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How to Get Into Penn State: Admissions Stats, Tips and More

UserMark time13 January,2022

Pennsylvania State University is a leading public research university in Pennsylvania, the United States. Reputed as the ‘Public Ivies’ and well-known for its flagship University Park campus, the Pennsylvania State University was established in 1855 and is noted for conducting extensive research across multiple domains. The university is one of the four universities that receive land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant research consortia. According to Wikipedia, Penn State’s research expenditures totaled around $836 million during 2016.

This article looks into every significant aspect concerning Penn State admission, including acceptance rate, admission process, criteria, statistics, and more.

Penn State Acceptance Statistics

The figures below detail the application of first choices for the summer/fall of 2021 from the official PSU admissions webpage. These are not cutoffs or averages.

High School GPA à 3.56 to 3.91 for the University Park/main campus and 3.06 to 3.65 for all other campuses.

SAT Scores  à 1280- 1450 for the main university campus and 1090 – 1300 for other campuses

Composite ACT Scores à 29-33 for the University Park campus and 23-30 for all other campuses

The following are the number of applications received by Penn State in the Summer-Fall of 2019.

Total Applications Received By The Main Campus à 95999

Total First-Year Students Selected Across All Campusesà 15443

Total First-Year Students At The University Park Campus à 8305

Total International Students In The First Year à 14962

How Challenging Is It to Get Into Penn State?

  • The overall Penn State acceptance rate in the fall of 2020 was around 76.0%. This is the figure of the acceptance rate in Penn State main campus. More than 95800 college applications were submitted, and the average ACT scores of the accepted applicants were 23-30. The average GPA was around 3.28 to 3.64.
  • In the 2021 admission cycle, approximately 73,861 students applied for Penn State graduate & post-graduate programs. Amongst the lot, 40,031 were admitted, leading to an admissions rate of 54.2%.

While not as difficult as getting into MIT or Harvard, Penn State is still one tough nut to crack. The selection process is moderately competitive and, as evident from the figures, students with higher-than-average school GPAs and top percentile scores in SATs & ACTs.

Penn State is quite selective and one of the more competitive public universities in the country. An applicant’s chances of getting selected primarily vary according to their profile and application strength.

Read on to determine your actual chances of getting admission to Penn State. Then, find out the odds of your acceptance, and get access to tips on how to improve your profile.

Penn State’s Application Process

Below is a brief rundown of the overall Penn State application process.

Deadlines:

Early Action à November 1 to receive a response by December 24

Regular Rolling Process à December 1 to receive a call-back by January 1

Application Requirements:

  • Penn State Application, Common App, or Coalition Application
  • Self-Reported Academic Record
  • Standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE)

One particular factor that Penn State considers extremely important to its admission process is the applicant’s GPA. The rigor of one’s secondary school record is considered of paramount importance. Apart from the GPA score, six more factors are taken into consideration:

  • standardized test scores,
  •  talent/ability,
  • legacy status,
  • geographical residence,
  • state residency, and
  •  racial/ethnic status.

The Covid-19 pandemic compelled Penn State to go test-optional during the 2020-21 admissions cycle. According to reports, admission tests will remain optional through Summer/Fall 2023.

The following excerpts are the own words of Penn State University’s admissions department.

 "The most important piece of our review is your academic record, which represents your individual four years of academic development…We take a hard look at the many roles you serve as a student, sibling, athlete, son or daughter, volunteer, and employee. Assembling a class of students with diverse interests and experiences is a task the university takes seriously. Penn State does not have a minimum GPA or standardized test score for admission. There are no such things as 'cut-offs.' We review students taking into account a full range of factors."

Analyzing The Academic Profile of Accepted Applications: What the Penn States Looks For?

We begin by looking at the grade point averages of accepted students.

Most schools across the United States of America employ a weighted average of 4.0. The GPA scores of Penn State University’s accepted profiles hover around the 3.558 mark.  It would help if you had a mix of As and Bs & a minimum of Cs for scoring an average GPA of 3.5.  The requirement is the same across all of Penn State's campuses.

 SAT/ACT à

For SATs, the average middle 50% test scores for enrolled students are :

  • University Park or Main Campus: 1280-1450 
  • All other campuses: 1090-1300 

For ACTs, the average middle scores are:

  • University Park: 29-33
  • All other campuses: 23-30

According to Penn State’s 2020–21 Common Data Set, academic GPA is THE MOST IMPORTANT factor during the admissions process. In addition, a rigorous secondary school record is another IMPORTANT aspect taken into consideration.

Apart from these two aspects, Penn State University looks into the following elements with particular interest.

  • Standardized test scores
  • Talent/ability
  • Alumni/ae relation
  • Geographical residence
  • State residency
  • Racial/ethnic status
  • Application essays (for pre-med applications only)

The following factors are NOT deemed that much important.

  • Class rank
  • Application essay
  • Recommendations
  • Interview
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Character/personal qualities
  • First-generation
  • Religious affiliation/commitment
  • Volunteer work
  • Work experience
  • Level of applicant’s interest

 At Penn State, selectivity in course programs varies from campus to campus. The main campus at University Park is the most competitive one for gaining admission. However, some special programs are challenging to get into.

The applicant’s academic record is the most critical part of the overall application. This is especially so as Penn State does not consider factors like application essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities, etc.

How to Boost Improve Your Chances of Getting into Penn State

The following tips come from MAH’s SMEs who qualified from Penn State in the past ten years.

 1. Try To Achieve At Least 3.91 & Take On The Most Challenging Classes

 Most graduate schools, especially reputed ones such as Penn State, use the Academic Index. This metric combines academic factors employed by Ivy League universities to rank applicants' competitiveness and evaluate applications before considering any other aspect. This enables them to sieve through the hundreds of thousands of applications they encounter every academic cycle.

If you want to improve the chances of selection, ensure you meet the minimum qualifications by attaining a high GPA. Challenge yourself by participating in the most rigorous curriculum available at your high school. If possible, take multiple AP (Advanced Placement) and honors courses every year.

2. Aim for a 1450 SAT and 33 ACT

Try your level best to aim for the upper end of the middle 50% standardized test scores — 1450 SAT and 33 ACT (for the University Park campus). It’s ok if you fall within the accepted average score range since the COVID-19 test-optional policies made things quite lenient. However, it is best to score above the 25th percentile.

3. Apply Early

Penn State Early Action is a system that is applicable for first-year undergraduates. It involves students submitting a complete application and a Self-Reported Academic Record within November 1. One can include their SAT/ACT scores as well.

Students applying via the Early Action plan receive information regarding their selection by December 24 and become eligible for the financial-aid awarding process, if applicable. The whole process is non-binding, and students have until May 1 the following year to pay their deposit or commit to Penn State.  

 5. Consider The Summer Session

 If your eyes are set on the University Park main campus, try to apply during the summer session to increase your chances of admission.

Such a decision indicates to Penn State that you are willing to start early during the summer session. The university will initially review your application and consider you for the first-choice semester. If they cannot offer admission, they will consider you for the alternate session commencement.

Well, that rounds up this article. I hope it acts as a valuable guide for anyone looking to gain admission to Penn State University. And, if you have cracked the entrance and looking for some quality academic assistance to cope with the pressure, MyAssignmentHelp.com is the best place to look for quality live tutoring.

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