How does Penn review applications, you ask? Four years ago, the University of Pennsylvania’s admissions office changed the process by which they review applications. While the size of the applicant pool generally goes up each and every year not only at Penn but at just about every highly selective school, it’s not like these schools have been hiring more and more admissions officers to review these rising files. In fact, the size of most admissions offices at highly selective colleges hasn’t changed particularly significantly in recent years at all.
And so how does a set batch of admissions officers review more and more applications each years — and all within the same time frame, you ask? Wonder no longer. As reported by Julia Bell of “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, “Under the old system, admissions staff would divide applications and read them individually, usually on self-set hours in solitude. After reading, officers would write up notes with their thoughts and a recommendation to reject, defer, or advance the candidate in the admissions process. Under Penn’s new regimen, admissions officers split into teams of two and read one application at the same time in the office. Then they discuss the application together and come to a consensus before passing it along. After the team of two screens the application, it is given to admission officers responsible for the geographic region where the applicant lives. An exceptional applicant may skip this step and be handed immediately to a selection committee that includes school-based representatives. This committee will make the final decision on a potential acceptance.”
It’s a system that has since been implemented, with a slight modification, at Swarthmore College. And we expect other schools to soon follow the University of Pennsylvania‘s example. The school’s Dean of Admissions Eric Furda is certainly one of the most creative, and candid, admissions czars and so it is no surprise to us that other schools are following his department’s efficient example.