Giving Harvard a few extra days to sort through applications and possibly tighten screws on selectivity, Stanford retained bragging rights yesterday as the single most selective college in the county. Out of 42,487 applicants—the largest pool in Stanford’s history—1,402 high school seniors were tapped for the Class of 2019, in addition to the 742 early action students accepted in December.
And at 5.05 percent, this year’s undergraduate admissions rate is slightly lower than last year’s rate of 5.07 and lower than the numbers Harvard posted yesterday afternoon.
Make no mistake. Harvard’s selectivity was nothing short of breathtaking at 5.3 percent—the lowest in the Ivy League. On Tuesday evening, Harvard announced that 1,990 students had been selected out of a pool of 37,305 applicants for the Class of 2019. Harvard had already invited 977 students through its restrictive early action program, adding 1,013 students during the regular decision round.
But for the third consecutive year, Stanford bested Harvard as well as the rest of the Ivies at the selectivity game.
"We are honored by the interest in Stanford and the experiences shared by all prospective students through the application process," said Richard Shaw, dean of admission and financial aid (ironically the former Yale Dean of Admission—Harvard’s traditional 'old school' rival). "The young people admitted to the Class of 2019 will engage their undergraduate years at Stanford with energy and initiative. The opportunities at Stanford are limitless, and our newly enhanced financial support makes these opportunities more accessible than ever before."
In their respective admissions announcements, both Stanford and Harvard took the opportunity to describe special efforts to reach low-income and minority students.
At Stanford, an expanded financial aid initiative means that no parental contribution toward tuition will be expected for those with annual incomes below $125,000, and no parental contribution toward tuition, room or board will be expected for those below $65,000.
On the other side of the country, Harvard’s Dean Fitzsimmons credited an increase in diversity among admitted students with a targeted outreach effort, which clearly resulted in a greater total number of applications to the college on the Charles.
And both schools were successful in their plans to increase diversity among members of the Class of 2019.
But the competition doesn’t end with offers of admission.
While Stanford won the selectivity competition for the Class of 2019, the true test will come when numbers are tallied and final yield is computed. In other words, both schools will be anxiously awaiting responses from students they have admitted.
Harvard has traditionally boasted of a higher yield than Stanford, but even this difference is shrinking as more students elect to go west and reap the benefits of year-round sunshine. And if relative yields get much closer, there may be some changes at the top of the US News rankings.
This year, as in the past, both parents and students in The Princeton Review’s “College Hopes & Worries Survey,” said they would pick Stanford over Harvard, Princeton, and Yale if they could go to any school regardless of cost.
And it clearly concerns the folks in Cambridge, one of whom remarked, “Even if it isn’t the weather, make out parties, or chances of becoming a reality TV star that is drawing students to the west coast school, something about Stanford’s popularity is definitely on the rise.”
There’s no question about it. The weather is definitely nicer in Palo Alto and palm trees are a nice touch.
“I wonder how many of those admitted will accept Stanford's offer. After all, who wants to live in a farm with Spanish architecture and a bunch of ducks? Eww…,” remarked a commenter on the Stanford Daily website a couple of years ago.
Quite a few, evidently.
Disclaimer: In 2006, the author’s son turned down an offer from Harvard to head west to Stanford, and he’s still there.