The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper at Harvard, recently had an interesting article about the real admit rate at Harvard. And it isn’t pretty.
Once you take out the students admitted through the new early action program, the admit rate for students applying through regular decision is about 3%. Contrast that with the 18% admit rate for early action.
But for the typical applicant that 18% admit rate is somewhat misleading. In that number are most of the recruited athletes, the legacy students and the development students. These students are typically advised to apply early action to show their commitment to a school. We don’t have the actual numbers but I am confident that if all of this information was provided you would see that the admission rate for the student who doesn’t fit into one of those categories is much less than 18%.
Harvard is not alone in admitting athletes and legacy students in higher percentages and I am not going to argue the merits of that position right now. However, what applicants to Harvard, or any highly selective college, need to understand, is that there are many factors that need to be considered when a college says what its admit rate is.
That is why I tell students that are applying to any college with less than a 30% admit rate, they had better have some other colleges on their list where admissions is more of a sure thing. Because unless you are a legacy student or a recruited athlete, those admit numbers are probably less than you think.