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Stanford surges while Harvard slips in early applications

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Early application numbers released late yesterday suggest that Harvard may be losing ground to Stanford among the nation’s top high school students.

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Even including incomplete and withdrawn applications in the official admissions office tally of 4,692, Harvard showed a three percent decrease in early applications received this year. Excluding ineligible applications, the early action pool actually went down by six percent.

Stanford, however, continued to attract huge numbers to its “restrictive” early action program and received 6,948 applications—a 14 percent increase over last year and the largest early application pool in Stanford’s history.

“We are delighted by the extraordinary interest demonstrated in Stanford University through our Restrictive Early Action program," said Richard H. Shaw, dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid. "We recognize the time and effort that goes into completing our application, and we are honored to have reviewed the applications of so many outstanding young people."

Although Common Application problems plagued the process for all institutions using the newly-overhauled form, Harvard is the only Ivy so far to show a decrease in early applicants. And Stanford’s 14 percent increase more than doubles gains announced by Brown (2%), Columbia (5.4%), Dartmouth (6.7%), Princeton (0.5%), Penn (6.6%), and Yale (5.6%).

Attempting to put a positive spin on the numbers, the Harvard Crimson emphasized a higher acceptance rate for early applicants and announced that the College made 992 offers—21 percent of the early applicant pool and 11 percent over the number of students accepted early last year.

Among those early applicants who were not offered admission yesterday, 3,197 were deferred to Harvard’s regular decision process, 366 were denied admission, 18 withdrew, and 115 submitted incomplete applications.

Stanford, on the other hand, accepted only 748 applicants or about 11 percent of the early pool. No further information about deferrals or denials was immediately available.

Under either early action program, admitted students are not obligated to attend and will have until May 1, 2014, to decide whether or not to accept an offer of admission to Harvard or Stanford. And students accepted to one are certainly welcome to apply to the other.

Maybe it’s the warm weather and the palm trees, but Stanford is proving to be more competition than Harvard’s traditional east coast rivals—Yale and Princeton.

For the first time last year, Stanford was more selective than Harvard, accepting only 5.69 of all applicants as compared to Harvard’s 5.8 percent.

And you can expect the rivalry to get more intense. In a press release discussing early results, Harvard announced that “Over the months ahead, faculty, staff, undergraduate recruiters, and alumni will use phone calls, emails, regular mailings, and social media to reach out to admitted students with information about Harvard.”

Based on past years’ experience, you can count on Stanford to do the same.

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