Gay Students Help Recruit Gay Applicants at Penn

It’s a new strategy designed to attract more gay students to the Ivy League school.

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Inside Higher Ed has an interesting story chronicling a new recruiting strategy at the University of Pennsylvania. As the story mentions, it's common for schools to use current students to talk to prospectives who share the same interests. But Penn is one of the first schools to use gay students to recruit gay applicants (Dartmouth is another).

Now, the initial question that arises is: How does Penn know if a student is gay? The school says it doesn't directly ask applicants to identify themselves as gay, but Penn is using other application materials for inferences, like essays and club memberships. There has been some pushing to include a sexual orientation question on the Common Application, the report says. For now, the current strategy seems to be working just fine.

"We are speaking to students on the areas that they are most interested in," Penn's dean of admissions, Eric Furda, tells Inside Higher Ed.

"In just the same way that honors students may like to hear from other honors students, or black students from other black students, gay and lesbian students want to hear what a campus has to offer from the perspective of the gay and lesbian community," says Jack Miner, associate registrar at Ohio State University and the chair of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Caucus of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. "Speaking to someone who knows this firsthand could make a huge difference for students deciding where to go."

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