After spending last summer at a program on Penn’s campus, Lauren Shapiro decided to apply early decision.
Shapiro, a senior at Doris and Alex Weber Jewish Community High School in Atlanta, Ga., was drawn to Penn because of the “great departments” in her two subjects of interest – English and architecture.
But there is another factor pulling Shapiro toward Penn.
“It’s absolutely necessary that [the college I attend] has some Jewish population,” said Shapiro, who has attended Jewish day schools since kindergarten, except for one year of high school.
Although Shapiro is “not religious at all,” she said that, “every single school I’m applying to has a Hillel.”
“Weber has a strong history with Penn,” she added, saying her high school typically sends four or five students to Penn, out of a class of around 60.
Shapiro is not alone. Many Jewish applicants are “absolutely attracted because of the vibrancy of the Jewish community here,” Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said. Out of the 10,000 undergraduates at Penn, around 25 percent are Jewish, according to the Penn Hillel website.
Shapiro said many students in the South head north for college, but at Weber, a particularly large amount of students go to the North because “Jewish populations are much larger at northern schools.”
Admissions officers are also “doing well at recruiting” in the South, she said, explaining that she has heard her regional admissions officer speak twice at her high school.
In fact, the Admissions Office has been strategically targeting the Southeast over the past few years because “we continue to see growth in the population of college-bound students” there, Furda said.
While states such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have “flat and possibly declining” populations of college-bound students, the populations in states like North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Florida are rising, he added.
Students coming from all areas of the country want to “feel that they will find a kinship and community” at Penn, Furda said.
Shapiro agreed that, although she is a “big proponent of diversity,” she feels comfortable in a Jewish setting.
Quoting President Amy Gutmann, Furda added, “Students don’t only want to know if they’ll get in. They want to know if they’ll fit in.”
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