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Harvard accepts 21 percent of early applicants for class of 2018

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  December 16, 2013 11:30 AM

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Harvard University, through its “early action” program, accepted 992 prospective students, or 21 percent of the 4,692 applicants, to join the class of 2018, campus officials announced.

The early action admission rate was higher than the 18 percent of applicants the university accepted early each of the past two years.

“This year’s applicants are remarkable by any standard. Their academic and extracurricular strengths are impressive — as is their ethnic, economic, and geographic diversity,” said a statement from William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. “The larger number of admitted students is another indication that early admission is the ‘new normal,’ and that more of the nation’s and the world’s most promising students apply early to college.”

For four years, from 2007 to 2010, the university said it did not offer early admission “due to concerns that such programs advantaged students who attended secondary schools that had more resources and better college counseling — while putting pressure on all students to make premature college choices.”

The university said it brought back its early action program two years ago “in the wake of the global financial crisis after it became clear that many students from low-income backgrounds were looking for the certainty provided by early financial aid awards.”

“In restoring Early Action, we have emphasized the fact that applying early is not an advantage at Harvard, and that students should take the entire senior year to make the best possible college choice,” said Fitzsimmons’ statement. “When a student applies — either early or regular — has no bearing on whether he or she will ultimately be admitted.

“Given the large numbers applying to Harvard in recent years, over 35,000, the admissions committee is careful to admit only those who are certain to be admitted later,” he added. “Last year, a significant number of students who were deferred in Early Action were admitted in the spring.”

Unlike “early decision” programs at some other schools, Harvard said its early action program does not obligate accepted students to attend.

Early action applications were sent notifications on Friday, officials said.

Along with those notified of their acceptance, another 3,197 were deferred and “will be considered again in the ‘regular action’ process,” while 366 were denied, 18 withdrew, and 115 were incomplete, campus officials said. Students considered through the regular action process will be notified on March 27, officials said.

University officials said the number of minorities admitted through early action increased this year.

Latino admissions climbed from 70 last year to 104 this year, said Marlyn E. McGrath, director of admissions. African-American admissions rose from 77 to 98, and Asian-American admissions increased from 193 to 209. Native Hawaiian admissions remained the same at two, she said. Native American admissions declined slightly from 14 to 9.

International student admissions increased from 66 to 83, while U.S. dual citizen admissions rose from 60 to 90, officials said.

“Three women in particular will add unusual diversity to the Class of 2018: one from Afghanistan, another from Iran, and the third is a Syrian refugee who applied from Lebanon,” said a statement from McGrath.

Harvard officials said they do not yet know the socioeconomic composition of the admitted group because many applicants have not yet submitted financial information.

But, preliminary data suggests 122 of the newly admitted students requested application fee waivers, compared to 64 last year, “a strong indication of substantial financial need,” said Sarah C. Donahue, financial aid director.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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