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Credit: Julia Schorr

Penn's early decision applicant pool for the Class of 2023 recently plateaued after several years of steady growth. Dean of Admissions Eric Furda, however, said these numbers make sense, and he would not be surprised if the early decision applicant pool remains steady in the coming years.

This fall, 6,746 prospective students applied to be considered for early admission, which is a 0.22 percent increase from the 6,731 students who applied ED last year. Including QuestBridge applicants, Furda said 7,112 students applied early decision compared to last year's 7,073. This year's plateau comes after a record-breaking 15 percent increase in early decision applicants in 2017.

Furda compared Penn’s previous growth in early decision applicants to the stock market, emphasizing that perpetual growth is not expected.

"One year doesn't make a plateau,” Furda said. “But I wouldn't be surprised if over the next few years we're seeing ourselves floating in a range of 6,000-something [applicants] to maybe just over 7,000, unless, again, something different gets introduced in, that would either inflate our numbers or, something that happens in the economy where families are saying, we can't commit to a place early decision."

Across the Ivy League, other universities have also recently experienced similar growth patterns in early admission applicants.

Other Ivy League schools, including Harvard University, Yale University, Cornell University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and Brown University, also had a record-breaking number of early applicants last year.

Columbia University, though, experienced a plateau in early decision applicants last year. But in 2016, it saw its highest number of applicants ever.

After early decision results were released last year, Harvard Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons told the Harvard Crimson that early admission is “the new normal."

Furda said last year's significant increase in applicants was partly because of changes in standardized testing. The redesigned SAT test was accepted for the first time in 2017 in lieu of the old version of the standardized test. 

“I think last year's increase really was because students saw themselves in a different light once they received their SAT scores, because the scores went up, then the revised SAT scores went up along certain areas of the distribution,” he said. 

Furda added that Penn cannot physically accept more early decision students than it currently does. Last year, Penn accepted 18.5 percent of total applicants, a record-breaking low.

Early decision results for the Class of 2023 will be released on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. Eastern time.