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Penn's application pool for 2021 jumped 34% from last year. Credit: Max Mester

Penn accepted 5.68% of applicants to the Class of 2025, a record low and a significant decrease from last year's 8.07%.

This year marked Penn's largest application pool in history, with 56,333 — a 34% increase from last year. Penn offered admission to 3,202 of these applicants. In December, Penn accepted 1,194 students under the Early Decision Program from a pool of 7,962 applicants — resulting in a record-low 15% ED acceptance rate.

Admissions data for the Class of 2025 returns to a trend of steadily declining acceptance rates. Last year's acceptance rate saw a rare uptick, wherein 8.07% of applicants were admitted to the Class of 2024, up slightly from the 7.44% of applicants admitted to the Class of 2023. Penn accepted 8.39% of applicants to the Class of 2022, and 9.15% for the Class of 2021.

Fifteen percent of the Class of 2025 identifies as a first-generation college student. At least 18% of the accepted class is estimated to qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, which provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students, slightly lower than 20% last year.

For the Class of 2025, 56% of admitted students are United States citizens or permanent residents who self-identify as a person of color, up from last year's 53%. Fifty-four percent of the newly admitted class are women, up from last year's 53%.

Admitted members of the Class of 2025 hail from all 50 states, as well as D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The states with the most admitted students include Pennsylvania, California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas. 155 students are from the city of Philadelphia.

Hailing from 95 countries, 11% of the admitted Class of 2025 members are international students, down from last year's 14%.

Credit: Ava Cruz

Like last year, 13% of students accepted to the Class of 2025 were legacy students.

Admissions officials attributed the significant increase in applications received this year to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated policy changes, like Penn's test-optional policy. Penn did not require Class of 2025 applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores with their applications, a move that will also apply to the Class of 2026

"One of the main stories of this past year has been the transition to test-optional," Interim Dean of Admissions John McLaughlin said. "We were able to make a fairly seamless transition into reviewing applications, in some cases, without the benefit of that testing information. We focused on all of the information that was readily available in the file, and we feel confident about the decisions we made. In a year where there was a lot of change, that was a significant one that our office was able to cope with."

Associate Director of Admissions Sara Cohen previously told The Daily Pennsylvanian that students likely applied to more colleges than usual this year because narrowing down top schools may have been more difficult as the pandemic made college visits impossible.

McLaughlin also noted that this year's applicants stressed the implications of the current social and political climate through their personal statements and essays. 

"We are all operating within the context of the current moment. Within the context of the pandemic, a contentious election and aftermath, and the ongoing struggle towards racial justice. We see our prospective students operating within each of these spaces as well," McLaughlin said.

Though the Class of 2025 may not have had a traditional high school experience, admissions officers praised students for continuing to engage in extracurricular activities under the constraints of the pandemic. 

"The way in which students are able to make an impact and find ways to get involved, give back, grow, and learn in the current moment may have looked a little different than what we've seen prior to the pandemic," McLaughlin said. "But the fact that these amazing young people were still able to do that is consistent with what we've seen in previous years."

Penn released admissions decisions for the Class of 2025 on April 6 at 7 p.m. several days later than usual. The Ivy League, which saw a collective spike in applications, postponed its notification date to allow for more time to review applications. Admitted students will have until May 3 to declare their enrollment, a two-day extension from the traditional May 1 deadline.

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