In this year’s undergraduate admissions cycle, Penn received 31,219 applications, just one more than last year’s total of 31,218.
This is the third straight year that Penn’s applicant pool has remained above 31,000, after a 39 percent increase from 2009 to 2011.
Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said that the figure is within the range of what he expected, and that any change in application numbers he would credit to Penn’s institution of a new required essay in the Penn Supplement portion of the Common Application.
Furda brought up the point that “if we put this essay question down,” it could change some students’ consideration of Penn in the application process. “But we’re willing to take that chance to really see… if we’re gaining some other insight into some candidates,” he said.
Though the Office of Admissions is still compiling the applicant data, Furda notes that an initial read into the pool indicates an increase in the quality of applicants.
Additionally, while about 10 percent of the data has not yet been analyzed, Furda says with relative certainty that certain factors such as average SAT scores and GPAs have increased.
Furda also said that there is broad diversity in this year’s applicant pool – geographically, racially and socioeconomically.
He credits this partially to the ongoing Penn-Knowledge is Power Program Partnership, a program in its first year that works to identify and recruit students from underserved areas. Already, eight students have been admitted post-early decision to Penn’s Class of 2017 through the KIPP partnership, which operates mostly in the Texas area.
Out of Penn’s peer institutions that have released this year’s application numbers so far, applicants to Columbia and Stanford Universities have gone up 5 to 6 percent, while Dartmouth has reported a 3 percent decrease.
“I’d say if you take a look at Penn’s applicant pool, we are right in the middle of where our peers are,” Furda said.