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Harvard's Admissions Process

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Replies to: Harvard's Admissions Process

  • f.scottief.scottie Registered User Posts: 1,590 Senior Member
    >With an 80% yield rate, Harvard rarely goes to the waitlist.

    just one quibble: a school's waitlist use - and the extent of that use - in a given admissions cycle are determined not by its actual yield alone, but by the disparity between its actual and its estimated yield. for example, a school could have a 90% actual yield in a given year, but have estimated that 91% of admits would enroll, and thus have to go to its list to fill its class.
  • theoneotheoneo Registered User Posts: 6,934 Senior Member
    Byerly - I figured interviewers' comments would naturally be taken into account when evaluating each applicant's "personal qualities" score, alongside with teacher and counselor recommendations and the essay. After all, none of the application elements were directly referred to in the original post. Does that sound about right? Or are interviewers' comments considered separately?
  • ByerlyByerly - Posts: 7,019 Senior Member
    Many of the more active regional alumni groups are actively involved, and often consulted, right to the end. A few even "rank" applicants from their region.


    PS: scottie is right that there is no direct connection between the use of the waitlist and the yield rate. When a school projects its yield - and annoiunces its initial admit number based on that projection - it can never be certain exactly how many admits will accept the invitation. Thus the admit rates/yield rates announced in April, May or June are generally more optimistic that the "real" yield rates based on who shows up for classes.

    Incidentally, heavy use of the waitlist clearly affects the early "admit rate" projections, since 100 taken off the waitlist means 100 additional admits to fill the same number of slots. (Some colleges never acknowledge this, and continue to flog their initial "admit rate claims.) On the other hand, ironically, heavy use of the waitlist doesn't necessarily hurt the yield rate, since the marginal admits all come in with a nice, juicy 100% yield rate ... equivalent to binding ED, but at the other end of the admissions process.

    I once heard an anonymous admissions officer observe, wryly, that the "ideal process from the school's point of view" would be to take 100% of applicants from the waitlist. The yield rate, of course, would be a satisfying 100% as well, and the class could be perfectly assembled on a "piece by piece" basis!
  • theoneotheoneo Registered User Posts: 6,934 Senior Member
    Maybe that just isn't disclosed as readily as the information in the original post.
  • ByerlyByerly - Posts: 7,019 Senior Member
    Its certainly "disclosed" in Dov Fox's excellent book.

    Incidentally, there has always been a wealth of similar information on the Yale Alumni Schools Committee website. Unfortunately, Yale recently decided that it was *too much* information, and password-protected the site!
  • theoneotheoneo Registered User Posts: 6,934 Senior Member
    Expectedly so. I was referring to the fact that the OP seems to have garnered this information from direct communication with an admissions officer, who may not have disclosed that information either because it wasn't relevant to the stages of determining admissions decisions or because Harvard doesn't exactly want to make a big deal about it.
  • CozmoCozmo Registered User Posts: 367 Member
    Byerly-- internet archive have a copy, perchance?
  • epistrophyepistrophy Registered User Posts: 1,547 Senior Member
    Now, the final, or third, "portal" is much different than many other colleges. Each case is debated by all 35 admissions officers. (NB: This is why I personally believe that there is no luck in being accepted at Harvard.)

    I'm not sure that I understand this "NB" comment - or how it follows from what came before.

    If you have (as Harvard does) many more applicants who are equally strong by any objective criteria than you have openings, it seems to me that "luck" - defined in The New Oxford American Dictionary as "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions" - necessarily plays a significant role in the outcome, irrespective of how many individuals may participate in the decision-making process.

    With the exception of an extremely small percentage of applicants (whose admission would be virtually certain anywhere), anyone who's accepted at Harvard (or a similarly "selective" school) who doesn't believe that "luck" played a meaningful role in their acceptance seriously overestimates, in my view, (1) their own abilities and accomplishments (relative to the rest of the applicant pool), and/or (2) the ability of admissions committees (no matter what their number) to distinguish between applicants of essentially equal strength in ways that are meaningful, consistent, and reliable.

    Kids who are accepted at Harvard no doubt deserve to be. But they're no more deserving than any number of other kids who aren't.
  • FreshElephantFreshElephant Registered User Posts: 1,039 Member
    Tagging this thread.
  • finalefinale - Posts: 139 Junior Member
    "The file is at FDO, but should be at your House Office this fall."

    Interesting. I'll definitely be checking that out.
  • californiakidcaliforniakid - Posts: 328 Member
    The Stanford admissions officer actually sent me a personal letter telling me how much he liked my essay, and gave me comments on it. Too bad I had to say "no thanks."

    I wonder how helpful looking at the "sanitized" application will be. Interesting, nonetheless.
  • sonarsonar Registered User Posts: 666 Member
    Byerly-- internet archive have a copy, perchance?
    Don't forget Google's excellent cache.
  • Nameless8989Nameless8989 Registered User Posts: 57 Junior Member
    "An excellent and detailed book about Harvard and the admissions process was written two years ago by Dov Fox, '04.

    It is called "The Truth About Harvard: A Behind the Scenes Look at Admissions and Life on Campus" (2004, The Princeton Review, 235 pp., list price $13.95)"


    "The highest academic rating of one is reserved for students who rank first or second their high school class, score over 700 on at least five SAT tests, score 4 or 5 on at least three AP tests or 6 or 7 on three IB tests, and show academic initiative outside the classroom.... Roughly 10 percent of applicants to Harvard are given academic ratings of one.... Academic ones are virtual locks for admission."
    --Dov Fox, "The Truth About Harvard"

    xjayz, Byerly:
    Obviously the above quote is somewhat outdated (i doubt all 10% that were accepted were 1s), but does it still hold some merit? I'm a "one" by this definition, and, although I doubt that I'm a "virtual lock for admission," are ones still somewhat rare in the applicant pool? I don't know if any of you guys would have an answer, but I'm just curious to see what you think.
  • xjayzxjayz Registered User Posts: 1,654 Senior Member
    I don't believe that comment. Plenty of students fit that academic profile in terms of test scores. The first week of my first-year, I was sort of scared because I was one of the students who weren't #1 or #2 or had 700+ on everything and had APs up the wazoo (in fact, our school didn't offer many APs and limited us to 1 per year starting junior year).

    The main catch in Dov Fox's description is that the 1s have to "show academic initiative outside the classroom." It's not going to be joining the Academic Decathlon or the Science Bowl. It's more like winning a major science award like Intel or ISEF, qualifying and competiting in the USAMO, etc., publishing a book, etc.
  • ByerlyByerly - Posts: 7,019 Senior Member
    There is a difference between saying all "1's" tend to have X qualifications and saying that all those with X qualifications are "1's". Beyond that, I agree that this paragraph - on which people have commented before - is a bit garbled.
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