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Penn applicants across the globe sat anxiously at their computers Friday, counting down the minutes to 3 p.m.

Early decision results were released online last week, with the “strongest and most diverse class in Penn’s history,” according to Dean of Admissions Eric Furda.

The admittance rate was 26 percent. This number is much lower than the 31-percent acceptance rate last year, Furda said. He explained that the Admissions Office saw an 18-percent increase in applications this year.

This rising trend was not unique to Penn. Columbia University saw an eight-percent increase in applications, Dartmouth College 12-percent and Bucknell, Northwestern and Vanderbilt universities all between 20- and 30-percent.

“Given the increase, we did not admit more students,” he said. “The class size will remain the same — we just have a greater level of selectivity.”

The University admitted fewer students this year — 1,195 students were granted acceptance, while 1,200 were accepted in 2009. The early admits will make up 49 percent of the targeted enrolled class.

The SAT average was 2164, a 3-point increase over last year’s early admits.

“Geographically and racially, the students really set the state for the rest of the class,” Furda said. “Every gain that takes place early establishes a foundation.”

He noted greater geographic diversity within the United States and internationally.

The number of applications from rural Pennsylvania and southeastern states, such as Georgia and Florida, increased due to extensive recruitment efforts in those areas, he said.

International students make up 10 percent of the accepted pool, and 40 percent of all admitted students identified themselves as American Indian, Asian, Latino or black.

In addition to recruitment efforts, Furda also attributes the added diversity to “Penn’s financial-aid message that is getting across.” He explained how Penn is “shattering assumptions” that Early Decision is only for wealthy applicants.

“Students realize, whether applying early or regular, that they’re not going to get a better deal than this anywhere else — even given Penn’s price tag,” Furda added.

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