Penn sees slight drop in early decision applications


The drop may be due to the reinstatement of early-action programs at Harvard and Princeton universities




Penn received 4,510 early decision applications this fall, a 1.3-percent decrease from last year’s total of 4,571 applications.

This marks the first year since 2006 that Princeton and Harvard universities accepted applications in the early round.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said there might be a “small causality” between Penn’s slight decline in applications and the reinstatement of Princeton and Harvard’s early action programs — both of which are non-binding.

While Harvard is still finalizing its numbers, Princeton has announced that it received 3,547 applications.

INTERACTIVE: Early decision applications to Penn over the years

Penn saw a “modest decrease” in applications from the Northeast and California. There was also a slight increase in applications from the Southeast and from international students, Furda said.

Overall, the “initial view is that the quality of applications is up,” Furda added, explaining that only 85 percent of applicants’ SAT scores have been entered into their system.

The level of diversity among the applicants has appeared to remain “relatively flat,” he said.

Although IvySelect College Consulting Director Michael Goran does not believe that the 61-student decrease in applications to Penn is significant, he said that his “strong sense is that Princeton and Harvard had an effect” on the number of early decision applicants.

Several of Penn’s peer institutions saw slight increases in application numbers. Dartmouth College received 1,800 early decision applications, a 3-percent increase from last year.

2,716 students applied early decision to Duke University, marking a 23-percent increase, while approximately 2,900 students applied early decision to Brown, which was a 4-percent increase from last year.

Harvard, Cornell, Columbia and Yale universities have not yet published their early decision numbers.

Because of the new early action programs, “there were definitely more conflicted feelings about where to apply early” this year, Goran said.

At Penn, this year’s decline in early decision applications follows a 26-percent growth in early applications between 2009 and 2011.

“We’re pushing up against an upper limit here,” Furda said, referencing the fact that Penn received more than 4,500 applications, which is more than most of its competitors.

“Not only are we at the higher end, but I do think that we’re somewhere near the natural top” of universities with the highest early decision applicants, Furda said.

However, Furda believes “Penn should be the first choice of even more people,” citing lack of knowledge about the institution and the perception of the cost as reasons students may not have applied early.

When it comes to application numbers, “I am never complacent,” Furda said.

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