Few hopefuls taken off waitlist

· June 17, 2010, 1:50 am   ·  Updated June 17, 2010, 12:00 am

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While the admissions process for most students ends in April when they commit to matriculating at a particular college, a handful continue waiting through May and the summer to finalize their college plans.

Of the 3,000 students who were waitlisted at Penn this year, 1,800 chose to stay on the waitlist. As of June 14, only 40 have been admitted, according to Dean of Admissions Eric Furda.

This number is markedly lower than the 100 admitted for the class of 2013 and the all-time high of 180 admitted for the class of 2012. In total, Penn has accepted 3,870 students for the incoming class.

In a year when yields did not change dramatically but waitlists expanded, peer institutions saw the same waitlist pattern as Penn.

Harvard University only expects to admit 65 to 75 students from the waitlist, while Dartmouth College may not accept any additional students due to an increased yield, according to the New York Times. Penn’s 63 percent yield rate, or percentage of students choosing to attend, has not changed from last year’s.

Craig Allen, the director of college advising at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., said there was not “a great deal of waitlist activity” with his senior class this year. He explained that schools may still act cautiously because of the economic downturn, and Penn is susceptible to the trickle-down effect from waitlists at places like Harvard, which leads to reshuffling even throughout the summer.

In general, “I just didn’t see a lot of interest in the waitlist this year. I saw a lot of kids blow off the waitlist, because they knew it was a shot but they didn’t think it was a good shot,” Allen said. He attributed this to the drawn-out college process taking more of a psychological toll on students than it did when admissions were less competitive, even a decade ago.

Furda said the 3,000-person waitlist is not a fixed number for Penn — the size of the list is re-evaluated every year. Last year, 3,500 students were placed on the waitlist.

“We want to be judicious and prudent,” Furda said, “but also give the sense to the students and the schools that were it not for the limited space, you would be admitted.”

Tom Walsh, director of college guidance at the Roxbury Latin School in Roxbury, Mass., wrote in an e-mail that “a couple of places surprised me by not needing to go to their [waitlist] this year — indicating remarkable enrollment and/or stupendous luck ... or some combination of both.”

Both Walsh and Steve Singer, director of college counseling at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, N.Y., reported that a similar number of students from their respective schools were waitlisted and then accepted off the waitlist as last year.

Several waitlisted students, who asked to remain anonymous because their admissions decisions are still up in the air, said they are growing more anxious because waitlist activity tends to wind down by June. One student described being “excited about” and “invested in” the college he has already committed to and said that in early May he was more hopeful about being accepted to Penn than he is now.

The students who are accepted off the waitlist at this point, Singer noted, “are probably the ones who pay full tuition” because “given a tough economy, more colleges have to think that way.”

As in previous years, between 50 and 60 students chose to defer admission to Penn, and the yield rate for the 195 admitted transfer students is “right on target,” according to Furda. He expects to “monitor through the final days of June and then close the book on 2014.”

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