 700 or higher on the SAT writing test; and 3,400 were ranked first in their high school classes.

“In addition to standard academic measures, students present a wide array of academic accomplishments, and we rely on our faculty to evaluate research of all kinds and portfolios across a range of academic and creative disciplines to identify the next generation of scholars for Harvard,” she said. “Faculty members speak with prospective students in person or on the phone and answer their letters and email inquiries.  Their accessibility is a clear demonstration of Harvard’s commitment to undergraduate education.”

Members of the teaching faculty serving on the admissions committee are Ann M. Blair, Peter J. Burgard, Diana L. Eck, Edward L. Glaeser, Benedict H. Gross, Guido Guidotti, Jay M. Harris, Joseph D. Harris, Robert D. Howe, Thomas Jehn, Nancy E. Kleckner, Harry R. Lewis, Richard M. Losick, James J. McCarthy, Louis Menand, Michael D. Mitzenmacher, Cherry Murray, Donald H. Pfister, Alison Simmons, Frans Spaepen, Christopher Stubbs, Richard F. Thomas, James H. Waldo, Robert M. Woollacott, and Amir Yacoby.

Fifty-five percent of those admitted to the new class are men, reflecting the fact that more men than women applied.  In addition to African-American and Latino students, 19.7 percent of the class is Asian-American and 1.9 percent Native American and native Hawaiian.

“Our students bring excellences of all kinds with them to Cambridge,” said McGrath.  Extracurricular interests cited by students include music and other expressive and performing arts (38 percent); debate and political activities, including student government (33 percent); social service (31 percent); and writing and journalism (17 percent).  In addition, 46 percent of the class expects to participate in recreational, intramural, or intercollegiate athletics.

Recruitment begins each year with direct outreach to promising juniors.  More than 63 percent of all admitted students and 81 percent of admitted minority students (including 90 percent of Latinos and 83 percent of African-Americans) appeared on the original College Board and ACT search lists that helped launch Harvard’s outreach program for the class.

Staff members will visit 125 cities this spring and fall in tandem with Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University, targeting high school juniors who may eventually join the Class of 2019.  “Harvard will also travel with Princeton, Yale, and the University of Virginia to visit 20 more cities in the fall, reaching out to students from modest economic backgrounds,” said Kanoe Lum Williams, assistant director of joint travel.   Added Jennifer Gandy, director of joint travel, “Last year, Harvard admissions officers visited all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Mexico, where we saw nearly 50,000 high school students and parents and met with more than 3,000 high school guidance counselors.”

“Recruitment has provided the foundation for Harvard’s pursuit of excellence for many decades,” said Roger Banks, director of recruitment.  “Members of the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program (UMRP) and the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI) played a key role in attracting this year’s students,” said Kaitlin Howrigan, associate director of recruitment.   Members of both organizations telephoned and sent email messages and letters to prospective applicants.  They also conducted recruitment trips around the country and met with middle school and high school student groups who visited Harvard.

“We are gratified by the enthusiasm of our UMRP coordinators and the unprecedented results they achieved this year,” said Lucerito Ortiz, co-director of UMRP.  Added Tia Ray, assistant director, “Our program continues to develop close relationships with schools and communities that will help us with future recruiting as well.”

“The Harvard Financial Aid Initiative remains one of Harvard’s highest priorities, and once again we were able to attract outstanding students from families with annual incomes under $80,000,” said Charlene Kim, HFAI director.  “Our student recruiters worked tirelessly to reach out to talented students from modest economic backgrounds who never dreamed Harvard was possible,” added Pharen Bowman, HFAI assistant director.  “As a person who would have benefited from the HFAI program, I am inspired by students who have come to Harvard as a result of HFAI.”

