What We Can Learn from Breakdown of Harvard Admission Stats-Class of ’22

Harvard, Back in the Day

I’m posting this recent article from the Harvard Crimson breaking down statistics for the just-admitted class of 2022, not to encourage applications to Harvard, but because it spells out just how complex the considerations are that go into getting accepted, beyond grades, scores and even extra-curricular activities.

For Harvard, fill in Stanford, Yale, and Princeton (HYPS for short), whose acceptance rates inch from 4.3% to 6.6% and vary slightly each year, depending on how many students apply. This past year, Princeton’s application pool rose 14%, to 35,000 students. As applications rise, acceptance rates decline — by tenths of a point. Universities are, of course, aware of this equation in the eternal “ranking wars” and make efforts of all kinds to increase their applicant pools to lower acceptance rates – and make their institutions seem even more desirable.

AS YOU READ WHAT FOLLOWS, please keep in mind:

The admissions officers at HYPS say that 70 or 80 percent of the applicants would be able to do the work at these universities. They say: We are not looking for perfection (4.0 GPA, 1600 SATs). They are looking for an interesting cross-section of highly talented students from a wide variety of backgrounds and places on the planet.

I am spelling all of this out NOT to discourage anyone from applying but to help applicants and their families realize that a B- grade in 9th grade or small variations in SAT scores are not going to make the deciding difference – a 710 vs taking the test again to get a 780 – with so many other factors at play. 

What’s important in the Crimson article for those considering admission to HYPS? This key sentence, a quotation from the Dean of Admissions, regarding the 1962 students granted admission for the class of 2022:  “They are quite an amazing cohort of people because they’re coming from the widest range of economic and ethnic backgrounds in our history.” 

Beyond all the factors that are within a student’s control – grades, scores, extra-curricular activities – it’s important to understand that diversity in college admissions is not just about race or ethnicity. It’s about:

Geography – Where you live; a super star student from Wyoming will stand out more dramatically than the one from New York City. But don’t panic, please! Yes, students from New York City DO get into Harvard.

Money – Ability to pay fees is most often an advantage but an accomplished student from a low-income family sometimes has another kind of advantage at well-endowed universities such as HYPS.

Parents’ education – There is a push now to enroll accomplished students from first-generation college families.

Special talent – It’s well-known that students who are top athletes are in great demand. They are considered in the early action/decision pools, and that’s one of the reasons the numbers for EA/ED are usually higher than RD.

I’m spelling this out because I want to encourage students and their families to go into this upcoming process with insight and understanding about what is often left unsaid: Yes, you have to be a top student to get into a top university, but that is not the only criterion on which decisions are based. Yes, HYPS are terrific places, but there are dozens more top colleges and universities where the odds are not so starkly stacked against you.  

My bible on where to look for colleges is The 382 Best Colleges, published every August by the Princeton Review (no connection to Princeton). Keep it on hand to find out what the 378 other colleges and universities are looking for, beyond HYPS. It’s a great resource for the entire family. 

Here’s the beginning of the Crimson article or click here to read it in its original form.   

“A record-low 4.59 percent of applicants to Harvard College received offers of admission to the Class of 2022 Wednesday, with just 1,962 of 42,749 candidates securing spots in the class. This year marks the first time Harvard’s admission rate has ever dipped below 5 percent.

“The College notified 998 students of their acceptance in the regular decision cycle at around 7 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. These accepted students make up 2.43 percent of the total 36,119 regular decision applicants, plus the 4,882 students deferred in the early action process. The accepted regular decision students join 964 students who were offered admission through Harvard’s early action process in December.

“This year’s acceptance rate is the lowest in the history of the College. Down from last year’s 5.2 percent, this year’s rate also marks the fourth consecutive year in which the percentage of admitted students has decreased. The total number of admitted students in the Class of 2022 has also decreased from last year’s 2,056.

“They are quite an amazing cohort of people because they’re coming from the widest range of economic and ethnic backgrounds in our history,” Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said in an interview Wednesday.

“For the first time in 10 years, a majority of accepted students are women. Women make up 50.1 percent of the admitted class, compared to last year’s 49.2 percent.

“The percentage of minority admits rose across racial groups relative to last year’s levels. A record 15.5 percent of admitted students are African American, up from last year’s 14.6 percent. Latino admits increased to 12.2 percent from last year’s 11.6 percent. Native American admits grew marginally this year to 2 percent, up from last year’s 1.9 percent. Asian American admits went up to a record 22.7 percent, compared to last year’s 22.2 percent. READ THE REST

— If you’re interested in more information on college admissions or in college application essay support or college selection, please contact me. Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com