Today, thousands of high school seniors from all over the world submitted their early decision applications to Penn. Many of them will be among the top of their class, have participated and succeeded in a wide array of extracurricular activities and aced a variety of standardized exams. Alas, if the Class of 2020 statistics are any telling of the future, 77 percent of these applicants will be thoroughly disappointed on decision day and over 90 percent of all applicants (including regular decision pool applicants) will be rejected by Penn.
The same can be said for almost all of the other top U.S. universities. These numbers stand behind the reason that Ben Orlin, a former alumni interviewer for Yale, no longer wants to interview applicants for the Ivy. Orlin has voiced his discontent of the college application system in an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times. In the piece, he says the college application process resembles “a lengthy romantic courtship.” With an exhausting process involving test scores, grades, essays, recommendations and interviews, “rejection feels less like striking out on a first date than getting left at the altar.” Many high school seniors, Orlin says, feel luck is a main determinant in deciding who gets accepted and who doesn’t.
In the editorial, Orlin continues to say that the college application system is “unpredictable, opaque and … disappointing.” Universities do not necessarily aim to choose the “best” applicants from the applicant pool. Rather, they may be seeking to put together a balanced class where consistency and fairness is not as important.
Regardless, the number of students applying to Penn continues to increase year after year. In the 2015-2016 application cycle, more than 36,000 students applied to Penn.