Harvard continues trend of accepting record low early admissions applicants to Class of 2022

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Harvard is continuing the trend of accepting a record low percentage of applicants to early admissions. (Source: Harvard Admissions Twitter)

Harvard College shattered many high school seniors’ dreams admitting their one of their lowest rate of early admission applicants to the Class of 2022. Harvard is one of the first of the Ivy League universities to notify students if they were accepted for early admission. Harvard College notified students by email on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 12, 2017, at 5 p.m. if they were accepted to the Class of 2022, rejected or waitlisted. Harvard admitted just 964 students out of 6,630 applicants, an admission rate of just 14.5 percent to their early admissions program. Harvard is the most selective Ivy League college, and the elite Stanford University only beats it in the country.

As has been the trend, Ivy League, and elite universities are becoming more selective, and their early action admission rates are falling after receiving a record number of applications. This year is no different if Harvard’s numbers are an indication the Ivy League and elite universities are continuing the trend and are on track for their most selective year as they choose the Class of 2022.

Although 964 lucky seniors were accepted to the holy grail of Ivy League universities, others were not as lucky. Among the remaining applicants, 73 percent or 4,882 students have another opportunity and they were deferred to the regular admission cycle. However, for 9.2 percent or 611 students the dream is over, they were outright rejected. There were an additional 173 students who did not properly complete their applications and they also have the opportunity to complete them for regular cycle consideration.

Harvard admitted nearly the same percentage of early applicants as last year a 14.53 acceptance rate this year versus a 14.49 percent rate last year an addition of less than a half percentage point. In December 2016, Harvard admitted their lowest number of early applicants, accepting just 938 students out of 6,473 applications to their early admissions program for the Class of 2021. Their admissions represented just 14.5 percent of the applicant pool down only 0.3 percent from 2015. In total for the Class of 2021, Harvard admitted 2,056 students out of a record of 39,506 applicants, to have a 5.2 percent acceptance rate.

William R. Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions and financial aid, commented to student paper The Harvard Crimson on the record number of early admissions’ applicants for the Class of 2022. Fitzsimmons expressed, “The one thing we can say with certainty is that the numbers rose this year. In general terms, it appears that more institutions had increases than the reverse… Early admission, in one form or another, is the new normal.”

Harvard’s Class of 2022 is even more diverse than last year, partially due to legal scrutiny. More minorities were admitted with 13.9 percent of early African-American applicants being accepted up from 12.6 percent of were admitted last year. This year saw a slight rise in Hispanic students accepted with 9.8 percent, up from 9.5 percent last year. Native American and Native Hawaiian applicants made in-roads with 1.8 percent accepted early up from last year’s paltry 1.1 percent. Of all groups, women saw their numbers decrease down one percent from 48 percent to 47 percent.

The minority group with the largest early acceptance rate was Asian-Americans with 24.2 percent accepted this year up from 21.1 percent in last year’s early admissions cycle. Harvard is facing an investigation into their admission rates of Asian Americans by the Department of Justice and a private lawsuit by former applicants. The DOJ began investigating Harvard’s affirmative action practices this past summer. The DOJ wanted the college to hand over is applications and student records and threatened to sue if they would not comply with Dec. 1. The DOJ is now contemplating Harvard’s counteroffer to allow the review of redacted student records

Harvard is also facing a separate private lawsuit by rejected Asian American applicants, who are accusing the college of discriminatory admission practices. The lawsuit is ongoing from 2014 where the college was accused of “employing racially and ethnically discriminatory policies” and that “Harvard’s undergraduate admissions policies and procedures have injured and continue to injure Plaintiff’s members by intentionally and improperly discriminating against them on the basis of their race and ethnicity in violation of Title VI.” The college is providing hundreds of thousands of former applications to comply with that lawsuit.

Harvard is also making an effort to accept more economically disadvantaged students. Among those admitted to early admission, 58 percent are asking for financial aid, and 13 percent needed application fee waivers, while last year only 10.7 percent made that request. More First-generation college students were admitted with 10.6 percent to the Class of 2022 up from 8.7 percent for the Class of 2021. Despite concerns about attracting international students, the rate admitted remains steady with 10.2 percent, and 2.3 percent from northern neighbor Canada.

Fitzsimmons noted early admissions usually see less diversity, but this year was an exception. Fitzsimmons told the Crimson, “Traditionally, early programs have tended not to reflect the excellence and diversity that you see out in the world, so one of the real pushes over the past decade or so-and part of it was giving it up and then bringing it back-is to make certain that people from all of those backgrounds do consider early. We’re delighted to see that we had greater economic and ethnic diversity not just in the pool, but in the admitted group.”

For the Class of 2022, Harvard intends to admit fewer students than to the Class of 2021. Fitzsimmons cited overcrowding in the Class of 2021 freshman as the reason for accepting fewer students this upcoming year. For the Class of 2021 much, more students accepted admission offers, leading to “twenty-eight freshmen living in DeWolfe, overflow housing typically reserved for upperclassmen.” The Dean of Admissions wants to admit also students off the waitlist this year. Last year they were unable to able to accept any students off the list. Fitzsimmons said in September his goal to accept “40 to 50 to maybe 100 people” off the waitlist. Now the Dean of Admissions says the college “will certainly be mindful of coming in on target” when it deciding admissions in the regular cycle.

Early decision is binding, meaning a student who applies and then is accepted is required to attend the university or college, while early action is non-binding, a student can be accepted and then decide against going to that particular school and can turn down their admission offer. Applying for early admission is not without its risks either, some schools have policies where if a student is rejected in the early admission cycle, cannot reapply for regular admission, however, some universities who do not accept students that applied for early admission, automatically consider them for regular admission.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University) is a Professional Librarian (CBPQ) & historian. Former editor @ History News Network & reporter @ Examiner.com.