Students, officials rise to admissions test

Getting into GW was harder for the class of 2006 than any class in GW history. Incoming freshmen have the highest SAT score average on school record, while the University also accepted the smallest percentage of applicants ever.

GW officials said this admissions year was also one of their most challenging and successful as the school received more than 17,000 applications, a 6 percent increase from last year and accepted 40.5 percent of students, down from last year’s 48.5 percent.

Administrators said they were bound by housing requirements after 300 more freshmen than expected accepted offers last year, forcing the University to lease two buildings, increase housing capacity in two residence halls and house students temporarily in area hotels last August.

Admissions Director Kathryn Napper said this admissions year was one of the most difficult in her five years overseeing the process.

“The fact that we did not have the luxury of going over class size, and with environmental factors like the economy and September 11 being unknown, it was one of my most challenging,” she said.

GW officials said they intend to enroll a class of 2,250 freshmen, based on housing and facility constraints. The school has already received 2,365 deposits. Napper said GW is “in the ballpark,” noting that 100 to 150 students usually defer admission or go to other universities, in what she called the “summer melt.”

Officials said the yield rate, or the number of students accepting admission, also stabilized this year after jumping almost 7 percent last year. About 34 percent of accepted applicants sent deposits, about the same as last year, Napper said.

Officials are skeptical whether the 40.5 percent admissions rate will help bring GW into U.S. News and World Report’s top 50 schools, because it accounts for one to two percent of the school’s overall rating.

GW ranked 46 in 1998 but has been listed as a tier-two school for the past three years.

Vice President of Student and Academic Support Services Bob Chernak said University officials met with magazine editors this past year who said the school was within two spots of the top 50, even though schools in the tier two category (numbers 51-100) are not ranked numerically. He said “only a couple of things have to change” to move up.

“I don’t think a single statistic will make a dramatic change . the truth of the matter is we are right on target to move up,” he said. “Our decision-making is not driven by U.S. News and World Report.”

Chernak said GW has become an easier sell, allowing the school to accept fewer students this year, and noted that GW had a more difficult time attracting students a decade ago.

“The University has more qualitative assets in terms of facilities, better faculty and our reputation,” Chernak said. “It was much harder in the late 80’s and early 90’s.”

Chernak cited the 1988 admissions year, when GW received 5,900 applications and accepted more than 80 percent of interested students.

“As we build a new business school, Greek housing, a new residence hall with a whole new food court, admissions will get easier,” he said.

He also said GW has attracted better and more diverse students, with 49 states represented in this year’s class.

Three incoming freshmen hail from North Dakota, which has gone two years with out representation at GW, but no students will be making their way from Mississippi this year, Chernak said.

The SAT average of this years’ freshmen is a 1270, up 30 points from last year and 61 percent of freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes, 13 percent more than the last entering class.

“In terms of statistical profile, they are the best we have seen,” Chernak said. “When you end up being more selective, with accepting 900 fewer people, you are going to have a better probability of getting better students.”

Napper and Chernak also said GW is looking to increase student diversity by reaching out to high school students across the country.

“We will be sending representatives to every state in the union next year . we do want to see more diversity,” Napper said.

Currently, students from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut account for almost 60 percent of the student body.

“We need to broaden our base of appeal nationally . we need to expand our outreach beyond those primary areas,” Chernak said.

Napper noted that GW saw 115 more applications and 25 more deposits from students in the Chicago area after the addition of an admissions director in that city.

Chernak said the school also needs to be wary of rejecting too many students from primary feeder states like New York and New Jersey.

“The more people you reject who would have traditionally been accepted will have a negative impact on application-flow for the next year,” he said.

Chernak said he is proud to see the school constantly improving and hopes to bring the admissions rate under 40 percent next year.

“Ideally it would be nice to get under 40, but it all depends on the variables next year,” he said.

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