The administration said they planned on enrolling 2,250 freshmen next year. It seemed they were finally attempting to bring some sort of normalcy to the admission figures and to the University, both of which have seen rapid over-expansion in the past few years. But then the bottom line came into play.
After “finalizing the budget,” administrators decided they would be better off enrolling 2,400 freshmen next year – the second largest class ever, surpassed only by the freshman class of 2001 with 2,578 students. The extra 150 students will bring in approximately an additional $6 million in tuition and housing fees, easing the tension on the strained budget.
This is a horrible precedent. GW should not use inflated class sizes to compensate for budget deficits and poor long-term planning. An extra 150 freshman will have a ripple effect on the rest of the University, putting more stress on housing facilities, academic quality, BZA restrictions and the community’s patience.
Instead of cutting costs like typical businesses, GW has chosen to expand, putting the burden on GW students who are paying increasingly exorbitant tuition prices for a declining proportion of the services. It makes little sense for the University to increase tuition at the same time as they admit record amounts of students – there will be about 10,000 undergraduates next year.
GW is increasingly gaining the reputation as an ever-expanding institution that refuses to settle down. The University is in upheaval each year as numerous changes jolt the campus. This chaotic feeling is not apparent to prospective students, however, as applications are at a record high at nearly 18,400, surpassing Georgetown by about 3,000 applications.
When will the insanity stop? When will GW decide it has expanded enough and can focus on internal upgrades, such as improved faculty and academic structure? It seems that day is far off. Even in the face of tough BZA requirements that the University has little chance of fulfilling even now, GW continues to accept even more freshman. The University needs to step back, take a breath and reevaluate its long-term plans.
Since GW physically cannot come into compliance with the BZA housing requirements, administrators may believe the extra students won’t make a difference. But while these 150 students may not matter in the context of zoning regulations, they will count as 150 extra people in line at J Street, choosing popular classes and packing residence halls.
Maybe the 150 students are needed simply to pay University lawyers for GW’s lawsuit to get the BZA restrictions lifted. No matter what, GW is backing itself into a corner by its continuous expansion and one begins to wonder if trimesters are the plan to fix this financial bind.