February 15, 2008
By Naomi Jagoda
For the class of 2012, the University received the largest number of applications in the school’s history, the Admissions office announced this week.
But the less-than-1-percent rise in the number of total applicants to Penn is significantly less than increases reported by peer institutions.
A total of 22,794 students applied to Penn in the 2007-2008 admissions cycle, representing a .7-percent increase over the class of 2011’s previously record-breaking number of 22,646 applications.
The number of students who applied regular decision also rose by a small amount. This admissions cycle, 18,865 prospective students applied regular decision, compared to 18,645 in the previous cycle. Early-decision application numbers were down this year by 1.5 percent.
Application numbers remained about the same at all four undergraduate schools, interim Dean of Admissions Eric Kaplan said.
Penn’s relatively steady total numbers were unusual among its peer institutions. Harvard University’s application numbers saw an increase of 19 percent and Dartmouth University also saw a double-digit increase. At Princeton, Brown and Cornell application numbers rose by more than 5 percent.
Kaplan said he is not concerned about the relatively small increase in applications this year because Penn’s application numbers grew by 10 percent for the 2006-2007 admissions cycle.
“It’s impossible to sustain those increases every year,” he said.
Steven Goodman, an education consultant based in Washington D.C., said he believes Kaplan’s statement is valid.
“One can’t constantly have dramatic increases,” he said.
Goodman also said he believes Penn’s consistently large applicant pool means that students are “inherently comfortable with the University as an institution.”
However, Goodman said Penn has reason to be concerned if its growth rate remains consistently lower than other Ivies’ rates because it will make Penn appear to be less selective.
If that ends up being the case, “it may be that Penn needs to do slightly more aggressive outreach,” he said.
Kaplan said there were not substantial differences in the demographics of the applicant pool compared to last year, though there was a small increase in the number of applicants who reside greater distances from Philadelphia.
There were, however, significant increases in the method of application. 73 percent of prospective students used the Common Application rather than Penn’s own application, up from 64 percent in 2006-2007.
This is the last year that Penn will offer its own application. Starting with the class of 2013, applicants must apply using the Common Application or the Universal College Application, which Penn will accept for the first time this fall.
The number of applicants who applied online increased from 18,849 to 20,725.
Regular decision applicant Raffi Greenberg, a senior at J.R. Masterman High School in Philadelphia, said he is optimistic about his chances of admission despite Penn’s large application numbers.
“It’s definitely somewhat intimidating because there are so many strong applicants,” Greenberg said.