In light of a series of natural disasters, Penn extended its Early Decision application deadline from Nov. 1 to Nov. 10 for students in affected regions, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda wrote in an email.
In addition to accepting late applications, Penn Admissions announced on its website that they would waive application fees for students who have been financially impacted by these disasters. They also plan to be flexible with the timeframe for receiving materials such as transcripts and letters of recommendation, according to the website.
Helen Rosenbrien, a Pennsylvania-native who applied to Penn ED, said she first heard of the extension when looking at the Penn Admissions homepage in early October. She added that not many of her peers seemed to be aware of this extension.
College junior Cristina Arruza said the news that Penn would be flexible in accepting letters of recommendation came as a great relief to her sister Patricia, who applied ED to Penn and lives in Puerto Rico.
Cristina said she was lucky that her family owned a power generator, but many of her sister's peers were stuck without any power and internet access in their homes. Patricia's high school still does not have internet.
"I think it was really important [to extend the deadline]," Cristina said. "I know some of her friends still hadn't done the essay, so they had that extra week and a half to do them … Those extra days really help."
Although Patricia already had her application essays drafted before Hurricane Maria struck, her school was unable to send Patricia's transcripts and letters of recommendation by the Nov. 1 deadline. All materials had to be sent by mail.
Some Ivy League institutions have offered similar extensions.
Similar to Penn, Yale University and Cornell University extended early admissions deadlines for affected students to Nov. 10. Columbia University and Dartmouth College extended their deadlines to Nov. 15.
Harvard University and Princeton University have not officially extended early deadlines, but did invite affected students to personally contact the admissions offices to request extensions. Brown University's website did not indicate that its deadline has been extended.
In 2012, Penn also extended the deadline for all ED applicants to Nov. 6, following Hurricane Sandy, and contacted all students via email.
1986 Wharton graduate Laurie Kopp Weingarten, the director and co-founder of One Stop College Counseling, praised Penn's decision to extend the deadline and said this type of action is not unprecedented. She noted that in the past, Penn has offered deadline extensions to applicants on a case-by-case basis.
"There’ve been cases of not even natural disasters like this, but somebody was about to apply and there was a death in the family," Weingarten said. "Penn has always been great about making those individual extensions."
Brian Taylor, the managing director of college counseling service the Ivy Coach, said the deadline extensions does not provide students with an unfair advantage.
"They’ve had several months to put together their applications," Taylor said. "Does it help the procrastinator who waited until Oct. 31 to start working on their early application? Sure, but that person’s not going to put together a great application anyway."
On Oct. 30, the Common Application website was down for several hours, but Furda wrote in an email that the deadline was not extended at that point, "since The Common Application outage was limited in time prior to the deadline," he wrote.
Furda said that the number of applications that Penn received in the Early Decision round will not be released until after Nov. 10.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.