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2012 Master of Environmental Studies Chennery Fife (left), an admissions officer, leads a campus tour for prospective students.

Photo: Jing Ran / The Daily Pennsylvanian

For admitted students, Penn Preview Days is often their first look at Penn, and their experience that day can make a big difference in their ultimate decision.

This year’s crop of admitted students can expect some changes to the days, including a new activities fair and a separate day for early decision admits.

The new early decision Preview Day will offer programs specifically tailored for these students and their families.

“[Early decision admits] tend to be the kind of the group that come to Penn Preview Days because they’re excited about the place,” Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said of the decision to offer the separate Preview Day. “They haven’t had the contact since December, and they want to get back into it.”

“Students who are on the fence about whether they’re attending or not — who just found out on March 28 and are now attending [a Preview Day] on the second day of April — are in a very different place than students who from Dec. 12 have known they’ve been [admitted],” Furda said.

La Salle College High School senior Robert Gormisky, who was admitted to Penn’s Class of 2017 early decision, doesn’t see the benefit in having a separate day for early decision admits.

“I would still have the same experience on Preview Days no matter what other [prospective students] were thinking,” Gormisky said. “I see how they could gear it more towards exposing us to Penn rather than convincing us to go to Penn, but I think those two goals are pretty much coincidental.”

In addition to the separate early decision Preview Day, all Preview Days will include an additional activities fair, in which prospective students can interact with current students and learn about the many clubs on campus they can take part in.

The activities fair idea was spearheaded by the Penn Preview Days Committee, a nine-person student group founded last spring by Wharton sophomore Christian Cortes.

The committee met for the first time this semester and collaborated with On-Campus Programs, the Undergraduate Assembly and the Office of Admissions to brainstorm Preview Days changes.

Cortes said the committee is currently in the process of recruiting different student organizations to participate in the fair. Unlike the traditional student activities fairs held at the beginning of each semester, not every student organization will be involved in every Preview Day.

“That’s physically impossible and logistically a nightmare,” Cortes said.

Instead, the committee is hoping to get one club represented from each “community” during each of the Preview Days, so that interested prospective students can still get a feel for the things they’re curious about.

“For example, within the LGBT community, one day we can have Queer Student Alliance, but another day we’ll have Queer People of Color,” Cortes explained.

Cortes was inspired to start this initiative after his experience participating in and volunteering for Preview Days. “I got a feel of the campus, but I didn’t get a feel of what it means to be in a student organization or what it means to be in a community,” he said.

“The point is … we want to increase and enhance the Penn pride that we have here. I think that’s something that’s been missing in Penn Preview Days,” Cortes added.

Gormisky, for one, is excited by the prospect of a club fair. “I looked up all the academic opportunities at Penn, but I didn’t really look so much at the social aspect of actually living on campus and joining clubs. So that’s something I’d want to find out on Preview Day,” he said.

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