Large freshman class raises concerns

GW administrators are spending the summer preparing to accommodate the largest freshman class in recent years.

Not only will they have to offer additional housing, GW officials said they will pay special attention to class sizes.

GW’s Office of Academic Affairs will monitor freshman registration during Colonial Inauguration to determine which courses require additional class sections, said Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for academic planning and special projects.

Linebaugh said class sizes will not adversely effect the learning environment, as long as professors do not exceed the cap. He said professors often sign extra students into their classes and then students complain about having large classes.

Linebaugh said the freshman class is academically stronger than previous classes and the higher quality students should make slightly larger classes less of a problem.

Innovations in class procedures will help professors address more students at one time, Linebaugh said. He cited Prometheus, a virtual on-line classroom, as a means of accessibility.

But Lonnie Giamela, a former Student Association vice president for academic affairs, said the larger class sizes will hurt the University’s faculty to student ratio.

“The biggest concern is that GW prides itself on its faculty-student relations,” Giamela said. “That’s erased by adding students. You just become a number instead of a name.”

Giamela said he thinks the University understands student concerns about class size but was probably caught off-guard by the larger number of freshmen coming to GW this fall.

Michael O’Leary, senior associate director of admissions, said one of the principal reasons the freshman class is larger than usual is because more students accepted GW’s offers of admission. He said the University is prepared for more students, especially with a significant number of people taking advantage of space at the Mount Vernon campus.

“The University has the resources to respond to freshman needs,” O’Leary said.

GW had a record number of applications and admitted less than half of the applicants but still acquired a large freshman class, he said. This popularity speaks highly of GW, O’Leary said. Linebaugh agreed and said the freshman class is reflective of GW’s growing success.

“In spite of a larger number of freshmen, their credentials continue to be strong,” he said. “The students are every bit as qualified as students who entered smaller classes.”

-Matt Berger contributed to this report.

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