Before Decision Release

Posted on by Dean Furda

We are near the end of the 2015-16 admissions cycle. Penn received a record breaking number of applications – nearly thirty-nine thousand. In this increasingly competitive pool, our work throughout the winter and into March is difficult. We recognize both the limited space in the Class of 2020 and the many talented students and interesting voices in our larger applicant pool.

Our office releases decisions at 5 PM on March 31st. I know that tomorrow will be a challenging and joyful day. In anticipation of this moment, I want to share a few thoughts for our applicants, and all high school seniors—

Admissions decisions do not define you or the value of your accomplishments. There are many brilliant, involved, passionate students in our applicant pool. However, given the limited seats in the class, we cannot admit all of these talented individuals. Admissions decisions reflect a very real space constraint that my colleagues and I feel deeply.

Review your 5Is (identity, intellect, ideas, interests, and inspiration) after decision release. Your thoughts on this self-assessment serve as an important reminder of the things that make you – you! Think back to the work you have completed and keep close your dreams for the future. This is your personal foundation. Make use of the 5Is to remember what is important to you and what inspires you going forward.

Committee discussions unpack fit, the mutual connection between a university’s resources and prospective students’ academic and extracurricular paths. It is encouraging to know that every high school senior will have a unique fit with each of the institutions to which they apply. When you combine the 5Is (your self-assessment) with the 4Cs (the culture, curriculum, community and conclusions at each of your college choices), the application process has an infinite number of positive outcomes. Your unique identity will find a different and interesting expression on each potential college campus.

My colleagues and I are honored to be part of your college journey.


*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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