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Eric Furda and others in the Admissions office seal acceptance letters to be mailed to students in the class of 2015 Credit: Alexandra Fleischman

Next Tuesday, thousands of hopeful applicants will learn whether or not they have been accepted to Penn.

This year, Penn received a total of 37,264 applications during the early decision and regular decision rounds — a 3.8 percent increase from last year and a 38.3 percent increase from five years ago. The spike in applications will likely lead to the lowest overall acceptance rate in Penn’s history.

The regular decision acceptance rate will be affected by the large percentage of the class of 2019 that has already been filled with early decision applicants. 54.4 percent of the class has already been determined — the highest percentage in the University's history.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said that this increase reflects an ideal class that the Office of Admissions has in mind. “If early decision could look like what we want the class to look like in regular decision, I’ll admit the whole class early decision,” he said in a February interview.

The record-high early decision rate is not the only factor setting this year's admissions cycle apart.

Penn’s decision to extend its Jan. 1 deadline to Jan. 5 for students who had listed Penn on their Common Application could also have contributed to the increase in applications and potentially lower acceptance rate this year. Previously, the deadline had only been extended due to extenuating circumstances such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and widespread Common Application glitches last year.

This year, the deadline was extended in order to “give students an opportunity to use more time over their school holiday,” Furda said.

Dartmouth College, Vanderbilt University and the University of Chicago also extended their regular decision deadlines this year. Furda said the later deadline may continue in future years.

“I am examining what date makes the most sense for the regular decision deadline as I want to move away from a date when high schools and the University are closed,” Furda said.

Less than a week away from regular decision release, Furda is optimistic about next year’s class.

“Things are looking great,” he said. “We feel really good about where we are right now.”

Regular decision results will be available online for applicants next Tuesday, March 31, at 5 p.m. EST.

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