How U Penn Admits Students

Recently, there’s been an upsurge among college students interested in reviewing their application files. This review of personal educational records is permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). But will perusing your application file provide any useful info?

Student requests for their college admissions records prompt some admissions offices to purge documents.

For Christy Qiu, a first-year student at the University of Pennsylvania, the answer is no. In an article published in The Daily Pennsylvanian” titled I looked at my Penn admissions file, and you should too,” 

Qiu describes what she found: “…most of [my file] was a replica of my Common App [essay]…my GPA, my senior coursework, my SAT scores, my SAT II scores, and my AP scores.” In addition, a standardized form indicated her AI, or academic index score (this is a measure that takes into account an applicant’s GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores), the acronym FG (for “first generation;” first generation students are highly coveted at selective colleges), and three numbers mysteriously coded “E,” “I,” and “M.”

That’s it. Why the paucity of information? Why the mysterious code? In response to the scrutiny Harvard University is experiencing because of the ongoing racially charged Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University case concerned admissions officers at other colleges and universities are offering students redacted versions of their application files. Is that legal? Yes, as the FERPA permits college admissions officers a great deal of leeway in interpreting the phrase “educational records.”

Should students review their admission application files? There are many reasons students might want to do so. But if students imagine that they will gain insight into the admissions officers’ subjective impressions of them, they will probably be disappointed.

Want to find out more about the college admissions process? 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.