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College Hall on April 11, 2020. Credit: Son Nguyen

Penn announced regular decision admission results for the Class of 2026, but declined for the first time in recent memory to share its acceptance rate.

This year's regular decision admissions cycle marks a shift from past years, given that the University is not publicly highlighting its acceptance rate for its incoming class. Two of the University's peer institutions — Princeton University and Cornell University — shared in Penn's decision to withhold detailed admissions figures after regular decision applicants were notified Thursday evening. 

"We’re focusing not on how hard we are to get into, but on who these young people are that we chose," Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions Whitney Soule told The Wall Street Journal

Roughly 55,000 students applied to Penn across both early and regular decision — a decrease from last year’s 56,333, which marked the largest application pool in history. The first-year class is expected to number approximately 2,400 students. Penn accepted 15.63% of applicants under the Early Decision Program in December 2021 — 1,218 students from a pool of 7,795.

The last time Penn's acceptance rate increased was for the Class of 2024, when 8.07% of applicants were admitted, 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.

In the announcement, Soule wrote that Penn had admitted the most diverse group of students and the highest proportion of students from Philadelphia in its history. She also shared that nearly one-third of admitted students did research during high school, 40% of admitted students worked during high school, and 80% engaged in community service activities.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Penn is still expected to post detailed admissions figures publicly in reports to the U.S. Department of Education and through the Common Data Set online, which are typically available later in the year. Soule wrote in the Penn Admissions announcement that more details about who is enrolling will be shared after the incoming class is settled in May. 

"We wish to celebrate the students we have invited to the Penn community as individuals and in the ways that we got to know them, through their unique combinations of identity, accomplishment, and talent," Soule said in the announcement from Penn Admissions.

For the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, Penn Admissions continued a number of notable policy changes to the application process made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as making SAT and ACT scores optional beginning with the Class of 2025. The test-optional policy will continue through the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. 

The 2022-2023 application cycle was the first where applicants could choose to submit a recommendation from someone other than a teacher. The change was part of an effort to better suit students' non-traditional high school experiences amid the pandemic. Penn previously required students to submit two letters of recommendation, both written by teachers. The other letter of recommendation can now come from anyone who is able to comment on the student's character, according to Penn Admissions.

This was also the first early decision application cycle led by Soule, who began her new post at Penn on July 1, 2021. She replaced former Dean of Admissions Eric Furda, who left at the end of 2020 after a 12-year tenure leading the office. 

"We celebrate their intellect, character, integrity, and persistence to achieve their goals amidst the very many challenges of our world right now. We’re looking forward to welcoming these students to the Penn community as they enrich our campus with their unique voices," Soule wrote in the press release.

The Class of 2026 will be the third class to enter Penn with a high school experience partially disrupted by the pandemic. Penn released their admissions decisions on March 31 at 7 p.m. — returning to a more typical notification date along with the rest of the Ivy League as opposed to last year, when Penn and its peer institutions saw a collective spike in applications and postponed their notification date to allow for more time to review applications. Admitted students will have until May 2 to declare their enrollment.