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Photo: Osama Ahmed

The University’s 2013 early decision applications reached a new high this year with 5,133 students applying to join the Class of 2018, a 6.6 percent increase from last year.

This also marks a 41 percent increase from 2008, when Penn received 3,631 early decision applications.

“It’s surprising to me!” Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said. “I am really proud of my staff, but this has been a collective Penn effort.”

Furda said that the efforts of campus maintenance staff, student leaders, alumni volunteers, parents and tour guides all deserve credit for the successful results.

There has been an increase in the academic quality and diversity of the newest applicant pool. “It has been a broad base increase, with numbers increasing across all schools and all geographic regions,” Furda said.

Steven Goodman, a Top Colleges educational consultant and 1989 graduate of the Graduate School of Education, believes that “the message about what Penn will offer a prospective student is crystal clear.”

Goodman, who attended Dean Furda’s homecoming speech on campus last weekend, said “I heard Eric’s alumni talk, and I think a lot of [the success] has to be contributed to his strategies and energy.”

This year’s early admissions cycle was complicated by glitches with the Common Application’s new CA4 platform. On Oct. 30, the Office of Admissions announced that it would extend the early decision deadline to Nov. 11, despite the fact that the office had originally decided to maintain its original Nov. 1 deadline. Other schools, such as Yale, Columbia and Cornell universities and Dartmouth College also decided to extend their application deadlines in response to issues with the Common Application.

The 10-day extension marked the University’s third consecutive year of extending the deadline. The deadline was extended five days in 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy and three days in 2011 due to a severe Northeast snowstorm.

“I think it was the right thing to do given the information that we had at the time,” Furda said, “However, I don’t think that more students decided to apply [because of the extension].”

Michele Hernandez, president of Hernandez College Consulting, explained that there has been an upward trend in the number of applications over time, so Penn’s numbers are not “a huge surprise.”

“It’s a combination of more and more sophisticated enrollment management techniques used by Penn and other major universities,” Michael Goran, director and lead educational consultant at IvySelect, a college consulting company, said. “Growth in technology and information being available to students, often through social media, has contributed to this.”

Goran also attributes Penn’s success to a “greater international awareness of Penn,” as well as a trend for students to apply through early admissions programs in order to increase their chances of admission.

Furda said that “commitment goes both ways” and that the Office of Admissions will accept as many students as they can through early decision in line with the University’s enrollment goals.

The decisions for this year’s Early Decision applicants will be released online at 5 p.m. on Dec. 16. The date for accepted students to reply to Penn is Jan. 6.

While most of the Ivy League schools have yet to release their early admissions numbers, Dartmouth reported that it received 1,678 applications their early decision program, which is a 6.7 percent increase from last year.

Another notable increase came from Northwestern University, which reported a large increase in applications of approximately 14 percent from last year’s number, receiving 2,794 applications.

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