President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and admissions officials seriously erred last year when they accepted too many freshmen and got 300 more students than they were prepared to take. But it seems they could be on their way to making sure it doesn’t happen again. The first positive sign: more accepted early decision candidates.
GW has accepted more students in the early decision process than past years. This time, GW took 540 first-round early decision applicants, an increase of 140 incoming freshman from the 2001-02 admissions cycle.
Associate Dean of Students Jan-Mitchell Sherrill says the University could avoid a housing shortage if it sticks to its preconceived cap of 2,250 for the incoming class of 2006. The acceptance of more applicants earlier in the admissions process allows GW to decrease its acceptance rate during the regular application timetable. Placing downward pressure on last year’s acceptance rate of 48.5 percent increases GW’s selectivity. A more selective school usually yields a smarter student body and higher national rankings.
Although the University takes the contradictory stance of castigating the rankings during unfavorable years and distributing buttons proudly displaying GW’s reemergence into the first-tier of schools in good years, keeping admissions to a 2,250 quota for 2002-03 could help GW’s reputation no matter what officials say about it.
Instead of over-enrolling, GW should resort to using its wait list, which has been underutilized in past years.
A private institution should take pride in knowing that it is in demand. GW has exceeded its previous year’s total of applications for the past six years. This year, the University has received 2,000 more applications than last year. Just because more students are applying doesn’t mean GW has to take them. The waitlist brings with it enormous flexibility, allowing for a more controlled growth of the student body.
GW’s current infrastructure is in need of fewer students. Whether the issue is housing space or class size or food service availability, a much-needed hiatus from explosive growth would be prudent, at least until some of the more ambitious on-campus construction projects come online.
We are not diametrically opposed to growth; let’s just do it at a nicer pace, a pace which allows GW to climb the rankings and expand simultaneously.