Shaping a Class

Posted on by Dean Furda

Last week students admitted Early Decision to Penn’s class of 2019 visited campus for ConnectED Quaker Day. The energy in Irvine Auditorium with over 800 students and parents for the morning welcome was especially high, particularly on a day that was so chilly. I enjoyed giving a few shout outs to admitted students, particularly one student who wrote to us that he wanted to be known as Smooth Timmy D. Seeing Timmy say hi to the whole auditorium confirmed that his persona matched the name. He was being real. He was being honest. And that came across in his application.

Even in a world of constant contact through our networked lives, seeing students actually hanging out in Penn’s Hall of Flags during the day, talking, laughing and, of course, taking selfies is absolute proof (to me) that a residential college experience is still relevant. Maybe even more relevant.

I also told the students that the admissions office was currently reviewing applications to build the rest of the class around them.

Penn Admissions took an incremental (but very important) step towards that goal at 5:00 on February 12 by sending a ‘Likely’ communication to around 200 students. Over the next 6 weeks we will continue to identify those students whose voices have come across through their essays, letters of recommendations and alumni interviews. Through this evaluation process we will continue to bring individual students, who together, will become a class that will be distinctive from any other class admitted to Penn. Distinctive because no one class can be replicated. And that is what is most exciting.

As a parent I know that my child cannot be summed up in a few pages or a 45 minute conversation. The process is not a perfect one nor do we expect students to be perfect. But in a very human way admissions officers at colleges and universities around the world are paying close attention to the individuals who have chosen to share their story with us. Regardless of the admission outcome applicants, as long as you have been real and honest in your list creation and telling your story, you will find yourself in a genuine place where you will lend your voice to a distinctive class of students next fall.


*PAGE 217
refers to the always legendary and occasionally dreaded essay which was once a mainstay of the University of Pennsylvania application. The question read as follows: “You have just finished your three hundred page autobiography. Please submit page 217.”

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