Shyanne A. Gardner was at the beach watching the sunset last Tuesday with her friends when 7 p.m. — the time for Harvard’s admissions decision release — finally arrived. After asking her friend whether she should check her admissions decision, Gardner ultimately decided to open her application portal.
She was immediately greeted with a video of students bedecked in Harvard paraphernalia boisterously waving “congratulations” signs.
“I was really nervous, but I was like, ‘It’s fine. It’s fine. It won’t even matter because I’m probably not going to get in,’” Gardner, a student from Freeport N.Y., said. “I wasn’t expecting it. I’ve seen decision videos where people start screaming and crying and running around, and I didn’t exactly do that. It was literally because I was in shock.”
Gardner joined 1,222 other students admitted to Harvard College in the regular decision cycle Tuesday. The College accepted 1,968 students total from a pool of 57,435 applicants, marking a record-low 3.43 percent of applicants admitted.
Allison “Ally” Chun, a prospective member of the Class of 2025 from Nanuet, N.Y., said receiving an acceptance after being deferred from the early action cycle was “a relief.”
“Because I got deferred, I had no expectation of getting into Harvard,” Chun said. “So when I saw the ‘Congratulations,’ I was crying, I was ballistic, I was in tears.”
Chun, who said she submitted an SAT score in her application, said she believes the test-optional policy allowed colleges to use a more holistic admissions process.
“For the non-SAT requirement, it was really good for allowing the college admissions process to look at the student holistically, and not just at grades,” Chun said.
Gardner said she was appreciative of the College’s decision to admit a full class of students to the Class of 2025 in addition to accommodating the 349 students who deferred admission from the Class of 2024.
“I think what the admissions department was looking to do was to give as many people as possible the opportunity to study at Harvard,” Gardner said. “If they had lowered the amount of people accepted, maybe I wouldn’t have been accepted, or some of the friends that I’ve made so far wouldn’t be going to that school this year.”
Aleksandra Denisenkov — an international student from St. Petersburg, Russia and a recruited athlete for the women’s swim team from the Class of 2024 who deferred to the Class of 2025 — said “it’s great because all of them deserve it” when asked about Harvard’s decision to admit a full class.
“They deserve to be there, I’m sure. They have a right to be there. And it shouldn't depend on our [Class of 2024 students] decision to defer last year,” she said. “So Harvard did well.”
Amy T. Liu, a Class of 2025 admit from Central Bucks High School South in Warrington, Pa., said she is most excited to meet her peers.
“It can be really isolating to just go through school and your daily activities, not being surrounded by peers,” she said. “So I’m super excited, even though a lot of the admitted students events — they’re all virtual.”
Dara C. Adamolekun, a Class of 2025 admit from Arlington High School in Arlington, Tenn., said getting into Harvard or any other selective school “doesn’t really define the work you did before."
“It’s just an accolade, or extension of what you’ve done,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean had I not gotten it, then all of a sudden that my work wasn’t validated. I just hope people understand that there’s not a university that can make you.”
—Staff writer Vivi E. Lu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Dekyi T. Tsotsong can be reached at email@example.com.