The University of Pennsylvania only received 6,088 Early Decision (ED) applications for its Class of 2024 — down from 7,109 just last fall. That’s more than 14% drop from last year’s number of ED applications.
The news was first reported in The Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn’s student newspaper. Before the sudden drop this year, the number of ED applicants to Penn had been rising for years.
While some may argue that an uptick in fires in California or the lack of a recent SAT score re-centering are to blame, the obvious actual reason for the sudden drop in Penn’s ED application numbers is because Penn chose to break its long-time one 650-word supplemental essay question into two shorter essays (still totaling 650 words in all) this application cycle. Enough students make application choices based on perceived effort to complete Common App supplements alone; therefore, seeing two distinct essay prompts scared off up to 1,000 high school seniors – who clearly were not all that invested in applying to Penn to begin with – from applying to Penn Early Decision this fall.
Just goes to show, many students are not as focused on perceived college fit as they are on perceived college application fit.
Penn’s Former Supplemental Essay Question:
How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying. (400-650 words)
Penn’s Current Supplemental Essay Questions:
How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected. (300-450 words)
At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)
As one can see above, the change in Penn’s supplemental writing requirement was implemented in such a way as to provide two direct – and more specific – leading questions to Penn applicants in order to give Penn’s admissions team members the information that they really always wanted but were clearly not getting enough of by using Penn’s old 650-word essay prompt alone. Sadly, too few students must have been capable of organizing their thoughts clearly and articulately in the old 650-word responses. But even fewer were even willing to try answering two questions on Penn’s supplement this admissions cycle. Thus, by creating more concrete language in two prompts, Penn upset the equilibrium of its apple cart.
In other news, don’t you wish you had applied to Penn ED this year?!