GW continues to see an increase in prospective student interest, as the University received close to 11,000 applications for next year as of the end of November, admissions officials said last week. Early Decision I applications have also increased – the University had received about 100 more applications this year than last year about a week prior to the Dec. 1 deadline.
Applications have been on the rise for the last nine years, and Admissions Director Kathryn Napper said she is optimistic that applications will eclipse last year’s 16,910 mark. As of Dec. 6 last year, 10,200 applications had been received, according to a December 2001 Hatchet article.
“The students’ experience here is not something you can get at many other schools,” Napper said. “Our students are just nice and interesting. They just like what we have to offer.”
Officials said they attribute the rise in early decision applications from 500 to 600 to a growing national trend of more high school students choosing the option and to the fact that GW is becoming many students’ first choice.
The University plans to enroll a freshman class of 2,250, the same number of students as last year, despite a possible increase in applications. Officials said they would like GW to lower its admissions rate below 40 percent this year. GW accepted a little more than 40 percent of applicants last year, an eight percent decrease from 2001.
GW usually receives the most applications from New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Napper said GW sent representatives to all 50 states and is trying to recruit more from the Midwest and South this year because those regions are often “underrepresented.”
But she said getting students from all states is not a priority.
GW consistently receives a high number of students every year from Cherry Hill East High School in New Jersey.
This year, Cherry Hill officials mailed 15 applications, two of which were Early Decision I, said Tony Mancini, a guidance counselor at the high school. He said he expects to submit about six more by the time the Jan. 15 deadline rolls around.
“Our kids are very sophisticated,” Mancini said. “They want the majors (GW) offers, like political science and journalism. You also have great name recognition here. We have half a dozen kids there every year who are doing well and enjoying it.”
Officials said the potential trimester system is another factor that may attract students in the future. University President Steven Joel Trachtenberg recently called for a committee to examine a three-semester calendar to replace the current two-semester system in order to use campus facilities more “efficiently.”
Vice President for Student Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said the system could “prove to be very positive” for interest in the University.
“I do not want to prejudge what the committee’s findings might be in May but, on the surface, the full three-semester plan would very likely afford GW students much more flexibility in housing assignments, study abroad, internships, course selection, cost containment, etc.,” Chernak said.
The number of visitors to campus rose to nearly 25,000 this year, a five to 10 percent increase from last year, according to Admissions Office figures.
“What has changed is the time of year in which prospective students visit,” Napper said. “We’re seeing a gradual shift from the fall of the senior year to the spring of the junior year and even earlier.”
Along with visiting campuses earlier, Napper said students have been taking standardized tests earlier and more often than in the past.
Despite heightened interest in early options at GW and around the country, two of the nation’s most elite schools, Yale and Stanford universities, have elected to cut their early decision programs for the 2004-2005 school year. The schools cite the pressure these binding programs place on applicants, according to a Nov. 22 Chronicle of Higher Education report.
“I do not subscribe to (the) viewpoint (that it places too much pressure),” Chernak said. “Many high school students, who know most definitely where they might want to attend school if accepted, appreciate the early notification of their acceptance.”
Chernak also said he does not foresee the cutting the option becoming a national trend.
“These pedigree institutions are going to be successful for the most part (in) attracting the students they want to accept,” he said.
Chernak and Napper both said GW has no intentions of changing its early decision policies.
Sixty percent of this year’s freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating classes, and Napper said she expects the 2002-2003 applicant pool to be as competitive, if not more, than last
However, this year’s numbers will not be available until decisions are finalized this spring.
“We hope that we continue to attract an academically stronger applicant pool,” said Napper. “Recent trends would indicate that we would; however, my crystal ball doesn’t allow me to predict the future.
-Robyn Keyster contributed to this report.