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Penn Admissions Blog

Welcome to the First Members of the Class of 2026
Dean Whitney Soule | December 16, 2021

Welcome to the first members of the class of 2026 who were admitted under the Early Decision and QuestBridge Match application plans! We can’t wait for these inquisitive, motivated and caring students to join our campus community, and to meet each other, as they begin their Penn journeys. In reviewing nearly 8,000 applications this cycle, we searched for applicants who – each in their own way – demonstrated many of the values central to the Penn community.

Professors are Mentors

Penn faculty enjoy getting to know their students inside and outside of the classroom. We were so impressed by the many ways our ED candidates still managed to connect with their teachers, even through Zoom or online learning. Teachers expressed their gratitude for the students who kept class discussions vibrant, were prepared, introduced games, and even included their pets and younger siblings to help themselves – and others - make the most out of a challenging year. These qualities of intellectual curiosity, generosity and adaptability in the face of uncertainties will continue to enliven our Penn learning spaces.

Experiential Learning

Penn students use their curiosity to solve real-world problems, taking what they learn in the classroom and creating change for good in the world around them. Our newest Penn students are engaged in research tackling the toughest challenges of modern medicine, are advocates in combating climate change, and are young leaders in the fight for racial justice.  Time and time again, we were inspired by students who went beyond the classroom to channel their knowledge into productive action.

Culture of Collaborating and Coming Together & Support Systems

We’ve seen robust examples of student collaboration throughout our applicant pool, including students who found ways to maintain their connections with their peers despite the challenges of virtual schooling and social distancing. Some students launched podcasts, started clubs to create or distribute PPE or schedule vaccine appointments, worked with their teachers to strengthen school community life, and found ways to volunteer within their local communities or help out more within their families.

And given the many challenges of the past year, it’s important to ask for help when you need it.  As our world continues to experience so many disruptions from the ongoing pandemic, with certain uncertainty and challenges ahead, we celebrate the students who have sought help from their support systems and who have also lent a hand to help others. Not everything in college – or in life – always goes as planned. Knowing where and how to ask for help when you need it, and being willing to offer that help to others, will enable our future Penn students to persist through inevitable challenges and to strengthen Penn’s caring and supportive community.

We can’t wait to welcome these exceptional young people to our campus and to watch them use their talents to bring joy and growth to this community. We know the entire Penn family stands ready to welcome them, and we offer our deep appreciation to all of the students who demonstrated their interest in Penn through this recent application cycle.

Welcome and congratulations again, future Quakers!


About the author
Dean Whitney Soule

I’ve worked in college admissions for over 30 years, and I focus on building bridges between what ‘has been’ and what ‘can be’ so that the whole process can become less complicated yet still effective for students to find their way into college.  I especially love meeting new students when they arrive each year because it’s so fun to match them to the stories and information that we know from their applications!

I love coffee, running, snacking all day, and laughing.  I also adore dogs.  I spend a lot of time with my nutty English Bulldog, Stella, and I can be very easily distracted by silly dog memes. My favorite location on Penn's campus is the entire stretch of Locust Walk, and I love authentic Philly cheesesteaks. You can reach me at deansoule@admissions.upenn.edu.

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