The number of early decision applications decreased for the third year in a row, admissions officials announced yesterday.This year, 3,610 students applied early to Penn - an almost eight-percent drop from last year's 3,917 early applications.As in years past, about 30 percent of this year's early decision applicants will be accepted, said Dean of Admissions Eric Furda. Those admitted will make up a projected 48 percent of the class of 2013, he said.In 2004, Penn received 3,420 applications for its early decision program. Early applications peaked in 2005, when it jumped to 4,148, and has declined each year since then."We are definitely seeing something," Furda said in reference to the lower number of applications.He cited Harvard and Princeton universities' decision to end their early application programs last year and the economic crisis as possible reasons for the decline.Brown University - another school with a binding early decision program - saw a similar drop in early applications this year. According to The Brown Daily Herald, the university saw an about four-percent decrease in early applications.But at Dartmouth, early decision applications are up about 10 percent this year, according to The New York Times.Furda noted that the past three years have seen an increase in applications to non-binding early action programs.The Yale Daily News reported that early applications at Yale University rose about 10 percent this year. At Stanford University, they rose 18 percent and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by 25 percent, according to The New York Times. All three schools have non-binding early action programs.Furda wrote in an e-mail that as a result of recent layoffs and the collapse of the financial service industry, fewer students applied to Wharton than in past years. Only 29 percent of the total early decision applications applied to the school .Fifty-seven percent of early decision applicants applied to the College, 12 percent to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and two percent to the School of Nursing.While, as usual, almost half of this year's applicants hail from the Mid-Atlantic, the number of applicants from California dropped from 332 last year to 292 this year.This number is "soft" compared to last year's, Furda said, particularly since the University had increased recruiting efforts in the state this year. Despite the drop, he said Penn will continue its strong California recruitment efforts due to the size and demographics of the state.In addition, he said next year's recruitment will have an increased focus on the Southeast United States, from Texas to Florida.International applications remained relatively stable, with 602 applicants compared to 605 last year.The gender distribution also stayed fairly even with 46 percent female applicants, up from 45 percent in last year's pool.This year's total, however, does not include the 220 applicants who applied to the University through QuestBridge, a separate application program for low-income students with which the University partnered for the first time this year.This article was updated at 11:45 a.m. on Dec. 4 to clarify that early applications peaked in fall 2005, not 2006 as originally stated. Those students entered the University in 2006.