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Penn and Princeton?

TrapNumenTrapNumen Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
Correct me if my understanding is invalid: Penn has early decision (binding) and Princeton has early action (restrictive). The restrictive early action prohibits applying to other early to other private institutions, but not public institutions.

My scenario: I am a strong student looking to apply to Princeton, Penn, Chicago, and WashU (as reach/first/un-guaranteed choices, if accepted to all/some then I choose which to attend based on that order) in the fall of 2019. I believe that I have a higher chance of getting into Penn than Princeton, which is further reconfirmed to me in the fact that Penn also has a higher acceptance rate than Princeton. Penn, with regular about 9% acceptance, admits more students than Princeton (nearly 3x as many), and Princeton's acceptance rate is about 6.5%. However, with early decision at Penn, the acceptance rate jumps to roughly 23%. To be clear, I do recognize that Penn has a larger student body than Princeton, that more people apply to Penn than Princeton, and that most of Penn's class applies early. I believe I can get into Penn (especially with early decision), however I do like Princeton more than Penn. I'm just unsure as to whether I'd be willing to sacrifice applying early to other schools by applying restrictive early action to Princeton. I don't think my chances will be as high getting into Princeton and I don't want to not get into Penn because I applied regular decision. On the other hand, I also don't want to apply early decision to Penn and then get accepted into both Penn (ED) and then Princeton (regular), and be regretful that I can't attend Princeton due to choosing to apply early decision to Penn. Would it be worth applying early action to Princeton even if I'm questioning whether I'll get in? Princeton is undoubtedly my number one school, between the campus, and the city, and the college, I love it all, yet I don't want to cost myself getting into another quality school. My safety schools are UMich, UVA, and OSU (all public schools), so the restrictive early action wouldn't affect them correct? For WashU and Chicago don't have (or in Chicago's case, have, but also have ED) EA, so I didn't plan on applying EA/ED to them anyways. I don't expect to get into Chicago, and Penn and Princeton are Ivies so they are obviously reach schools, yet I don't know just where my chances lie. I have a few months, but any help/direction/opinions on which school to apply early to would be incredibly appreciated.

Condensed Version / Main Question: I like both Penn and Princeton (Princeton the most), and am having trouble deciding which school I should apply early to. I believe I have a higher chance of getting into Penn (especially should I apply ED), yet I am confident if I apply ED to Penn I will get in, but because of my luck Im sure if I got into Penn ED then I would also get into Princeton regular, and on the flip side I don't want to chance applying to Princeton EA and then not getting into Penn (possibly due to the disparity of ED versus regular at Penn). Which school should I apply early to?

Replies to: Penn and Princeton?

  • DolemiteDolemite Registered User Posts: 1,435 Senior Member
    If you apply Penn ED and get accepted you'll never know the outcome of Princeton because you'll have to withdraw your app. So you can assume you were rejected if it makes you feel better.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 6,678 Senior Member
    edited July 15
    Penn and Princeton appear different enough in their approaches and emphases that I personally would not use one as a substitute for the other. If you really like Princeton, then in at least some ways Penn would not seem to serve as a good compromise. However, if Penn represents your true second choice, then your ED strategy to attain no less than that goal could succeed on the basis of logic.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 6,678 Senior Member
    edited July 15
    Regarding restrictive policies, verify that applications to both in-state and out-of-state publics are permitted.
  • psywarpsywar Registered User Posts: 563 Member
    Agree with @merc81 they are both very different schools and you sound like Princeton is your first choice while Penn like something high-probability.

    Can you share your stats, ECs, etc?
    What do you want to study.

    If you are a strong candidate and Princeton has what you want to study, then why not go for it? You never know. My son applied SCEA to Princeton with the thinking it was like buying a lottery ticket and he might as well try (he had full rides at UT and Texas A&M as backups) and was happily surprised. If you don't make either, your safety schools are pretty great too!

    Good luck.
  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom Registered User Posts: 125 Junior Member
    On a different note, without knowing your home state and stats, I'd strongly suggest you work on your safety list. If you are out of state, UVA and UMich aren't safeties. I know several who were accepted to an Ivy and rejected by those as an OOS applicant.
  • TrapNumenTrapNumen Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Truncated stats:
    35 ACT, 780 Math II Subject Test, 770 US History Subject Test.
    Most rigorous course load in my school. Top 5 class rank. Took (or will take senior year) all AP classes my school offers (7 total) and received AP Scholar Award (I've only taken 3 APs (received two 5s and a 4) thus far due to how scheduling works at my school).
    200+ volunteer hours within last 2 years (I have yet to look at freshman year).
    4 Varsity Letters across 4 sports (At least 1000+ hours have gone into various sports if not twice that).
    Research at somewhat local university (4 hours a day every single weekday of July and continuing into August), despite this being an un-paid position I recently received an award there with a $250 stipend.

    I certainly will check now, thanks for the reminder to do so.

    I live in OH, and I am aware that even with strong stats many qualified out of state candidates are rejected (but thank you for caring enough to take the time to add that). Even with that I don't believe I'll have to much trouble getting into UVA (it'll be more difficult to get into UMich but I think I'll get in). My mother went to UVA for grad school (so partial legacy), and I might be able to apply as in state (doubtfully, but we do own land in VA and get mail there, my family is all from VA and I was born there but we moved to OH when my mother got a job). And as for Safety schools, my options are somewhat limited since they'd most likely have to be in state and with the exceptions of Case and OSU (and possibly Miami or Kenyon), there are not very many highly ranked / challenging schools in OH

    Thank you for your suggestion, and it's good to hear things worked out for your son! Did your son know he had full rides at both those schools before applying SCEA to Princeton? Were those two his safeties then? I've had people tell me in August that they know where they have been accepted to college, which obviously is much sooner than any EA/ED that I am aware of, and I never knew if they were prospectively announcing this or if they actually knew.
  • Penn95Penn95 Registered User Posts: 1,601 Senior Member
    @TrapNumen This is indeed a hard decision. You have the stats to potentially get into either Princeton or Penn but when we are talking about schools on this level, you never know.

