One of the most exhilarating features of college admissions work – on both the college side and the high school side – is that any given time of year brings multiple and overlapping objectives, processes and timelines. The cyclical nature of our work means that each season of the year is both a culmination of the work that has already taken place and a foundation for the work ahead. The process of putting together an incoming college class, or advising a class of high school seniors on their college applications, is really a series of interrelated processes linked to each other.
What do I mean by this? Consider what’s happening inside the Penn Admissions office at the moment. By late February, we have concluded our evaluation process of the nearly 44,000 applications we received for the class of 2022. This is a months-long evaluation process that relies upon steady progress every day. Our recruitment efforts in the fall – visiting high schools, collaborating with community based organizations, and participating in group travel with our peers – contributes to a robust applicant pool. We have begun our selection process of crafting an incoming class of students who represent a broad array of diverse experiences and perspectives in each of our four undergraduate schools and coordinated dual-degree programs. In April, we will host over 1,000 admitted students and their guests on campus for a multi-day visit program as students weigh their college choices and decide on a best fit. Other yield activities will make use of social media and virtual technologies to reach even wider among our admitted students. At the same time, we are also hosting hundreds, sometimes thousands, of students and their families on campus daily who are just beginning their college discovery process. We offer transfer information sessions for several weeks in the late winter for students interested in transferring from another college to Penn. Finally, our Early Decision admitted students have already completed their enrollment process, received their financial aid packages if necessary, and are making plans for their arrival on campus. The discovery, application, evaluation and enrollment processes, while separate and distinct for individual students, intersect and overlap in dynamic ways within our office at this and all times of the year.
Students experience these interrelated processes on a much more individual basis. Right now, some seniors already know where they will be heading off to college next year and are making plans to complete their enrollment process. Others are waiting to receive news and will continue their evaluation process of deciding what school is right for them. Younger students are starting or continuing their college search process, using school breaks and the upcoming summer to visit campuses, reflect on their own identity and aspirations, and assess potential schools that interest them. Counselors, teachers and parents advise and accompany throughout all stages of this process, providing support for students as they move through this exciting time of educational transition in their lives.
For students and families who are entering or in the middle of any of these processes, I encourage you to make use of the resources on this page to assist you. The Five I’s and Four C’s is a helpful framework for students’ internal and external assessment during the discovery and application process and can be especially useful during college visits and when building a list. The radio show The Process brings together experts from the field to offer insights about every phase of the college search and planning process. Tune into The Process, on the last Friday of every month from 1:00 to 2:00 PM, on SiriusXM Stars Channel 109, and call in with your questions at 888-94-STARS (888-947-8277). We look forward to hearing from you.