This year, Penn received more LGBT-flagged regular decision applications compared to last year’s round of admissions.
Though Dean of Admissions Eric Furda declined to provide the specific number of LGBT-flagged applications among the Class of 2016, he said there has been a consistent upward trend in the past few years.
“LGBT students and allies realize that this is a community,” he said, citing factors such as Penn’s LGBT-friendly reputation and the increased LGBT awareness among its admissions officers. Furda added that, Penn “is a place that students should consider for a whole range of reasons, but certainly because of the strength of our support and celebration of the LGBT community.”
Although the Common Application does not include a check box for applicants to indicate their sexual orientation, Penn keeps track of the number of LGBT students who self-identify through their essays or other written material.
Since 2010, the Office of Admissions has provided contact information for prospective LGBT students to the Lambda Alliance, Penn’s umbrella organization for LGBT student groups.
News of the increase in flagged applications this admissions cycle was well-received by members of Lambda.
“It’s really showing that our efforts to make Penn a high-profile LGBT-friendly school are definitely being successful,” College sophomore and Lambda Chair Hugh Hamilton said. “Applicants are really hearing the message that Penn is a place where they will really be valued.”
LGBT Center Director Bob Schoenberg has also been pleased “with the work that has yielded such a large number of self-identified applicants and a high number of LGBT and allied matriculants.”
Along with global changes in attitudes toward LGBT issues, Schoenberg also believes that Penn’s reputation may have played a role in the increased number of flagged regular decision applicants.
“I speculate that it has to do with the fact that Penn’s reputation as an LGBT-frendly place has continued to grow, and word will have continued to spread that Penn cares about having greater diversity including a more significant number of people who self-identify either as LGBT or as strong allies,” he said.
In addition to these factors, Vice Chair of Outreach for Lambda and College freshman Dawn Androphy believes that the increase in flagged regular decision applicants goes hand-in-hand with a national increase in LGBT awareness.
“It’s a combination of two things,” she said. “One, you have more kids becoming involved in LGBT and allied issues in high school. Two, there’s increased awareness for those students that Penn is a friendly institution.”
For Androphy, Penn’s reputation is ranked as high as it is because of the variety of resources it has to offer, such as a stand-alone building for the LGBT Center manned by three full-time employees.
“It’s very important that when minority students apply to school, they have specific outreach because they’re not just looking at academics,” she said. “They also have other specific needs that must be addressed and they need to know that Penn will meet those needs better than others.”
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