Following a record-breaking freshman class, Penn State Executive Director for Undergraduate Admissions Clark Brigger is devising a strategy to closely monitor the acceptance rate for the Class of 2021.
“What we will have to do is, one, set our target, and, two, we will have to determine how to adjust our modeling to ensure an appropriate class size,” Brigger said.
The Class of 2020 outnumbers the Class of 2019 by close to 1,000 students, Brigger said.
The increase in the admissions yield that occurred in April wasn’t captured by a series of predictive models used by Undergraduate Admissions.
“We had been in a downward trend if you looked across a five years’ time frame — every yield was lower and lower and lower,” Brigger said. “We anticipated that we would continue to decline, or at best level out where we were at in 2015.”
For about 30 years, Admissions had relied on a student information system called ISIS. With last year’s implementation of LionPath to replace it, Brigger said, it was difficult to access certain data trends and algorithms.
Brigger equates ISIS to a single-speed bicycle that, back in 1983, was a top-notch product that only needed minor yearly adjustments. LionPath, however, was like a new 30-speed bicycle with unfamiliar features, he said.
The Admissions team had only just begun using LionPath last August, as applications began flowing in. By Nov. 30, the priority filing deadline for applicants, admissions counselors were still in training.
Yet that pool of candidates represented 80 percent of the freshmen who would commit to University Park, Brigger said.
Tense months awaiting the passage of the Pennsylvania budget further contributed to the freshman class totaling 8,800 students, Brigger said.
“There was a lot of concern that the university wouldn’t have those state funds,” Brigger said. “To some extent, we were learning forward so we would not under-enroll.”
Official targets for admissions season will not be set until November, but Brigger said figures may hover around 7,600 — matching the size of the Class of 2019.
Alison Kuznitz is a Penn State journalism student.