Staff editorial: Getting there

The latest admissions figures for next year are a cause for mixed reviews. On one hand, University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and admissions officials are to be commended for yet another step toward making GW the elite institution it should be by lowering the acceptance rate roughly 10 percent to 39 percent. It is a feat that only a handful of universities in the country, including many in the U.S. News and World Report’s top 50, cannot claim. But GW is once again faced with a problem in which its rising popularity could cause more over-enrollment woes.

A 39 percent acceptance rate puts GW in line with Emory University and the University of Virginia and far ahead of Top 50 schools like Tulane University and the University of Washington, which both posted higher than 70 percent acceptance rates last year. While rival Georgetown University accepted 19.4 percent of applicants this year, GU also received 1,500 fewer applicants than GW.

But beyond the call for celebration is one for alarm, as GW officials again seem to erring on the side of over-enrollment, something this stretched campus cannot handle another year of. GW officials say they want a freshman class of 2,250 students. So considering the 6,645 students already accepted, they expect about a third accepted students to enroll. That would be the same yield that GW had this year, when applications were considerably fewer, but GW officials insist it is a “conservative” estimate. Considering national trends of higher enrollments, GW’s recent history and the record 17,000 applications this admissions cycle, we suggest that the University begin preparing for yet another year of “unexpected” growth.

An unexpected surge in the yield last year drove enrollment through the roof, forced GW to acquire and rent two buildings off campus for housing and hurriedly recruit teachers to fill classrooms, among other inconveniences. It seems GW is heading toward a repeat performance.

Community Living and Learning Center officials have already said that 2,250 is the maximum number of freshmen GW housing can hold. GW should be up front sooner rather than later about what the University will do if hundreds more than “expected” come to GW for a second year in a row.

We are happy to see that GW used larger waiting lists this year and urge officials to be cautious about accepting any more students.

GW is doubtlessly on the path to greater things. Whether the University will be faced with yet another crunch is largely in the hands of accepted students.

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