Yale is choosier than Harvard

Reversing a long-standing trend in a “historic rivalry,” Yale’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2008 was lower than Harvard’s.

With an acceptance rate from the total pool of 9.9 percent, Yale edged Harvard, which had a 10.3 percent admit rate. The coup comes after both universities switched their admissions policies to single-choice Early Action, in which students may apply early to one school only, but need not commit until May.

Harvard, which fills a larger freshman class than Yale, only had about 100 more applications to the Class of 2008. But Yale admitted fewer students — 1,950, as opposed to the 2,029 at Harvard, The Crimson reported.

Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said the University’s admissions policies do not focus on beating Harvard but on “what works for Yale.”

“The historic rivalry always stimulates everybody’s interest,” Shaw said. “It’s incredibly competitive whether [the acceptance rate] is 9.9 or 10.3.”

Yale has not had a lower rate “in recent memory,” Shaw said.

“Not in my tenure here,” he said. “I’ve been here 11 years.”

The two will now compete for students admitted to both universities, Shaw said.

“If we go head-to-head with the students admitted to both schools, we want to win the kid,” he said.

But the acceptance rates are not final. Shaw said either school could end up going to its wait list, which would raise the acceptance rate.

“It’s conceivable that we could flip-flop,” Shaw said. “The early indicators are fine, but they aren’t the end of the story.”

In late May, the Admissions Office will have a better sense of the final numbers, Shaw said.

University spokesman Tom Conroy said Yale has recently seen a positive trend in admissions statistics.

“That is certainly satisfying because it underscores the progress that the University is making,” Conroy said.

Conroy said he thinks Yale’s investments in facilities, like the residential college renovations, have had a positive effect. Conroy said the campus looks more “inviting” now than it has in the past.

Conroy said he could not comment on the difference between Harvard and Yale’s acceptance rates.

“Amazing” students are accepted and denied at both universities, Shaw said.

“The good news is that frankly, the kids we can’t admit at either institution are going to land on their feet and get into amazing colleges and universities nationwide,” Shaw said.

Two groups of prospective students and parents stand outside Harvard’s Widener Library during a campus tour. Harvard’s acceptance rate was higher than Yale’s this year.
Britta E.Lindquist
Two groups of prospective students and parents stand outside Harvard’s Widener Library during a campus tour. Harvard’s acceptance rate was higher than Yale’s this year.

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