The number of undergraduates enrolled at Harvard this fall semester slightly topped the College’s enrollment projections in early August.
As of Wednesday, the last day students could announce a leave of absence without incurring any fees or tuition costs, 5,382 undergraduates were enrolled for the fall, according to College spokesperson Rachael Dane. She also noted that the College is hosting 36 visiting students this semester.
Dean of the Faculty Arts of Sciences Claudine Gay originally projected that roughly 5,231 undergraduates would enroll this fall after surveying students about their plans. Though figures fluctuate slightly each year, Harvard had 6,755 enrolled undergraduates last year, per Common Data Set filings.
The Class of 2022 is now the College’s smallest cohort, with just 1,242 enrolled juniors, per the College’s current data. By comparison, the senior and sophomore classes number 1,347 and 1,378 members respectively. The newly-minted Class of 2024 — many of whom Harvard invited to live on campus — is the largest of the bunch, boasting 1,415 members. The freshmen class outnumber others despite its 340 members who deferred enrollment. Under typical circumstances, between 80 and 110 Harvard students take a gap year, according to the College’s website.
After Harvard announced it would only bring freshmen and select upperclassmen with extenuating circumstances back to campus and conduct its courses entirely online in the fall, many undergraduates expressed interest in taking a leave of absence. Students specifically said that the perceived lower quality of online learning, time zone difficulties, and the dearth of social interaction would deter them from enrolling.
The College administration has repeatedly assured students that it is committed to re-imagining virtual pedagogy and forging a remote community, including through an initiative dubbed “Harvard Everywhere.” Administrators also warned those considering a leave that — in keeping with past policy — they would lose their eligibility to participate in extracurriculars during their absence, as well as their priority for on-campus housing upon their return.
Despite this messaging, nearly 20 percent of undergraduates remained committed to taking a leave. Those who did choose to enroll are still free to take time off for much of the fall, but will now incur fees and tuition costs if they choose to do so.
—Staff writer Juliet E. Isselbacher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @julietissel.
—Staff writer Amanda Y. Su can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandaysu.