Admissions Rate Drops to 12.3 Percent

Daily Pennsylvanian
March 30, 2011

By Seth Zweifler

Regular decision admissions at Penn has officially joined the single-digit club.

On Wednesday, the Admissions Office reported that 9.5 percent of regular decision applicants were admitted to the Class of 2015, down from 11.4 percent last year. This marks the first time that the University’s regular decision acceptance rate has dipped below the 10-percent mark.

Penn’s overall acceptance rate is 12.3 percent, down from 14.2 percent last year. This number also marks a record low, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said.

This admissions cycle, the University admitted a total of 3,880 of 31,659 students, Furda said. Last year, 26,938 students applied and 3,830 were accepted.

The target enrollment across all four undergraduate schools is 2,420 students. Overall, this is the most selective year ever for Penn.

“We had a great amount of breadth and depth to choose from in our applicant pool,” Furda said. “I think it’s going to strike people when they see how many percentage points came off the admit rate.”

Overall applications to the Class of 2015 rose by 18 percent.

Because class sizes remain approximately the same from year to year, it was only natural for Penn’s acceptance rate to drop by as much as it did, Furda said.

For Furda, this year’s jump in applications allowed the Admissions Office to “better shape the incoming class,” especially in terms of academic potential “across a variety of fields.”

The University was able to admit more students than ever before in traditionally under-enrolled majors like physics and mathematics, he said.

Compared to last year, minority representation is up among this year’s prospective class. Overall, self-identified minority students – defined by the Admissions Office as Asian, black, Latino and American Indian – make up 52 percent of the admitted class, up from 48 percent last year, which also included native Hawaiians.

Like last year, members of the Class of 2015 come from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. International students make up 11 percent of the prospective class.

Compared with last year’s 50-50 male-female ratio, the newly-admitted class consists of 51 percent males and 49 percent females.

All Ivy League schools released admissions decisions at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities saw record-low acceptance rates, coming in at 6.9 percent, 6.2 percent, 8.39 percent and 7.35 percent, respectively.

On the whole, Ann Selvitelli, director of college counseling at Suffield Academy in Suffield, Conn., said the numbers did not surprise her.

“You hope things will die down eventually, but there’s really no way to predict whether a student will be accepted to an Ivy League school anymore,” Selvitelli, a 1995 Graduate School of Education alumna, said.

1989 Graduate School of Education alumnus Steven Goodman, an educational consultant at Top Colleges, agreed, adding that students in future years will probably continue to apply to greater numbers of schools “as the only rational response to the low [acceptance] rates.”

Admitted students said Penn’s record-low numbers made them feel particularly pleased with their decisions.

“It’s an honor to know that Penn picked me out of such a small number,” said Selena Sudol, a senior at Absegami High School in Galloway, N.J., who was admitted to the School of Nursing. Sudol, who is currently considering offers from Penn and Villanova University, added that “there was lots of yelling [when I found out].”

“I’m surprised that I still have my voice after seeing my decision,” said Grace Zhang, a senior at Bentonville High School in Bentonville, Ark., who was admitted to the Wharton School. “Penn is definitely a great fit for me.”

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