Student diversity stands out in a stagnant admissions cycle

School officials are reporting that the incoming freshman class is one of the most ethnically diverse ever, in a year when the University failed to become more selective.

Multicultural students make up about 34 percent of the class of 2012, a six percent increase from last year. Along with growing geographic diversity, it was the most notable statistic in an admissions cycle otherwise similar to past years.

GW received about 19,500 applications this winter, a number that has remained relatively stagnant since 2005 – following a decade of exponential growth. They accepted 37 percent of these students, a rate that has also wavered only slightly since three years ago.

“At most colleges, selectivity rates are not going to go way up or way down over a short period of time,” said Eric Hoover, an admissions reporter for the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Hoover said that the acceptance rate could vary by a couple of points in order for a University to meet its enrollment goals, especially if administrators are worried about filling their classes.

“It’s important to think of selectivity not only as something that ‘happens’ to a college, but also as something that results from decisions admissions officials make,” Hoover said. He noted, however, that many exclusive colleges saw acceptance rates plummet after receiving considerably more applications.

Kathy Napper, dean of undergraduate admissions, said the increased diversity was the product of a recent push by the recruitment staff at the admissions office for more minority students. The University also held recruitment activities targeted toward multicultural students, including two on-campus open houses and events for visiting minorities planned by

student organizations.

Administrators also said in April that they hoped the addition of $6 million in need-based financial aid would help diversify the student body.

The incoming class is also increasingly geographically diverse. Napper said the freshmen come from more than 1,300 high schools in 48 states and 48 foreign countries. The only two states without representation are North Dakota and Wyoming.

Though GW still draws heavily from New York and New Jersey, the students of the class of 2010 are from all over the map. New Englanders make up 18 percent of the class, 38 percent of incoming students are from the mid-Atlantic area, 14 percent of students are from the South, another 8 percent are from the Midwestern region and around 12 percent of students are from the Western and Rocky states. Nine percent of the incoming freshmen are from the U.S. territories and abroad, which is an increase from last year.

“We visit approximately 45 of the 50 states,” Napper said in an e-mail. “In addition, we visit Puerto Rico and somewhere between 10-15 countries.”

Additionally, Napper described the GW applicant pool as “academically strong and dynamic.” Nearly 67 percent of incoming freshman were in the top 10 percent of their high schools, and the average SAT score is 1935.

Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said the yield – meaning the number of students who accepted their offers from GW – was about what they had anticipated.

“Current deposits are just about where we expect them to be at this time in the admission cycle,” Chernak said.

Eric Roper contributed to this report.

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