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Penn accepted 997 students out of 2,750 early applications. The 38.8% admit rate was lower than last year's. The University sent out 997 early decision acceptance letters last month, putting the acceptance rate at 38.8 percent, about three percent lower than last year's early decision rate. The admitted students came from a record-high applicant pool of 2,570, up 18.7 percent from 2,165 last year. Another 576 applicants were deferred, and 965 were denied admission. According to Dean of Admissions Lee Stetson, 12 to 15 percent of deferred students will be admitted with the regular decision group in early April. The accepted students -- 459 of whom are female -- signed a contract promising to matriculate at Penn in exchange for receiving a response 3 1/2 months early. They will comprise about 42 percent of the class of 2004. "There is a continued increasing interest in early programs, and we're benefiting from that," Stetson said. Early decision applications were up across all four undergraduate schools. Applicants to the College of Arts and Sciences rose 20.7 percent; the Engineering School went up 33.3 percent; the Wharton School rose 6.9 percent; and the Nursing School increased 42.4 percent. Stetson said the increase in the number of early decision applicants stems from the University's continually improving reputation as an institution with a wide range of academic programs, vivacious campus life and new facilities and residential programs. He also attributes the rise to a significant emphasis on recruitment, particularly in the form of joint programs -- where Penn and other top institutions like Duke, Georgetown and Harvard travel together to promote their schools to high school students. "Candidates and parents find [the joint programs] helpful, and guidance counselors would rather meet with four admissions officers than one," Admissions Officer Bruce Chamberlin said. "It's a better use of their time." Stetson added that the University's seventh-place national ranking by U.S. News and World Report has helped to broaden Penn's visibility. Stetson said early decision is becoming more and more popular because "there is a feeling on the part of the applicants that they are given a measure of preference" if they apply early. "It's a healthy trend, and it's continuing," Stetson said. Stetson added that the University will be very cautious, however, in its selection this spring for the class of 2004 in order not to overfill the class. Last year the yield rate jumped four to five percent over the previous year, resulting in a housing shortage. "It's a challenge of the riches," Stetson said. "It's a good story, but we have to be conservative for our estimates? and we're moving into a very selective regular decision period." Stetson said he expects a larger waiting list and a smaller admit rate than last year. "We can't afford another year like last year," he added. The accepted students' average SAT score is 1396, a nine-point increase from last year. The average SAT II score is 698, a four-point increase. Most admitted students graduated in the top five percent of their high school classes. A record-high increase in minority applicants accompanied the overall increase in early decision applicants. The number rose from 771 last year to 880, of whom 26.4 percent were accepted. "It is very encouraging that more minority students are making Penn their first choice," said Rodney Morrison, director of minority recruitment. Both Morrison and Stetson attribute the rise in minority applicants to Penn's presence at college fairs in minority communities and to academic programs for minority students held at the University prior to the application period in the fall. Stetson said he expects both early decision and regular decision applications in general to be on the rise for the next several years, as the "echo boom" generation -- the children of the baby boomers -- is now entering college. Regular decision applications were due January 1, and decisions will be mailed April 1.

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