Penn’s waitlist of 3,000 is one of the largest seen among peer institutions.

While Dean of Admissions of Eric Furda said the high number might make people step back and say “that’s too many,” only about 60 percent of those waitlisted will choose to remain on the list. This reduces the number to 1,800.

“The number is a function of the applicant pool and the class you ultimately want to enroll,” he said. He explained that while 1,800 may still seem large, two years ago Penn took 177 students off the waitlist. That’s 10 percent of the total number, a similar acceptance rate to the regular decision rate.

The University took approximately 100 students off the waitlist for the Penn class of 2013.

Furda said each school must decide what sort of waitlist policy best suits its institution.

“[Schools] should be somewhat proactive in finding what number is right and what number is comfortable,” he said.

The waitlist has not always remained the same over the years, Furda said. “The landscape changed a few years ago.”

When Harvard and Princeton Universities canceled their early decision programs, students began applying to even more colleges. This resulted in lower yield rates, forcing schools to expand their waitlists.

Furda also said waitlisting a student can send the message that “we think about students who have accomplished so much and we would still like to consider.”

As for who gets off of the waitlist, he said Penn Admissions does not rank the students who are placed on this list. Instead, they are re-evaluated, just like in the regular selection process.

IvySelect College Consulting founder Michael Goran said in his experience, “not many of my students who were waitlisted chose to pursue it,” explaining the large number of students initially put on these lists.

“They’re obviously disappointed, but if they are rejected they likewise tend to move on,” he said.

Goran recommends accepting an offer and staying on the waitlist if students really want that school. In some cases, however, this might not be the best option since some students “don’t want to be on the back list, [they] want to have their plans set.”

While a number like 3,000 may seem high, Goran said students already understand that the college process is competitive and must decide if they want to wait to hear back or solidify their plans based on their options.

Algonquin Regional High School senior Kurt Schultz is one of the students waitlisted for Penn’s class of 2014.

“I was at first disappointed, but not discouraged,” he said. Schultz feels he must now differentiate himself, calling the waitlist “almost like a second run” at admission.

“I need to stand out of 3,000 students as one of those 100,” he said.

Regardless of the number waitlisted, Schultz said he would have stayed on the list, since “Penn is my top choice.”

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