In recent months, Harvard University has faced a series of controversies that have directly impacted its early admission application numbers. The prestigious institution has witnessed a 17 percent decrease in applications, marking a four-year low.
The decline in applications comes in the wake of highly publicized antisemitic protests and the university’s perceived inability to respond effectively. President Claudine Gay’s failure to condemn calls for Jewish genocide has sparked outrage among students, alums, and the wider public.
According to reports, Harvard received 7,921 applications from high school seniors for undergraduate admission this year, compared to 9,553 applications in the previous year. This drop in numbers suggests growing concerns regarding the safety and inclusivity of the Harvard campus.
Bob Sweeney, a retired college counselor from Mamaroneck High School, believes that the application decline may be attributed to worries about campus safety. He suggests that potential applicants may be deterred by the ongoing protests and incidents of antisemitism at Harvard.
Interestingly, Harvard’s Ivy League competitors seem to be faring better regarding early application numbers. Yale University, for instance, experienced the second-highest application total in its history, indicating that students are still drawn to other prestigious institutions despite the challenges faced by Harvard. The University of Pennsylvania has also seen a significant increase of 500 applications compared to last year.
It is worth noting that the drop in applications occurred before President Gay’s controversial House testimony, which has further fueled the ongoing debate. The protests and incidents of antisemitism on campus, however, had been ongoing for several weeks before the application deadline.
One incident that particularly alarmed the Harvard community was the signing of a letter by over 30 student groups, in which they placed the blame solely on Israel for the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7. This letter further intensified concerns about the university’s stance on antisemitism and its commitment to fostering a safe and inclusive environment.
In addition to the decrease in early admission applications, Harvard is also facing the threat of reduced alum donations. More than 1,600 alumni have reportedly expressed their intention to halt donations to the university, citing the institution’s handling of the antisemitic controversies as the primary reason.
The decline in early admission applications and the potential loss of support from alums highlight the urgency for Harvard to address these concerns effectively. The university must take decisive action to condemn antisemitism, promote inclusivity, and restore confidence among prospective students and alums.