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Introducing a New Expert Content Section: Careers!

Harvard Will Accept Fewer Students in Class of 2022

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,579 Senior Member
"After an unusually large freshmen class crowded into Harvard Yard this fall, Harvard College will accept fewer students into the Class of 2022 in hopes of admitting more students off the waitlist, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said in an interview this week.

Due to the unusually large class size for the Class of 2021, twenty-eight freshmen are living in DeWolfe, overflow housing typically reserved for upperclassmen. Fitzsimmons said the Admissions Office is aiming to accept '40 to 50 to maybe 100 people' off the waitlist—last year, Harvard did not take anyone off the waitlist after a record number of admitted students matriculated. Fitzsimmons said the class was unusually large because fewer students deferred admission.

That change is one of several Fitzsimmons outlined for the upcoming admissions cycle in an interview with The Crimson on Tuesday." ...


Replies to: Harvard Will Accept Fewer Students in Class of 2022

  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 34,388 Super Moderator
    Not a surprise by any means; we've known since May that they were overenrolled for the Class of 2021, so it stranded to reason that they would accept fewer students this cycle.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 18,191 Senior Member
    I can see over-enrollment being an issue and wanting to correct for that, but why all the emphasis on taking students off the waitlist? Why would they really care to do that? Wouldn't it be ideal to just enroll the right number AND minimize going to the waitlist?
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 34,388 Super Moderator
    Wouldn't it be ideal to just enroll the right number AND minimize going to the waitlist?
    The challenge is guessing the yield correctly, which is what got them into trouble last year. The yield was higher than expected and they did not go the waitlist at all (except to offer some waitlisted students admission to 2022 - i.e. the z-list). So yeah, in a perfect world, they could assume a yield of X%, but only offer admissions based upon X-1%, but then they'd be criticized if they did that.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 18,191 Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Sure, of course. I just find it odd to repeatedly mention the waitlist like it is some intentional strategy. More like the Admission Director's fudge factor if he misses the mark. Seems like expectation management to me. Come May 1st, he can point back to that comment. :)
  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 Registered User Posts: 3,452 Senior Member
    My understanding is that most of the Boston colleges are overenrolled. Has there been buzz about that at Harvard? @skieurope
  • hannuhyluhannuhylu Registered User Posts: 325 Member
    I think overenrolled I think of my freshman year at a state college many moons ago 212 students in my Biology class. They should have just given me the textbook and said learn this for the lecture. Large classes suck imo I don't care how good the school is!!

    On topic I agree it is all about guessing the yield.
  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,366 Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    @doschicos wrote: I just find it odd to repeatedly mention the waitlist like it is some intentional strategy

    A waitlist IS an intentional strategy that most college's use, as yield (defined as the percent of students who choose to enroll in a particular college or university after having been offered admission) varies from year-to-year and is unpredictable. What other strategy would you suggest to manage yield in a non-binding admissions school?
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 18,191 Senior Member
    Replace the word strategy with "benefit", then. I think most colleges would prefer not to utilize their wait list if they had their druthers. Yes, it is a tool but I find it interesting that he seems to be touting its usage in his comments. It seems unusual to me.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 34,388 Super Moderator
    edited September 2017
    Has there been buzz about that at Harvard?
    You mean among current Harvard students? Not really. In the grand scheme of things, Harvard was not that overenrolled (~34 students), and it really only impacts first-years (i.e. 28 having to live in overflow housing, possibly impacting some getting into their first choice Freshman Seminar/Expos 20 section. For upperclassman, the larger first-year class won't impact us until next year as the extra needs to be absorbed into the Houses. But 34 students amongst 12 houses will not be that dramatic.
  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 Registered User Posts: 862 Member
    I think the wait list can be useful for yield management, but I don't think Harvard cares so much about that; they know that year in and year out they're going to have around 80% of their offers accepted, and they're not trying to impress anyone by showing how much higher their yield could be.

    Where I think the wait list is more useful for Harvard is when they want to replace someone who declined an offer with someone else who has a similar profile (maybe another academically strong candidate who happens to be a talented contrabassoonist). If they've overadmitted by underestimating their yield, though, they have no beds left and lose the flexibility to take that person off the wait list when the first-choice candidate chooses to go somewhere else.
  • melvin123melvin123 Registered User Posts: 1,139 Senior Member
    If it weren't Harvard, which has a huge endowment, I'd say it's so they can be need aware for the wait list kids. For schools that don't have large endowments, the money has to come from somewhere to pay the electric bill.
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 3,977 Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    @suzyQ7 at #5 - UChicago totally overenrolled as well. Official admission stats not yet released but we did find out that there are 1,740 enrolled first years (not including transfers - that's another 35 or so). That's out of about 2,250 admitted (we think) and almost 150 more than the previous year. They had to put upperclass students at a new luxury apartment complex nearby in order to make room in the res halls for the first years!
  • MastadonMastadon Registered User Posts: 1,582 Senior Member
    Tufts may hold the all-time record for miscalculating yield. In 1977 a new president (from Harvard) was appointed. Apparently he was more popular than expected. The number of students that chose to enroll was 350 more than expected (for a target class size of around 1200!). Tufts had to rent the Sheraton Commander hotel in Harvard Square (about 2 miles from Tufts). They put sophomores rather than freshman in the hotel. Freshman got a good deal out of it, because they lived on campus and they could take advantage of a continuous shuttle service to Harvard Square (which was a great place to hang out).

    BU, BC, Northeastern and MIT were also over enrolled that year, but not as badly. Interestingly, Harvard was not.

    It is best to err on the side of being conservative the year after you screw up your prediction. Harvard is doing the right thing, but I think they may be over explaining it for fear of being accused by their competitors of manipulating their admissions rate.

  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 694 Member
    Overenrollment even at a modest number can be a big issue for a university like Harvard. Their average clients (students and parents) have very high expectation about pretty much everything, including housing. At a typical university, the university can put overenrolled students in a nearby hotel. I do not think Harvard can do it without being laughed at by its peers.
  • MastadonMastadon Registered User Posts: 1,582 Senior Member
    edited September 2017

    I think that it is much more likely that Harvard's peers would be crying over their loss of cross admits and their precipitous drop in the revealed preference rankings,,, :-)
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