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Class of 2025: Despite Pandemic, Early Decision Sees Increased Diversity

On December 11, 2020, at 7:00 PM EST, Haverford released its early decision results, just ten days after the first 20 members of the Class of 2025 were named on QuestBridge match day. The early decision date added an additional 159 students to the new class of Fords, bringing the current total to 179 students. At this time last year, 189 students had been selected for the Class of 2024, but this ten-student inconsistency is not the only difference between the early Class of 2025 and that of 2024.

Since the Class of 2024 early decision applicants were selected, most Fords would agree that a lot has happened to the Haverford community. Most notably, the majority of the student body, along with a handful of faculty members, went on strike (from work, classes, and extracurriculars) for two weeks in an effort to expose the biases of the college against BIPOC students and create meaningful change on campus. The goals and demands of the strike were outlined in a seven-page letter written by the strike’s BIPOC student organizers from the Women of Color House, Black Students Refusing Further Inaction, and the Black Student League. 

One of the first grievances that the strikers addressed in their letter was in regard to Haverford’s admission of BIPOC applicants, specifically indigenous students. The organizers pointed out that Haverford’s campus sits on land “cultivated by Lenni Lenape people for over 10,000 years,” yet “currently, less than 1% of the student body identifies as Native.”

Whether the admissions committee was responding to this criticism or not in December, it is interesting to note that the percentage of students in the early decision Class of 2025 identifying as Native (1.1%) was double that of students accepted early for the Class of 2024 (0.5%). However, because this year’s early decision class is made up of just 179 students, this only represents one additional student.

Overall, the early decision Class of 2025 saw over a 20% increase in the percentage of students of color accepted over the early Class of 2024 (49.2% vs. 40.3%), including a more than 50% increase in the percentage of Black students accepted (14% vs. 9%).

The percentage of Latinx students making up the early Class of 2025 increased slightly to 12.3% from 12%, and that of Asian or Asian American students increased to 23.5% from 17.8%. The early Class of 2025 also boasts a slightly larger percentage of international students and representation from 16 countries as compared to 12 in the early class of 2024. However, the percentage of first-generation students decreased slightly from 16% to 14.5%.

While the final makeup of the class has yet to be determined, it is likely that we will see an overall increase in the number of students of color, particularly Black and Native students, that are accepted this year as compared to last. An increase in enrollment diversity would be consistent with the broader demographic trends within Haverford’s student body during each of the five most recent school years.

But because of the pandemic, consistency with admissions trends of previous years was not a given. Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jess Lord expressed concerns that obstacles posed by COVID-19 would impact this year’s applicant pool, specifically its racial and ethnic diversity: “Going into this year I had a lot of concerns about the ways that COVID might impact the admission process, including early decision… We worried a lot about the inequities in how the pandemic is impacting people – especially by class and by race – and how that might be negatively impacting students in their college search process.”

However, it appears that the pandemic has not hindered Haverford’s ability to diversify its student body thus far. Dean Lord noted that the admissions office “did not see major shifts” in either the QuestBridge or the early decision applicant pools.

In mid-February, more members will be added to the Class of 2025 via the early decision II applicant pool, and the class will likely be finalized in May, at which time a complete comparison of the new class’s demographics to that of previous classes can be executed.

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