Students applying to Harvard this coming year and in subsequent years might be frightened by a piece up on “Business Insider” by Abby Jackson entitled “Nearly 40,000 people applied to Harvard this year — experts say it’s harder than ever to get into elite schools.” But these students shouldn’t be frightened because the headline is misleading. Indeed even Abby Jackson’s piece doesn’t support the argument that it’s getting harder than ever to get into Harvard.
As we’ve been saying for years and years on the pages of our college admissions blog, in the press, and anywhere we can find a soapbox, a highly selective university receiving more applications does not necessarily make that university more selective — or more difficult to get into. Think about it this way: If hundreds of ‘C’ students applied to Harvard this year, would it make it more difficult for you to earn admission to the university? No. As Mark Twain so famously once taught the world, there are “lies, damned lies and statistics.”
Assuming that a university is getting harder and harder to get into because the admission rate keeps getting lower and lower isn’t necessarily an accurate assumption.
The fact is that all highly selective colleges, including Harvard, are getting better and better over the years at getting students — both qualified and unqualified students — to apply. The more students who apply, invariably the lower the admission rate will be, and the higher the university will be ranked in “US News & World Report.” And if a college tells you that they don’t care about their “US News & World Report” ranking, smile, nod, and know in your heart of hearts that you were just told a lie. Because every single college cares about their “US News & World Report” ranking.
But Abby Jackson’s piece presents another argument — that highly selective colleges are getting better and better in particular at getting international students to apply. Students with perfect or near-perfect grades and perfect or near-perfect test scores. But while there has been an influx of international applicants these last several years, many of them are competing against one another. Sure, one could make the argument that if a school used to admit a class in which 10% of students hailed from nations outside the United States and now that same figure is 20% — that fewer American students are being offered admission. But here is an alternative argument, not to be confused with “alternative facts.” Writes Jackson, “The increase in international applicants, therefore, while it may drive down the overall acceptance rate, likely has less impact on US applicants than is sometimes believed.”
Thinking of applying to Harvard University? What are your thoughts on the piece up on “Business Insider”? We’re curious to hear from you so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to jump in on the conversation.
It’s fairly standard in highly selective college admissions to read that applications at a given university reached an all-time high and that it’s “more competitive than ever.” As regular readers of our college admissions blog, you know well by now that more applications does not necessarily mean that the pool of applicants is “more competitive than ever.” That, in highly selective college admissions, is a big fat myth. But this year, two Ivy League colleges experienced a decrease in applications. Applications to Harvard as well as to Dartmouth are down this year, with Dartmouth’s applications significantly down.
In all, Harvard received 34,295 applications this year, down from 35,023 last year. This marked a 2.1% decrease in total applications to the university. Of the candidates, fewer students applied from New England, the Midwest, and abroad. Harvard is generally attributing the decline to demographic shifts. As stated in an article on applications to Harvard in “Bloomberg,” “The contraction in the number of U.S. high-school graduates began with the class of 2012 and future increases will be minor and temporary, according to a 2013 report from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Harvard had ‘geographic shifts’ in areas where the report projected decreases, such as a 5.8 percent decline from the Midwest and a 5.1 percent drop from New England, Marlyn McGrath, director of admissions, said in the statement. Harvard also had 3.4 percent fewer international students apply.”
Dartmouth also attributed their more significant decline in applications to demographic shifts. We’ll be writing more about the decline in applications to Dartmouth in the coming days. In the meantime, have a question about applications to Harvard? Let us know your questions by posting them below!
Ivy Coach was cited today in an article in “The Harvard Crimson” concerning the projected admit rate for applicants to Harvard. According to the piece by Elizabeth S. Auritt, “Although Harvard College saw 1.9 percent fewer applications this year, the acceptance rate looks likely to decrease nevertheless. Since the admissions office plans to count on a yes from the vast majority of students accepted through its renewed early action program, Harvard may admit as few as 3 percent of the students waiting to hear their decisions this Thursday.” As few as 3% could be admitted! You read that number right. Tough odds, eh?
Last year, 6.2% of applicants to Harvard were admitted. This year, that number could drop to 5.5%, according to projections by “The Harvard Crimson.” If you’re curious as to how “The Harvard Crimson” came up with this figure, check out their math through this video on Harvard applications. Cool stuff, right? The projected size of the incoming class will be roughly the size of last year’s incoming class – 1,661. And in December, 772 acceptance letters were already sent out.
As quoted in the article, if our students apply to Harvard through Early Action and get in, they matriculate to Harvard. Without hesitation. It’s just how it is! And that certainly isn’t the case at many schools. But Harvard is different. Harvard is Harvard. If you were admitted to Harvard through Early Action, would you attend? Our bet is you would. But let us know your thoughts on the matter by posting below!
Check out this post on Linsanity and Harvard Admissions.