Harvard College accepted 3.43 percent of applicants to the Class of 2025 — 1,968 students out of the 57,435 who applied — marking the lowest admissions rate in College history in a year that saw an unprecedented surge in applications.
This year’s record-low admissions rate is down from the 4.92 percent of students admitted to the Class of 2024 and eclipses the previous record-low 4.50 percent of applicants admitted to the Class of 2023. The College saw a record-high number of applicants this year, surpassing the previous record of 43,330 applicants to the Class of 2023 and increasing 43 percent from the 40,248 students who applied to the Class of 2024.
The Admissions Office notified 1,223 applicants of their acceptances in the regular decision cycle at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening. They join the 747 students admitted through the College’s early action program in December. Alongside several peer institutions that saw a similar jump in applicants this year, Harvard pushed its regular decision notification date back by a week.
In a Tuesday interview, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 described the admitted class — the first to go through an entirely virtual admissions cycle — as “heroic” and having “unprecedented diversity.”
“We have the most diverse class in the history of Harvard this year, economically and ethnically,” Fitzsimmons said. “This is an incoming group of students who’ve had experiences unlike any experiences first-year students have had in the history of Harvard or history of higher education.”
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay wrote in a Tuesday press release that the College chose to admit a full class despite the 349 students accepted to the Class of 2024 who deferred their admissions.
“Harvard is committed to opening the doors of opportunity to all talented students, even if it means confronting the challenge of accommodating more students on campus next year,” Gay wrote.
Fitzsimmons said the decision to admit a full class marks a “watershed year” and demonstrates Harvard’s commitment to maintaining a sense of normalcy in the composition of the Class of 2025.
The percentage of Asian American admits increased to 27.2 percent compared to last year’s 24.5 percent, with Asian Americans remaining the largest minority group among the admitted cohort. African American or Black students make up 18 percent of the admitted class, a significant increase from the 14.8 percent of the previous class; the percentage of Latinx admits rose slightly to 13.3 percent, from 12.7 last year. The percentage of Native American students decreased slightly to 1.2 percent from 1.8 percent in the previous class, and the percentage of Native Hawaiian students increased to 0.6 percent from 0.4 percent in the Class of 2024.
Women comprise a majority of the admitted class at 52.9 percent, an increase from last year’s 51.6 percent.
“The fact that we’re nearly 53 percent female is a great milestone, something that — when we first started out in the early ’70s trying to make Harvard better — was really only a dream,” Fitzsimmons said.
This year’s admitted class also includes 19 veterans and 40 students interested in ROTC, compared to 13 veterans and 47 ROTC prospects last year.
The admitted Class of 2025 represents students from all 50 states and 94 countries. Roughly 20.4 percent of the admitted class hails from Mid-Atlantic states, followed by 19.8 percent from the South, 17 percent from Western and Mountain States, 16.4 percent from New England, and 11.9 percent from the Midwest. Students from U.S. territories and abroad make up 14.5 percent of the admitted class.
The Admissions and Financial Aid office projects that 55 percent of the admitted class is eligible for financial aid, with an average expected family contribution of $12,000 annually. Of the admitted students, 20.7 percent are first-generation students and 20.4 percent qualify for Pell Grants, which are typically awarded to low-income students.
“It’s very gratifying — this is the first time that Harvard has broken 20 percent in terms of first-generation college students. And it’s the first time we’ve broken 20 percent for Pell Grant recipients,” Fitzsimmons said. “The economic diversity is certainly something we’ve never seen before on this scale.”
The College plans to introduce the admitted class to life at Harvard through an online, weeklong Visitas — a remote program similar to the month of Virtual Visitas events held for the previous year’s admitted class.
Although Harvard announced last month that the College plans to house all students in University housing and teach classes in person in the fall, final plans will not be released until May.
Asked about what the incoming freshmen should expect this fall, Fitzsimmons said, “I wish I had a crystal ball.”
“We are hopeful,” he said. “The way the world looks on April 6 could look very different on May 6. We’re doing the best we can to plan for all the possibilities that would be in front of us in the fall.”
Fitzsimmons added that he believes the remote admissions process was effective, and that he foresees maintaining some virtual aspects in future admissions cycles, such as recruiting students through Zoom.
“Zoom actually provided an enormous amount of convenience,” he said. “There’s no question we will continue to use Zoom and to refine the use of Zoom.”
Fitzsimmons said he hopes the unprecendented diversity of the incoming freshman class inspires future applicants.
“Success begets success,” he said. “You admit people from a new high school, and it gives all the other students at that high school the idea that maybe they, too, can come to Harvard.”
Admitted students have until May 3 to accept or decline their spot in the incoming freshman class.
—Staff writer Vivi E. Lu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Dekyi T. Tsotsong can be reached at email@example.com.