Harvard College received 17% fewer early admission applications this year high school seniors, lowest total in four yearsaccording to the university’s website.
The drop comes after incidents of anti-Semitism on campus in the wake of the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. Applications were due Nov. 1, before university president Claudine Gay gave widely ridiculed testimony about anti-Semitism and free speech at a congressional hearing on December 5.
Harvard received 7,921 non-binding early admission applications this year, compared to 9,553 last year.
By contrast, at least two of Harvard’s Ivy League peers reported gains. Rival Yale University received 7,856 early applications this year, an increase of 1.4% and the second-highest number of early applications in its history, the school reported. Applications at the University of Pennsylvania increased to more than 8,500 from just over 8,000 last year, according to E. Whitney Soule, vice provost and dean of admissions.
Penn President Liz Magill resigned Saturday amid backlash for her testimony at the Congressional hearing on anti-Semitism, where she, Gay, and MIT leader Sally Kornbluth did not clearly condemn calls for genocide by Jews as a violation of school policy.
It is the first early registration period since the Supreme Court’s decision in June to ban race-based admissions in higher education, which raised questions about the impact on diversity and enrollment in American universities.
After the Hamas attack, cConsidered a terrorist group by the United States and the European UnionJewish Harvard students reported incidents of harassment, and Harvard leaders were criticized by alumni, donors, and others for failing to keep them safe.
The conflict has bitterly divided several elite schools, including Harvard, leading to a rise in anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses, as well as an increase in reports of Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian sentiments.
Bob Sweeney, a retired college counselor at Mamaroneck High School in New York, said the incidents of Anti-Semitism may be one of the factors in the decline in admissions.
“That’s possibly one of several reasons for concerns about campus safety.”said Sweeney, who worked as a counselor for nearly 30 years. “There may be other factors besides students being more realistic about their expectations and chances of acceptance.”
Harvard, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is being investigated by the Department of Education and the House Education Committee following Gay’s testimony.