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Penn received 5 percent more early decision applications this year compared to last year, reaching an all-time high of 5,390 applicants.

This is the second year in a row that more than 5,000 applicants have applied early and the third year in a row that Penn received a record number of early applicants — in line with a national trend toward early admission programs.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda  said that the numbers might have increased because “college counselors know that we are going to fill 45 to 50 percent of incoming students in early decision.”

Penn accepted 54 percent of the Class of 2018 during last year’s early admissions cycle. The year before that, Penn accepted 49 percent of the incoming class through early decision.

Bev Taylor, a college admissions expert and founder of The Ivy Coach,  said there is a general trend of more students applying early. Parents and students — both within the U.S. and worldwide — are becoming more aware of the benefits of the early application option because newspaper articles and blogs emphasize the higher possibility of getting in, she said. Last year, Penn’s early decision acceptance rate was 25.2 percent, compared to 7.3 percent for regular decision.

“Another piece is that students who are applying early are typically very motivated high-achievers,” Taylor said. “They have [their application] all done by Nov. 1.”

Students who apply early decision must matriculate if they are accepted, which increases a university’s yield rate — an important statistic used in college rankings.

Dartmouth College, which released its early decision applicant numbers on Monday, received 1,856 early applications — a 10 percent increase over last year.  The rest of the Ivy League universities and other peer schools have not yet reported their applicant numbers.

The increase in the early decision applicant pool, Furda said, “is an important indication that Penn’s all-grant, no-loan financial aid program and our outreach is showing some result.”

Even though Penn’s early application deadline was not pushed back this year — like it was for each of the past three years — Furda indicated that the number of applicants was most likely not affected by the stable deadline.

On the other hand, Taylor thought the extended deadline increased the number of early applications.

“We have a huge number of 17-year-olds who are by nature procrastinators,” she said.

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