2015 LGBT yield sees increase
Admissions outreach gave admitted students better sense of ‘Penn experience’
May 12, 2011, 7:49 pm · Updated May 12, 2011, 12:00 am·
Although the exact results have yet to be finalized, the number of students in the class of 2015 who self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender has increased slightly from last year.
The yield rate for the LGBT community appears to be nearly identical to what the overall rate for the incoming freshman class will be, regional director of admissions and LGBT liaison Jordan Pascucci wrote in an email.
The slight increase from last year may be due to Penn’s LGBT admissions outreach efforts, in which applicants who indicated an interest in the LGBT community were “flagged” and directly contacted by current Penn students via email, postcards and video messages.
Between 70 and 80 applications were flagged for the class of 2015, up from the 35 to 40 which were marked last year, LGBT Center director Bob Schoenberg said. About 50 percent of the students who were contacted during the admissions process this year have committed to attending Penn, he added.
Schoenberg said that students who didn’t accept offers from Penn mainly chose to attend peer institutions like Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford universities.
A school’s LGBT community “is only one of many things students consider when making their enrollment decisions, so among the students who identify as LGBT or [an] ally in their application, we see some choose other peer institutions for a variety of reasons,” Pascucci wrote.
However, the admissions outreach “seems to have helped tremendously in giving newly admitted students a better sense of what Penn has to offer and what their Penn experience might be like,” she added.
Despite what Schoenberg called the “huge success” of the outreach, Penn is one of only a few schools in the nation with such an extensive program, according to a May 1 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Some peer institutions, though, such as American University and Dartmouth College, have begun to take interest in following Penn’s model.
Outreach programs such as Penn’s serve to enrich the LGBT communities on campuses through providing a way for incoming freshman to get involved as soon as they enter their new school, said College junior Corinne Rich, the chairwoman of the Lambda Alliance — Penn’s umbrella organization for LGBT groups.
College junior and Lambda Alliance Vice Chair for Outreach Stefano Di Tommaso agreed, saying that had the outreach program existed during his application process, he “would’ve gotten involved in the LGBT community sooner.”
Despite the growing success of Penn’s program, Rich said that there are still improvements to be made. Campus tours “don’t advertise Penn as personal and customized,” and tend to leave out information about cultural hubs like the LGBT Center, she said.
Drawing attention to Penn’s LGBT community through the outreach program is a way to emphasize that “the accepted students belong at Penn,” Di Tommaso said.
However, Schoenberg was confident that the outreach program “will be even better in its third iteration.”