January 25, 2016
As Penn starts to review regular decision applicants, the Admissions Office is noting an increase in diversity among high school seniors shooting for Penn.
This year, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said, the University had about 11,000 high schools in its applicant pool, which is higher than in past years.
The increase in the number of high schools could be due to the recruitment methods the Admissions Office has been using. In some ways, the Office’s outreach efforts are similar to previous years. Many of the stops that the Admissions Office makes to promote Penn remain the same.
For example, the University continues to send representatives out to the Exploring College Options tour every fall and spring, and they travel to all 50 states with representatives from four other schools to give presentations and answer questions.
However, Furda said that the Office has also tried to increase its outreach by connecting with more organizations helping underprivileged students get to college. While visiting high schools individually can be more time consuming, giving presentations to organizations like these helps increase awareness of the school to a broader range of students who might not have otherwise thought of the Ivies as a realistic option.
The grant-based financial aid policy is also another potential reason for the increased number of high schools in the Penn applicant pool.
“Now that we have a grant-based policy, students and families who may not have thought about Penn in the past are thinking about Penn,” Furda said.
Furda added that some of the new schools showing up in the Penn applicant pool could also just be from new charter schools that are starting to produce graduating classes or new international schools that Penn is reaching out to as admissions counselors travel abroad to spread the word.
But overall, the efforts of the office seem to be working.
“Students are thinking about Penn that in the past were not thinking about Penn. High schools are appearing in our applicant pool that were not there before,” Furda said.
Though Furda maintained that Penn is working to become more geographically diverse, Brian Taylor, director of the college counseling practice Ivy Coach, is skeptical that efforts to increase geographic diversity have been as important to schools like Penn as efforts to increase socio-economic diversity.
“I would guess that geographic diversity does not get as much attention as does the diversity to appeal to underprivileged kids,” Taylor said. “It would definitely be intelligent for schools like Penn to try to recruit from schools where they don’t have a foothold.”
Geographically, in Early Decision at least, Penn has supposedly been somewhat successful in achieving more diversity.
“The geographic distribution is enormous,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in her biannual meeting with the Daily Pennsylvanian this month. “We’ve had the most increase in early decision applications in the Southwest and South.”
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