A cursory glance at the recently released U.S. News & World Report college rankings would suggest GW has taken a step back. In its yearly rankings of the top universities in the country, GW ranked 52 – along with Pepperdine and Syracuse – sliding one spot from last year. Given this slide is merely a result of a broken tie higher on the list, students should be skeptical of what this year’s ranking represents about the direction in which GW is heading.
By all accounts, GW is consciously working to improve itself. First, it is becoming an increasingly popular school, seeing a dramatic rise in applications over the past several years, climaxing in over 20,000 applications for this year’s freshmen class. With each new applicant class, average SAT scores are on the rise, selectivity improves and yield rates increase. All of these factors lead to an increasingly intelligent and well-rounded freshman class.
While each of these statistics improve, GW is in the process of a large expansion and restructuring of its academic program. As different elements of the Strategic Plan are implemented, new academic buildings are constructed and different majors are restructured, GW’s overall academic program will continue to improve.
In the end, there is little statistical difference in schools ranking in the mid 40s to the early 50s in the list. The switch to the new rankings structure – ranking the top 120 schools as opposed to the top 50 schools – has helped GW distinguish itself from other “second tier” institutions like American University in the ranking system. Students should be confident that GW is continuing to improve, despite its failure to rise in the U.S. News rankings.