Short on school counselor guidance due to budget cuts, Philadelphia public school students can learn about the college application process and financial aid from the University of Pennsylvania at a day-long program on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Called "Ivy in Your Backyard," the program will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Irvine Auditorium, 3401 Spruce St., and offer students guidance on the college search process, including writing support.

"We feel this event ... is even more critical given the cuts in the Philadelphia school system, as Penn can serve as a local resource to families," said Eric Furda, dean of admissions at the Ivy League university. "As an example, the writing circles will be run by students/faculty of Kelly Writers House to help students think about their college essays. Student Financial Services (SFS) will walk through the completion of financial aid forms.

"Of course we are also highlighting Penn as the 'Ivy in Your Backyard', but this is primarily a counseling opportunity to help local students and families to apply to and attend college."

Also for the first time, all of Penn's 25 admission officers, who have responsibility for jurisdictions all over the country and the world, have been asked to help in Philadelphia as well, Furda said. Penn enrolls 130 students a year from Philadelphia for a freshman class of 2,420, Furda said.

"We want all of our admissions officers to have a sense of the students in their backyard," he said.

Furda last week visited Central High School, one of the school district's top magnet schools which sends a good number of students onto Penn. He met with the counselor, students and the principal.

"Even in one of the more supported schools, the cuts to college advisors and other services will no doubt have an impact," Furda said. "The students, however, are working hard and focusing on the next step in their education. They are an inspiration."

Next week, he will visit Masterman, another top academic magnet school, which is down to one counselor for its 1,200 students.

While Penn routinely holds programs to help students with the applications process, this event has been beefed up in light of the budget crisis in the district, he said.

"Because of the drastic measures, we felt this event was going to be more important," he said.

The program is open to up to 400 students. To register, go to: