Who Is Getting Into Harvard This Year

Main Building

Harvard’s Main Building

Legacy Status Upends Conventional Wisdom

Some people picture the Ivy League as a playground for the privileged children of alumni. But the truth is far different. In fact, only 27% of the class of 2018 is populated by legacies.  Of those, 12.3% had one parent graduate from Harvard (and 3.6% had two parents there). Again, this number is almost identical to Yale, where 12% of students had a parent who was a Bulldog alum. Another 7.5% of Harvard’s incoming class had sibling alums. And 10% had grandparents who donned crimson — and 15% had aunts, uncles or other relatives among Harvard’s alumni.

However, income seemingly makes a difference. 37.3% of incoming legacies had an alumni parent who earned more than $500,000 a year (with 23.6% of legacies reporting parental income between $250K-$500K). In fact, no legacy had an alum parent who earned less than $40K. Surprisingly, the highest percentage of legacies (21%) resides in urban environments. While nearly two-thirds of the class of 2018 grew up in the suburbs, only 14.5% of these students were legacies. Similarly, while 60% of the incoming class came from public schools, only 11.9% of those students were legacies.

Harvard From the Air

Harvard From the Air

Expect High Incomes After Graduation

Forget Dick Bove’s prediction of a 2018 recession! Harvard’s Class of 2018 expects big bucks coming out of the shoot, with 41.6% anticipating starting salaries of $70K or more (with 8.4% anticipating compensation of $110K or more). Ah, to be young again! Alas, the pragmatists – 31.5% – project salaries from $50K-$70K. And the cynics – all 8.3% of them – foresee starting wages under $30K.

In fact, expected income represents a true gender gap, as men – by a wide margin – assume the highest wages. For example, 11.2% of men – compared to 5.3% of women – predict they’ll earn $110,000 or more starting out. And the margin is even bigger at the $90K-$110K level. Conversely, women forecast lower wages for themselves, by a 34.6%-28.8% margin, at the $50K-$70K level (and a 25.2%-12.7% margin at the $30K-$50K level).

Parental income also plays a part in these lofty expectations, with 48% of students in households earning $250K or more expecting salaries exceeding $70,000 after college. In addition, certain majors tended to be more optimistic, as evidenced by computer science and engineering students– where the expectation of a $70,000 or more starting salary has risen from 46% to 57% over the previous year’s survey.

John Harvard

John Harvard Statue

Most Heading to Graduate School After Graduation

So where does the incoming class expect to go after graduation? That’s right: back to school. 24.6% expect to enroll in graduate school right after commencement, with another 22.6% hitting professional school (law, medical, and business) at the same time. In fact, only 1% (graduate) and 4% (professional) intend to put off further schooling in lieu of professional experience. Gender-wise, women plan to enroll in graduate and professional school at a 3% and 6.5% higher clip than their male counterparts. Conversely, a higher percentage of Harvard men intend to work in entrepreneurship (6.4% vs. 0.8%), finance (13.5% vs. 5.0%), and technology and engineering (10.8% vs.6.7%) than Harvard women.

At their 10 year reunions, 21.4% of the Class of 2018 is hoping to work in health care, followed by government (12.9%), engineering (12.1%), entrepreneurship (9.7%), finance (7.6%), arts, entertainment and sports (7.1%) and business (6.3%). Entrepreneurship, in particular, enjoyed a 4% uptick over the previous year’s survey.

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