Applications for Early Harvard Admissions Dip

The number of students who applied to Harvard under the university’s early action program — giving them the possibility of an admissions decision in December instead of March — fell about 17 percent, the university said this week.

The deadline for the early phase of the admissions cycle was Nov. 1, by which time Harvard had faced more than three weeks of turmoil tied to Hamas’s attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli invasion of Gaza. The deadline was also just over four months after the Supreme Court, in a case involving Harvard, struck down race-conscious admissions programs.

In an announcement in The Harvard Gazette, the university’s official publication, the university said that 7,921 people had applied under its early action protocol, which does not require an accepted student to enroll. Last year, there were 9,553 early action applicants.

But early interest in Harvard was still up from just a few years ago. In 2019, for instance, the university received 6,424 early action applications.

The Gazette announcement did not include any speculation from the university about the reason for the decline, but Harvard officials have privately wondered how the Supreme Court’s decision affected applications.

Applicants began learning of Harvard’s early action decisions on Thursday night.

Yale reported a modest increase in early action applications, from 7,744 last year to 7,856 this year. Its acceptance rate declined a full percentage point, to 9.02 percent, while Harvard’s, 8.74 percent, increased by more than a full percentage point. Princeton, the only other Ivy League university to offer a nonbinding early admissions system, has not released any data for its anticipated Class of 2028.

Unlike last year, Harvard did not publish racial demographics of the students it admitted early. It did, however, report that a plurality of those students were from New England (22.3 percent), and that close to 17 percent were international students, an increase from about 14 percent last year.

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