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Applications for admission to the University declined for the third year in a row this year, dropping eight percent, according to Dean of Admissions Willis Stetson. Stetson said that applications were down from 10,664 last year to 9800. Despite the drop, the University will keep the size of the Class of 1995 the same as past classes, Stetson said Friday. The admissions dean said the decrease mirrors an eight percent drop in the number of 18-year-olds. He said the change in applications is a demographic issue and not a reflection on the University. He added that expensive private schools, like the University, may be suffering the effects of a declining national economy. "It's too early to be certain, but it appears that the less expensive state schools are getting more applications," Stetson said, adding that an increase in early action activity across the nation may also have contributed to the drop. Associate Admissions Dean Christoph Guttentag agreed with Stetson Friday, saying the high price of an Ivy League education may chase some applicants off, but added that most can afford it with financial aid. "The perception among students and parents is that highly selective schools are too expensive," Guttentag said. "It's more a question of perception, than reality. Chances are they can afford it." According to both Guttentag and Stetson, accepting the same number of students from a smaller pool of applicants will not hurt the academic integrity of the incoming class. Guttentag said the type of people who applied in past years but not this year are usually those who would not have been accepted anyway. The result is a smaller pool with a higher concentration of qualified students. The University will admit approximately 2250 students of the 9800 to 10,000 applicants, a ratio which yields about a 40-percent acceptance rate, according to Regional Director of Admissions Eric Furda. Furda said even though the 40-percent figure may seem high compared with fellow Ivies, the number is distorted because the University has a larger student population than the other Ivies. Furda said the three schools outside of the College -- Wharton, Engineering and Nursing -- contribute to the higher acceptance rate. He said the College is just as selective as other Ivies. Stetson admitted that he has a difficult job ahead of him. "The significance of all this is that competition to enroll them will be tough because many other schools will be trying to enroll the same students," Stetson said. Stetson also said Friday that the nation's universities are witnessing a shift of potential students from the Northeast to the Southeast, West and Southwest. Stetson said he does not feel the University will lose these students to western schools like Stanford University or the University of California at Berkeley. "There's only a certain number they can accept," he added. Minority applications, like the entire pool, fell by 8 percent, but applications by black students went from 719 in 1990 to 575 in 1991, a 20-percent decrease. But Guttentag said this is not cause for alarm. "The quality of the pool of black students is better," Guttentag said. He said the recession, combined with the high cost of attending the University , have a larger impact on black students than any other group. Hispanic applications dropped from 498 in 1990 to 420 this year, while Asian applications fell slightly from 2510 to 2499 this year. Applications to the School of Arts and Sciences fell by eight percent. Wharton applications dropped by 11 percent. Engineering applications fell by just three percent. More applications were received by the Management and Technology program, a 37 percent increase, and the Nursing School received 29 percent more applications. "Overall, the class of 1995 is the strongest in Penn's history," alumnus Furda said. "The academic quality [of this year's class] has certainly not gone down."

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