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For some, attending Penn is like a dream come true.

After a three-year absence from the list, the University placed eighth on The Princeton Review’s 2011 ranking of the nation’s “Top 10 Dream Colleges,” released in late March.

The ranking — part of The Princeton Review’s annual “College Hopes and Worries” survey — included write-in responses from 8,219 college applicants and 3,966 parents of applicants. Though Penn was ranked in the top 10 by student respondents, it did not make the cut among parents.

Stanford and Harvard universities were ranked first and second by students, respectively.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said he was pleased with the University’s placement.

“From an Admissions Office standpoint, you always hope that your school will be in the conversation [among prospective applicants],” he said. “In that sense, I think the rankings can be very important.”

Furda said he was not sure what specifically might have caused Penn to re-emerge in the top 10 this year.

However, David Soto, director of editorial content at The Princeton Review, speculated that the University’s ranking could be due in part “to the fact that students today highly value the quality in education that Penn offers.”

This year, Penn received 31,659 applications to the Class of 2015 — an 18-percent increase over last year’s total and a record high for the University. Soto said these numbers reflect “an all-around high interest in Penn.”

For Furda, a survey like this can play a “critical role” for students who don’t already have much information about an institution. In particular, he said that rankings generally matter more for international applicants who are unable to visit campus.

Some, though, believe students should not consider college rankings in the admissions process.

Maria Morales-Kent, director of college counseling at The Thacher School in Ojai, Calif., said it is important for students to “learn more about a school than what’s contained on a list.”

“So much of what these lists depend on is easy cultural knowledge or quick identification … so we tend to see the same set of schools mentioned over and over again,” said Morales-Kent, who worked as an admissions officer at Penn in the 1980s.

On the whole, Morales-Kent said Penn’s application volume will remain high regardless of whether the University is named a dream college or not.

For newly admitted students, college rankings took on various levels of importance in the admissions process.

“I don’t think something like a list of dream schools is useful because it’s outside the realm of academics,” said Jon Ma, a senior at Arcadia High School in Arcadia, Calif., who was admitted regular decision to Penn.

However, Dayo Osuntokun — a senior at Abington Heights High School in Clarks Summit, Pa. — said rankings played a “big role” before she was admitted to Penn last week.

“Rankings are extremely useful because they motivate universities to do better year to year,” she said. “A dream school to me is somewhere I can go, excel and be happy, and Penn definitely fits that description.”

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