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Harvard College announced today that 772 of 4,231 applicants for nonbinding early admission had been accepted. The College reinstated early admission as an option for the class entering next fall, after a four-year period of offering only the common, regular admission procedure.

According to the news release, fewer early applicants were admitted this year than in the recent past, even with a larger early-action pool. William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, cited the growth in total applicants (to nearly 35,000 last year) as a reason for being more discerning in granting early admission.

Among applicants not granted admission now, 2,838 were deferred for regular action with the rest of the applicant pool, with decisions announced in early spring; 546 applicants were denied admission; and the remainder either withdrew or submitted incomplete applications.

Those admitted from the early-applicant pool this year are, according to the news release, “more diverse ethnically than any previous early cohort” and “comparable with the current freshman class. Although it is difficult to make precise comparisons to previous years because of changes in federal requirements concerning collecting and reporting race and ethnicity information, 9.6 percent of admitted students this year are African-American, compared with 7.2 percent the last time Harvard had early action. There was a similar increase for Latinos (9.9 percent vs. 7.9 percent) and Native Americans and Native Hawaiians (1.7 percent vs. 1 percent), and a slight decrease for Asian Americans (22 percent vs. 23 percent). The current freshman class is 19 percent Asian American, 10 percent African-American, 10.2 percent Latino, and 1.7 percent Native American and Native Hawaiian.”

The College tracks such data because one rationale for dropping early action four years ago was its presumed adverse effect on applicants from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds, whose schools, for instance, might have less adequate guidance counseling.

The effect on financial diversity, however, is still unclear: according to the news release, “It is still too early to determine the socioeconomic composition of the admitted group because many students have not yet submitted financial information.”