Penn State

Penn State sees rise in applications

More than 58,000 prospective students have applied to Penn State for next year, a number that is far ahead of last year’s pace, university officials said.

The mark is much higher than where undergraduate applications were at this time last year, when the university had received about 49,500 applications, said Rob Pangborn, a university vice president and the dean for undergraduate education. That’s an increase of 8,500, or 17 percent.

More importantly, officials say, it’s even ahead of the pace at this time in 2012, which until now had the record of about 56,500 applications.

“The story the numbers tell is that Penn State continues to be a very popular choice, both locally and beyond our state borders,” said spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz.

So far, the university has extended offers to 3,200 prospective students. The admissions cycle ends May 1, which is the deadline for prospective students to accept their offers.

Pangborn said all of the university’s colleges have seen an increase in applications over this time last year, and it varies from 10 to 30 percent.

The largest colleges — the College of Engineering, Smeal College of Business, Eberly College of Science and the College of the Liberal Arts — get the most applications, he said.

Applicants who haven’t yet picked a major are included in what the university dubs the division of undergraduate studies, and that, too, is among the most-applied-to of Penn State’s academic units.

The College of Agricultural Sciences is one of the colleges that, so far, has seen a 20 percent increase in its applications over last year.

A staffer who’s involved with undergraduate recruiting, Marianne Fivek, said her college is excited about the increase, though it comes as no surprise because of the interest she and her team have seen on the recruiting trail from students and their families.

Fivek pointed to programs that study food and water supply as ones that attracted applicants.

“Students are looking at our programs as where they can go and get a baccalaureate degree and go right into the workforce because of the demand,” she said.

She said the quality of applications is “incredibly robust,” too.

The colleges of Communications, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Engineering, and Health and Human Development have also seen increases of 20 percent or more.