Grad schools lure fewer applicants

Applications to GW graduate schools are down 18 percent from last year, but administrators said they are optimistic numbers will increase and ward off University-wide budget cuts.

Sigelman said the University has received 6,605 applications to its graduate schools as of April 10, a drop of more than 1,100 from last year’s 7,770 applications. GW hopes to admit 1,609 graduate students, not including the medical and law schools or other campuses, she said.

Though the applicant pool is smaller than last year’s, it also may be stronger, said Iva Beatty, director of graduate student services for the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences.

The Columbian School still hopes to reach its admissions goals – both in quantity and quality – by accepting a higher percentage of applicants, Beatty said.

A lower number of local and international student applications contributed to this year’s decline, said Carol Sigelman, associate vice president for research and graduate studies.

She said the recent financial crisis in the Pacific Rim nations deterred Asian students – who account for a significant portion of GW’s foreign population – from applying to the University.

Competitive graduate programs at other area universities also may reduce the number of students who apply to GW, Sigelman said.

Additionally, the thriving economy could account for the drooping application rate, Beatty said. She said applications to graduate schools often lag when the job market is strong.

Administrators said they remain hopeful because the University sets no specific deadline for graduate admissions.

Donald Lehman, GW’s vice president for academic affairs, said prospective graduate students are just beginning to reply and make deposits to accept fall admission to the University.

The admissions office sets no official cut-off date for applications, but by the end of August, it generally can establish full graduate enrollment, said Christopher Sterling, associate dean for graduate studies in CSAS.

“It’s just too early to know the extent of enrollment,” Lehman said.

Speculation on enrollment may be premature, but Sigelman said the University’s academic budget will be cut if the projected number of students do not attend GW.

She said a similar drop in 1996 caused widespread cuts throughout the University.

But graduate admission is not the only factor that influences the budget. Undergraduate admissions must also be taken into account, Sigelman said.

With a week left before May 1, the national deadline for incoming freshmen to reply to colleges, 722 applicants have accepted GW’s invitation to attend in the fall, said Michael O’Leary, senior associate director of undergraduate admissions.

GW registered 1,723 entering freshmen for the 1997-’98 academic year. Registration for the 1998-’99 academic year will rise during the next week because students often wait until the last days before the deadline to make a decision, said Director of Undergraduate Admissions Kathryn Napper.

This year, the undergraduate admissions office accepted 6,186 (48.7 percent) applicants to the class of 2002, O’Leary said.

O’Leary said he expects 1,700 freshmen will attend GW in the fall. He said that estimates reflect the growing number of students attending the University’s spring visit sessions. A record-breaking 500 accepted students made reservations for the second visit April 19, O’Leary said.

About 150 women also are expected to attend GW’s Mount Vernon campus next semester, O’Leary said.

GW took financial control of MVC in October 1996 and the all-women’s college will be fully integrated into the University by June 1999.

President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said he has high but reasonable expectations for the incoming classes at both campuses.

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