On Monday, admissions officers will return to Penn after visiting different corners of the globe to prepare to read early decision applications, due Nov. 1.
“Everyone has been traveling since Labor Day,” Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said.
The officers have been visiting high schools, but “they are coming off the road now,” he said.
This year, Harvard and Princeton universities will reinstate their early action programs after they were eliminated in 2007.
Furda does not believe Penn will see a significant drop in early decision applicants because of this change “since the decision is binding.”
However, he does believe Penn will receive fewer applications for regular decision and will have a higher yield rate this year because of early action at Harvard and Princeton.
In 2007, Harvard and Princeton eliminated their early action programs “due to concerns that it posed a disadvantage to low-income applicants,” according to The Harvard Crimson.
“The idea of taking away early admission policy is one that many people in our association supported,” Director of Public Policy and Research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling David Hawkins said.
However, Hawkins did not expect it to trigger a mass exodus of schools away from early action and early decision.
“These early policies serve some function,” he said. “They are helpful in giving institutions a good preliminary indicator of who they’re going to enroll in the fall.”
Indeed, Harvard and Princeton decided to reinstate their early programs last February because they “saw that many highly talented students, including some of the best-prepared low-income and underrepresented minority students, were choosing programs with an early-action option” at other schools, according to a statement by Harvard Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael Smith.
Although Penn values its early decision program, Furda admits that there is some “divide” in how applicants from different socio-economic backgrounds think about applying early.
High-school senior Jason Jakoby from Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, N.Y., said everyone in his graduating class applies early to college.
“People don’t want to miss out on the opportunity,” Jakoby said, adding that Penn is one of the most popular schools to which students from his high school apply.
However, at Newfield High School in Long Island, N.Y., “people don’t really apply early,” Engineering sophomore Kristin Marra said.
“The guidance counselors don’t push it much, and no one was financially stable enough to know they could afford the school,” Marra said.
She added, “People don’t really know about Penn from my high school.”
Many students around the country are in similar positions.
“Students in need of financial aid may be discouraged from applying early” since they will be bound to that institution, Hawkins said.
However, Penn has a “no-loan financial aid policy” that makes Penn affordable to all students, even early admits, Furda said.
Despite financial guarantees that may be offered, the NACAC “has many concerns with early decision,” Hawkins said.
“Ideally, an institution should be applying the same standard in both [early and regular] cycles,” he said, explaining that there “tends to be a bit of a lower bar” for early decision candidates, especially for legacy students who have parents or siblings that attended Penn.
In fact, at Penn, “we’re going to maximize legacies in early decision,” Furda said.
In previous years, Penn’s early decision admits have had a lower average test score than their regular decision counterparts.
However, regular decision students who decide to enroll at the University have a lower average test score than students who attend Penn through early decision, Furda said.
As a result, he believes “anyone who thinks that less qualified people get into Penn early decision is not right.”
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