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Harvard Admits 6.2% of Undergrads as Applications Hit Record

Pedestrians walk past a statue of former Princeton University president John Witherspoon near the Firestone Library on the school's campus in Princeton, New Jersey. Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg
Pedestrians walk past a statue of former Princeton University president John Witherspoon near the Firestone Library on the school's campus in Princeton, New Jersey. Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

March 30 (Bloomberg) -- Harvard University accepted 6.2 percent of its freshmen applicants as more students than ever before sought an undergraduate education at the university and its fellow Ivy League institutions.

Yale University and Princeton University offered seats to 7.4 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, of their applicants, the smallest percentages of admissions at both institutions as applications jumped to record highs.

Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, admitted 2,158 of its record-high 34,950 undergraduate applicants, William Fitzsimmons, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid, said today. The institution admitted 6.9 percent of its applicants last year. Harvard is the richest U.S. university with an endowment valued at $27.4 billion as of June 30.

The university seeks the “most talented students,” from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds from across the country and the world to ensure it isn’t limiting the pool to affluent students, Fitzsimmons said in an interview. The number of applications this year increased by 15 percent.

Yale admitted 2,006 of 27,282 applicants to the freshman class for the 2011-2012 school year, Jeffrey Brenzel, dean of undergraduate admission for the institution in New Haven, Connecticut, said today in an e-mail. Yesterday, Stanford University said it accepted 7.1 percent of those seeking seats.

‘Daunting’ Process

While applying to selective colleges is “daunting” for students because of the low admission rates, they shouldn’t seek a spot at Stanford just for vanity’s sake, said Bob Patterson, director of admission for the university near Palo Alto, California, said yesterday in an interview.

“Students are applying to more and more institutions and they can ultimately choose one,” Patterson said in an interview. “We don’t want students who are just applying to see if they can get admitted.”

Stanford accepted 2,427 students. The number of applications at the institution increased 6.8 percent from last year for the university, the third-wealthiest in the U.S. with an endowment valued at $13.8 billion as of Aug. 31. Stanford plans to enroll 50 more first-year students than last year because of increased dormitory and classroom space, Patterson said. It cost $55,385 to attend Stanford in the current 2010-11 academic year.

1891 Founding

Stanford, which opened in 1891, counts among its alumni Herbert Hoover, the 31st U.S. president; Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google Inc., based in Mountain View, California; and Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy, U.S. Supreme Court associate justices.

Princeton offered spots to 2,282 students, or 8.4 percent of applicants, the university in Princeton, New Jersey, said in a statement. Princeton accepted to 8.8 percent of applicants a year earlier, and 10.1 percent for the 2009-2010 academic year, the university said.

“Our competitive acceptance rate continues a trend Princeton has been experiencing over the last several years,” Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said in the statement. “We have always focused on the quality of our pool, more than its size, yet this year we were impressed by both the size and quality of the applicant pool.”

Princeton was founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey. Alumni include first lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Alumni of Harvard, founded in 1636, include Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. Yale was founded in 1701, and alumni include U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Harvard, Yale and Princeton are members of the eight Ivy League colleges in the northeastern U.S.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janet Lorin in New York

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at

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