There is a growing chorus calling for a June 1 reply date. While I respect decisions made by my colleagues at other institutions, knowing they are making the best decisions possible for their college or university, here is my thinking. I fully expect that the wait list will be utilized heavily this year, for a number of reasons.
There is uncertainty on many fronts that may influence student enrollment: family finances are unpredictable, and there are also questions about how far parents may be willing to send their child away to college. Additionally, the U.S. Department of State has temporarily suspended visa services globally and currently there is very limited visa appointment availability. This is devastating news for our international community and may mean that some students may not be able to make it to campus for the fall term.
If the University of Pennsylvania pushed the reply date to June 1, the month of June would be devoted to wait list activity, which would push out the finalization of the class at Penn into July, resulting in summer melt at other institutions.
Another reason why, in my opinion, May 1 is still preferable over June 1, is one of academic planning and transition for our incoming first-year class. Penn’s undergraduate schools and academic programs utilize the better part of June and July for academic advising. Our University Life partners utilize the latter part of July into August for mandatory online pre-orientation learning, a series called Thrive at Penn (TAP), to assist students and families for the social transition into the Penn community. Pushing the finalization of the class would have significant ripple effects into this pre-enrollment planning process.
Of course either May 1 or June 1 can be a moot point depending on how events unfold hourly around Covid-19. Penn Admissions, Student Financial Services and our academic and student life partners across campus will treat each individual and their family circumstances on a case-by-case basis. My colleagues and I also value the partnership with college counselors and community-based organization leaders around the globe when, together, we can support the individual needs of our students.
I do share the optimism that with either May 1 or June 1 that all of our institutions will welcome a class in late August to our campuses. It is that hope for the class of 2024 that keeps all of us ‘around the table’ as admissions and college counseling colleagues energetic to take on the challenges we face each day in these uncertain times.