The Ivy Coach Daily

October 8, 2022

Interview with Penn Admissions Dean

Whitney Soule succeeded Eric Furda as the University of Pennsylvania’s admissions czar (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).

The Philadelphia Inquirer has posted a nice interview with Whitney Soule, the Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions of the University of Pennsylvania. Soule, as our readers may recall, about a year ago succeeded longtime Penn admissions leader Eric Furda, a hero of this college admissions blog for his tell-it-like-it-is style. So what does Dean Soule have to say about the changes she intends to make to the admissions process at the Ivy League institution? What does she have to say about the highly selective college admissions process as a whole?

In dialogue with Susan Snyder in a piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Meet Whitney Soule, leader of the team who decides whether you get into Penn,” Soule says, “Ten years ago, Penn admitted students who demonstrated curiosity, motivation and persistence. The applicant pool of 31,000 represented an abundance of students who understood how their aspirations aligned with what Penn offers and expressed excitement about the contributions they hoped to make within the Penn community and beyond. All of that is still true today, except now we review about 55,000 applications.” Yes, as we’ve said time and again on the pages of this blog, the more things change in elite college admissions, the more they stay the same.

And what does Dean Soule say about Penn’s mission to admit more low-income students? “We can and are doing more. As one example, this year, in addition to the application fee waivers that we offer directly to students, we are sending application fee waiver codes directly to high school and community organization counselors who can share them with students who might find the cost of applying prohibitive.” That seems reasonable!

Finally, what changes are in store at Penn? Says Soule, “Our goal is to bring clarity, simplification, and equity to Penn’s application process. For example, we used to require two teacher recommendations. Starting last year, we changed our requirement to include one teacher recommendation and one recommendation from any adult the applicant felt knew them well and could offer insight about their abilities to problem-solving, learn, contribute, build relationships, etc. We changed this because we know that some applicants are not in an environment where their teachers can get to know them individually, so we wanted to make sure every applicant could select recommenders who have.” Makes sense to us!

We love to read interviews with the leaders of Ivy League admissions offices to see their latest talking points. Do check out this recent one with Penn’s admissions czar!

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