The Undergraduate Admissions Council (UAC) and the undergraduate tour guides and greeters work year-round with campus visitors, welcoming and hosting prospective applicants overnight.  David Evans, co-director of the UAC, noted, “Current undergraduates have enormous credibility with prospective students who want to learn firsthand about the Harvard experience.”  Added Maxwell Dikkers, co-director, “The UAC provides a human face to the Harvard community.”  Co-director Jake Foley concurred, saying “We hear from students and families that UAC members help separate fact from fiction about what Harvard is really like on a day-to-day basis.”

Banks, director of visitor services and co-director of the student tour guide program, said, “Our tour guides and greeters see more than 40,000 visitors each year to Cambridge.  Their anecdotes about life in the College both inside and outside the classroom help lend a personal dimension to Harvard.”  Added co-director Ortiz, “We get many compliments from the public about our tour guides and their ability to relate to a wide range of people with the grace and humor.”  Bryce Gilfillian, assistant director, noted that “Many prospective students and their families from around the world see Harvard for the first time through our tour guides and often predicate their decisions about whether to apply based on this experience.”

Personal contact with admitted students will be important over the next few weeks.  Members of UAC, UMRP, HFAI, the admissions and financial aid staff, teaching faculty, and alumni will write, email, telephone, and meet with admitted students.

“Our careful admissions process allows us to get to know our admitted students well,” said Rachel Brown, yield activity coordinator.  “We write personalized notes to congratulate them and help them consider how Harvard might provide the right match for their interests.”

Harvard reaches out to students through a comprehensive digital communications program directed by Amy Lavoie and a social media recruitment program managed by Victoria Marzilli.  Working with assistant directors, Brown, Foley, and Gilfillian, Lavoie said that “Students today rely heavily on the Internet for information about higher education.  Through our website and student blogs, students from all over the world can get a wealth of information about the College.”  Added Marzilli, “Social media are increasingly important to students. And, through technology, we can meet them where they are to provide information about Harvard.”

To give admitted students the opportunity to experience Harvard life and meet future professors and classmates, a visiting program for admitted students is scheduled for April 26 to 28.  The program, known as Visitas, enables guests to sample classes, attend faculty panel discussions, concerts, receptions, department open houses, symposia, and events organized by extracurricular groups.  More than 1,400 admitted students are expected to visit during April, and 1,200 of them will do so during Visitas.

“Students admitted to Harvard have many attractive options, and meetings with faculty and future classmates can make a real difference to them,” said Visitas director Tim Smith.  “Many students decide to attend Harvard based on their Visitas experience.  We look forward to welcoming students home at Harvard,” he said.  Smith is assisted in this critically important program by Brown, Dikkers, Gilfillian, Ray, and Williams.

“Much of our success is due to our loyal 15,000 alumni volunteers,” said Brock Walsh, co-director of the Alumni Network for Schools and Scholarship committees.  “Their interviews remain important as we make our admissions decisions.  They are also essential to our recruiting, as they visit schools, call newly admitted students, and host gatherings for them in April.”   Added Caroline Weaver, co-director, “Their willingness to take time out of already busy lives to help assemble our class each year is vital to our efforts.”

Donahue and her financial aid colleagues will be available to speak with admitted students and their families on weekdays from March 28 until April 30 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT, and on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Visitas.  “We welcome students and parents who have concerns or questions about how to finance a Harvard education, including families who may not have applied for financial aid but who are interested in the wide range of available payment options,” she said.  “Our program offers assistance to all students and families, ranging from full financial aid to a number of financing alternatives: a monthly payment plan, the opportunity to prepay tuition at current rates, and a variety of parent loan programs that extend payments up to 15 years.”

“Students and their families are anxious to learn more about other forms of financial assistance, such as the Faculty Aide Program, the Harvard College Research Program, and the Dean’s Summer Research Program, all of which enable students to create paid partnerships with faculty members on academic projects of mutual interest,” said Meg Brooks Swift, director of student employment and the Harvard College Research Program.  “We stand ready to help them in any way we can.”

Admitted students have until May 1 to accept their offers.