Regular decision applicants await admissions results

Seth Zweifler

March 27, 2011

Regular decision applicants are waiting anxiously to learn whether they will have a spot in Penn’s Class of 2015.

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, more than 26,000 students — the largest regular decision applicant pool in the University’s history — will find out their admissions fate.

Along with Penn, all other Ivy League schools plan to inform applicants of their decisions on Wednesday. For Dean of Admissions Eric Furda, that day marks “a real life-changer” for prospective students.

With such a short amount of time to go, though, Furda advised applicants to keep things in perspective as they hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

“If you get into a lot of places, you should feel great … but if you get into just one place, you should also feel great,” he said. “In the end, you’re only going to be able to attend one school anyway.”

For high-school seniors, emotions range from excitement to nervousness to a mix of both.

Regular decision applicant Jenny Zhou — a senior at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. — said she is “way more excited than nervous” to learn her admissions fate.

“When you get into college admissions at this point, it’s really out of your hands,” she said.

However, regular decision applicant Alexandria Quinere — a senior at Bergenfield High School in Bergenfield, N.J. — said she is “definitely a bit anxious” for Wednesday to roll around.

“A handful of my friends have already been accepted to their top choices, so that puts a lot of pressure on me if I don’t get in,” she said. “Getting rejected can be a pretty awkward feeling.”

Though most of Penn’s peer schools have yet to release regular decision acceptance rates, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced March 14 that 9.6 percent of applicants had been admitted — a record low.

Last year, Penn’s overall acceptance rate was 14.2 percent — a 2.9-percent drop from the previous year’s total. With a 17-percent rise in applications for the Class of 2015, admissions experts are expecting to see a similar trend this time around.

President of Hernandez College Consulting Michele Hernandez said she would not be surprised if the University’s acceptance rate dipped by as much as 3 percent.

Bev Taylor, founder of college admissions consulting firm Ivy Coach, agreed, adding that Penn’s responsibility at this stage in the game is “to make the kids they admit want to come.”

For his part, Furda is looking to do what he can to sweeten the deal for prospective students once their decisions are available.

For the first time in the University’s history, Furda said this year’s website for admitted students will include video interviews with members of the Admissions Dean’s Advisory Board — a newly created group made up of about 20 undergraduates. In early March, Penn became one of the first schools in the nation to use a similar video to inform likely letter recipients of their upcoming acceptance to Penn.

Jeffrey Durso-Finley, director of college counseling at The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, N.J., said that a video for admitted students “probably won’t have a huge impact on matriculation rates [at Penn].” However, he thinks that it is a good practice overall.

“It seems like a good way to communicate the ethos of a school,” he said. “It’s a nice touch to see a human face behind all the numbers.”