Behind the Headlines

  • Getting into Harvard Used to Be a Breeze . . . or Did It?

    September 22, 2011
    written by

    In response to:

    "Remembering When College Was a Buyer's Bazaar"
    New York TimesMarch 31, 2011

    “Harvard: We’re easy to get into!”

    That could have been Harvard’s sales pitch back in the nineteenth century. America’s oldest college used to be so hard up for students that it would run newspaper ads right up until classes started. Ads trumpeted the fact that seven out of eight people who took the school’s entrance exam were admitted.

    That probably annoys the 94 percent of applicants whom Harvard rejects today. Except I’d like to see them pass the 1869 entrance exam that Harvard boasted was so easy. Go ahead, you try. I’ll wait. . . .

    How did you do?

    Harvard was still largely for blue bloods in the 1930s, but apparently it had relaxed its entrance requirements quite a bit by the time JFK filled out this application.

    (HT: Good.)

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