    You are right to say that Princeton will be harder to get into both during the early and regular rounds. Penn will be especially easier during ED since it gives a very big boost to its ED applicants. RD at Penn is quite harder. It just boils down to how much risk you are willing to take. You sure have better chances at Penn than Princeton, but you also have good chances a Princeton.

    I would also look at who else from your school is applying SCEA to Princeton. If there is another person or more who are as good or better than you applying to Princeton SCEA, then this might make Penn ED a simpler choice.

  • TrapNumenTrapNumen Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    I know that even with stellar scores, there's still a substantial likelihood that any student will still get denied. Would you happen to know what happens should someone be deferred from ED to the regular decision pool? If they would get accepted after getting deferred (or even waitlisted) would they still be bound to attend under ED? I believe that ED at Penn would be the safer route, and I believe that there would be an almost negligible difference between applying regular to Penn versus applying regular to Princeton: it would be a low chance either way.

    As for my school, like I mentioned earlier I am from Ohio, more specifically a small town. In my class of about 220, I am 3rd, and to the best of my knowledge, the valedictorian is looking at solely OH public universities. The salutatorian (who took the ACT back to back got a 32 and then a 36) was set on Rochester, but I am unsure of how his new score will affect his application choices. He also likes Dartmouth but I doubt he would apply to any other Ivies. Ignoring UMich, there are only two other people in my grade who are even looking out of state (one wants to go to Yale/NU, and MIT for the other one). I will most likely be the only one applying to Princeton, certainly SCEA if I chose to do so. I will be the only one applying ED to Penn if I chose to do that, and most likely only one applying there in general. That was probably more information than necessary but I just wanted to shed light onto my situation.
  • Penn95Penn95 Registered User Posts: 1,601 Senior Member
    @TrapNumen No if you get deferred from Penn ED and get in RD the acceptance is no longer binding.

    I see, you will just have to make a choice on the level of risk you are willing to take. If you would sorely regret not being able to try for Princeton after you have your Penn acceptance then go for Princeton SCEA. If the gap in your preference is not really huge and you want to maximize your chances of getting into at least one of the 2, then Penn ED is the safer choice. Difficult choice indeed but just go with your gut on this one.
  • psywarpsywar Registered User Posts: 563 Member
    @penn95 great advice and way to frame the decision!

    @TrapNumen in Texas you can apply mid-November to UT and A&M, if your stats / class rank are high enough you are an auto-admit. He was also an NMF, so auto-scholarship at A&M. At UT, that doesn't do NMF, he was given a ChemE department scholarship. He was very lucky and he applied as soon as the apps opened. By the time he got the SCEA good news in mid-dec he had the safety options in the bag.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 2,639 Senior Member
    Most schools do not consider grad school affiliation as a legacy, only undergrad. Also, schools have very strict, and very clear, rules about instate. Check what U VA says as many top flagships require you graduate from an instate high school to be considered instate applicant. A long way of saying, U VA may work out, but hardly a shoe in for an OOS student. Same for Michigan. Those are not safeties. OSU, as your instate public, is a safety, though make sure you apply early in the cycle to qualify for Honors and any merit awards.

    There are lots of conversations about the benefit of ED, but especially at Penn which explicitly says legacy only counts for a bump in ED round, not RD, and where recruited athletes are often expected to apply binding ED to keep their roster spot, the bump in ED acceptance rate is not as dramatic for unhooked applicants as it might seem. If Princeton is your first choice, my advice would be to apply SCEA there, rather than try to play the odds thinking the roll of the dice at Penn might mean you get in ED.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Super Moderator Posts: 23,945 Super Moderator
    TrapNumen, Michigan is a reach. You are relying on old data if you think it is a safety, or even a target. Three years ago, 30,000 OOS students applied to Michigan. This coming year, an estimated 55,000 OOS students will apply and 8,000 of those will be admitted. The admit rate for OOS students will have dropped from roughly 30% to roughly 15% in just 4 years. SAT/ACT ranges for enrolled OOS freshmen are similar to those at Brown, Cornell and Penn.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 22,727 Senior Member
    Let's back up. "...a higher chance of getting into Penn than Princeton...Penn, with regular about 9% acceptance, admits more students than Princeton..."

    If you don't know what a target values and looks for, how you show your match, your chances dwindle well under that. Like many, you've given just your stats and the bare bones of the resume. It'll be up to you to actually show the match, which is more than that.
  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 Registered User Posts: 573 Member
    A lot of good advice upthread; I'd add one other thought. UChicago is one of your top choices (although you seem convinced you won't get in - why?), and as of this most recent admissions season, they have an ED2 option. If you use an early bullet on Princeton or Penn and get denied, you might conclude that you'd commit to UChicago in return for the boost you'd presumably get from applying ED2 there. I say "presumably" because UChicago hasn't released full admissions stats yet, but it looks like most of the class was admitted either ED1 or ED2.

    The good news is that, based on your original post, you have a year to figure all this out. Keep researching, visiting and shaping your case - you may have a different list in 2018.
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,029 Senior Member
    OP, my question to you is have you visited all of these schools? Do you have a good feel for them? Because they have fairly distinct personalities. My D visited all of these and had zero interest in 1, a slight interest in 2, and really liked 1.

    Which one is a place where you want to spend 4 years?
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