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Harvard early applications fall 17% to four-year lows

<i>Steven Senne/AP</i><br/>Passers-by walk on the campus of Harvard University
Steven Senne/AP
Passers-by walk on the campus of Harvard University

By Matt Egan and Laura Dolan, CNN

(CNN) — Early applications at Harvard declined by 17% to four-year lows, according to figures released Thursday.

Harvard College accepted 692 students for the Class of 2028 from a pool of 7,921 applicants. The acceptance rate was 8.7%, up from 7.6% last year.

Early admission applicants to Harvard spiked above 10,000 in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic but have since declined.

The latest drop in early applications for undergraduate studies at Harvard College comes during a tumultuous time at Harvard and elite schools broadly, especially amid fierce criticism over their handling of antisemitism on campus.

The Class of 2028 also marks the first admissions cycle after the US Supreme Court gutted affirmative action in college, ruling the Harvard and University of North Carolina admissions programs were unconstitutional.

It’s unclear how much those issues contributed to the decline.

Applications for early admission at some of Harvard’s peers increased. Early applications at Yale increased slightly and the acceptance rate reportedly fell to two-decade lows. Duke saw a record number of early admission applications, while Columbia’s applications increased for the first time in three years.

Even the University of Pennsylvania, where antisemitism allegations have been in the spotlight for months, saw an increase in early admission applications, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Harvard representatives were not immediately available for a comment.

The cutoff date for early admission at Harvard was November 1.

Harvard faced criticism — even from its own board — for initially failing to unequivocally condemn the October 7th Hamas terror attack. School officials also came under fire for how they responded to a letter signed by a coalition of student groups that solely blamed Israel for the terror attacks.

More recently, Harvard President Claudine Gay faced calls to resign following testimony before Congress where she fumbled a response over whether calls for genocide of Jews would violate the university’s rules. Gay later apologized for the disastrous testimony.

Aly Beaumont, owner of college coaching service Admissions Village, told CNN she had two top students drop Harvard from their application list for regular decision after the school’s handling of events on campus following October 7th.

Another student who applied early decision to UPenn considered pulling her application from the Ivy league school, but reconsidered after President Liz Magill resigned, Beaumont said. The student was accepted in the school’s early decision round.

Beaumont’s Admissions Village advises 51 seniors, half of whom had SAT scores over 1500, she said.

Harvard’s top board announced Tuesday it has decided to keep Gay in place, offering her its unanimous support.

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