Harvard Accepts 14.5 Percent of Early Applicants

The pool is more socioeconomically and racially diverse than last year's.

Harvard gate

Photo via iStock/marvinh

The college admission process is a stressful, drawn out, overwrought beast. It’s a series of orchestrated steps and checklist items (become club president, join the volleyball team, get straight-A’s, ace an alumni interview, cross your fingers) that builds and intensifies with each successive fall. But for 964 students, Harvard College said the effort has paid off.

On Tuesday, the college offered 14.5 percent of the students who applied to the school early admission a spot in the freshman class. The 6,630 applications that Harvard received ahead of the November 1 deadline was the largest batch since the school brought back an early option in 2011, according to the Crimson. The 14.5 percent early admit rate is roughly the same as last year, when just 5.2 percent of all applicants got into the school.

For many students who weren’t accepted in the early pool, there’s still hope. Roughly 74 percent of the early admission applicants were deferred to the regular decision pool, while around 9 percent of students were rejected outright.

In September, William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, said earning a spot in the class of 2022 would be even more competitive than usual. The current freshman class is unusually large, and this time around, admissions officers are hoping to accept more students off the waitlist, according the Crimson.

Early admission programs are often criticized for giving a leg up to wealthier applicants who can tap into their networks to learn about the advantages of applying before the regular deadline. A Harvard University Press study estimated, for example, that students who apply early receive about a 100-point SAT score bonus, according to Inside Higher Ed. Obviously, the volume of early applications in the early pool is smaller, so there are inherently better odds of securing a spot, but many of those spots, as former Harvard President Derek Bok said in 2006, “tend to advantage the advantaged.”

And yet, this year’s pool of early admits to Harvard is more racially and economically diverse than year’s past. The Crimson reports the group is 13.9 percent African American; 9.8 percent Latino; and 1.8 percent Native American and Native Hawaiian. Notably, the percentage of admitted Asian American students grew from 21.7 percent in 2016 to 24.2 percent this year. Harvard faces a private lawsuit and an inquiry from the Department of Justice regarding its alleged discrimination against Asian American applicants in its admissions process.

Additionally, the Crimson reports that first-generation students comprise roughly 10.6 percent of the group, and nearly 58 percent of the 964 students accepted early have applied for financial aid.

Harvard’s regular decision application deadline is January 1, but if you’re feeling a little bit jaded in the meantime, this video of 16-year-old Ayrton Little from Opelousas, Louisiana, opening his Harvard acceptance letter should thaw that cold heart.