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The Class of 2025 at the Convocation on Aug. 30, 2021. Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Students in the Class of 2025 who attended high school with many other Penn first years said the familiarity eased the transition to the University, while those from less-represented high schools reported apprehension.

During the 2020-2021 application cycle, Penn admissions received an all-time high of 56,000 applications. Despite the 34% increase in applications from the previous year, many admitted students came from a similar list of high schools. The Class of 2025 included students from 95 countries and all 50 states — but many students said that they attended the same select high schools, many within the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. 

Despite this trend of students from the same high schools consistently being admitted, the Admissions Office maintained that there is no formula to get accepted to Penn. Associate Director of Admissions Sara Cohen wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that the office uses a student's high school profile and letters of recommendation to evaluate the individual applicant’s accomplishments in the context of their school.

“We have no set distributions or caps on the number of students who are admitted from any particular school,” Cohen wrote.

Students who graduated from these schools, which have a long-standing history of sending many graduates to Penn each year, said many of their classmates are also currently students at Penn.

Wharton first year Justin Silver said that the Riverdale Country School in New York has 13 students in Penn's Class of 2025. College first year Emily Marks said the Horace Mann School sent 12, College first year Evie Eisenstein said William Penn Charter School sent nine, and College first year John Kulak said the Brunswick School sent eight. Scarsdale Senior High School and Greenwich High School both sent seven students to Penn.

Students from these high schools said that arriving at school with their former classmates helped ease the transition to college life.

“The transition was definitely made a little bit easier socially knowing so many people,” Marks said. “I think I came into Penn a little more comfortable knowing that I had people to go to and to have meals with the first couple days,” Marks said. 

College first year Emily Albert attended Dwight-Englewood School, a college-preparatory high school in New Jersey, and seven of her high school classmates are also members of the Class of 2025. 

“It was definitely helpful knowing people beforehand, and seeing people from home is always nice,” Albert said.

Some students without these connections, however, said they were apprehensive about forming connections with those who had them.

Wharton first year Max Matolcsy from Plum Senior High School in Pittsburgh is one of the only students in his high school’s history to attend Penn — or any Ivy League school. 

“It was definitely tough coming to Penn, especially when compared to some of my high school friends who went to college in the Pittsburgh area, who knew 10 to 20 people that were going to the same school,” he said. “After the first month of the semester, I do think that initial disadvantage went away after meeting other students on the football team and on my dorm floor.”

College first year Ally Kalishman is the only student from her high school, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, in Penn’s Class of 2025. 

“I was nervous about whether students who had several people from their high school would be open to having friends from different places or different schools,” Kalishman said, adding that while she worried about this before arriving at Penn, it has been better than she thought it would be.

Similarly, College first year Allison Santa-Cruz attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Ridgeland, Mississippi, which sent only one first year to Penn this year. Santa-Cruz, who is an opinion columnist for the DP, said that beyond being one of only a few students from Mississippi, she hasn't encountered many from her area. 

“It is natural to be drawn to what’s more comfortable, so when I did not have many people from my area at Penn, I realized I did not have as much common ground as other people,” Santa-Cruz said. 

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