Early Decision Applications Drop at Penn

Penn received 6,088 early decision applications for the Class of 2024 — a more than 14% decline from last year’s number of applications.

The popularity of Early Decision continues to grow, so what happened at Penn?

That’s a striking drop. To put the numbers in perspective, 7,110 applied for the Class of 2023; 7,074 for the Class of 2022; and 6,147 for the Class of 2021.

What gives?

According to Eric Furda, Dean of Admissions at Penn, the swell of ED applicants after 2017—the year the SAT was redesigned—was a consequence of what he calls the SAT bump. Many students who took the SAT in 2017 and later, saw their scores go improve along certain areas of distribution, and that resulted in students believing they were in a more competitive position than those who took the SAT prior to 2017.

But the “SAT bump” Furda cites hardly accounts for the drop in ED applicants. After all, Penn’s ED applications were on the rise well before the SAT redesign. In fact, ED applications submitted to Penn have climbed from the 2,000s to the 3,000s onto the 4,000s, 5,000s, 6,000s and 7,000s during the last ten years.

Others have suggested that Penn’s new supplemental prompts are the cause. Before this year, Penn required applicants to write a single 650-word essay explaining the why they wanted to attend the university. This year, Penn required two separate essays: one, the usual “why us?” capped at 450 and the second about the applicant’s learning outside of classroom capped at 200 words. For insight into how to respond to Penn’s new supplemental essay prompts, click here.

But that doesn’t explain the drop either. If you want to attend Penn, are you really going to balk at having to write two essays that total 650 words rather than one essay that totals 650?

Susan brought back my son’s smile! Once he started working with her, he was actually excited about working on his application essays. She truly empowered him and I am so grateful we found her.

                                                                        Linda G, mother of Houston, TX high school senior

So how to explain this precipitous drop? It’s certainly not the school’s US News & World Report ranking which shows that Penn rose last year from 8th to 6th in the country. 

We may gain more insight in the coming weeks after other comparable universities report their data concerning both their ED and RD applicant pools.

Want help getting in to the University of Pennsylvania or any other elite university? Call me. I’m always ready to help you!

Dr. Osborn works with students from all over the world to help them reach their independent, college, and graduate school goals. Through a personal, one-on-one approach, Dr. Osborn creates an individualized plan for each student based on the student’s strengths, passions, and career aspirations. Her holistic approach helps students perform well in school and secure admission to top colleges.  

About The Author

Susan Osborn, Ph.D., has spent 30 years in higher education, in admissions at Vassar College, in the English department and Writing Program at Rutgers University, in the lab at The New Jersey Center for Research on Writing, and as a private tutor. Dr. Osborn is also an award-winning writer and scholar and she brings both her education smarts and her writing smarts to every student relationship.