Early decision applications rise

Despite widespread economic uncertainty, the University has seen a major increase in early decision applications and pushed back the deadline for Early Decision I to attract even more prospective students to apply early, administrators said this week.

The University will accept early decision applications for an additional two weeks to give high schoolers more time to learn about the University’s financial policies, including a fixed-tuition plan and bolstered financial aid resources. GW has already seen a 30 percent increase in Early Decision I applications compared to last year, said Kathryn Napper, executive dean for undergraduate admissions.

More than 1,200 applicants have committed to attend GW if admitted – compared to 946 in 2007 and 1,009 in 2006 – even without knowing what their financial aid package will be amid the nation’s volatile economic situation.

“As some students are taking more time to consider the benefits of early decision versus any perceived financial implications, we wanted to give students, where GW is a first choice, more time to apply” for early decision, Napper said.

The deadline for Early Decision I applications is still listed on the undergraduate admissions Web site as the original date of Nov. 10, but applications will now be accepted until Nov. 27, Napper said.

She said she hopes that the extension will give students and their families more time to weigh their financial options.

“As you can imagine, students applying this year are more concerned about the country’s financial situation and how the current economic conditions will affect their college choice,” she said.

Recently released statistics from admissions offices at New York University and Georgetown also reflect increases in the number of early decision applicants, but on a much smaller scale. Georgetown and NYU both had a 2 percent increase in their early decision pools.

David Wheeler, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, said the increase could be attributed to higher selectivity among top tier schools and a record number of high school students applying to college.

“The college-age population is really peaking,” he said. “And this sense of competitiveness among high school graduates is peaking as well.”

Wheeler, whose daughter is a senior in high school, said even in today’s tough economy, parents will make sure their children can go to the best college possible.

“You have to understand that for parents, education for their kid is the highest financial priority,” Wheeler said. “They may give up eating out, but they will still find money for an SAT prep course or college tuition because it’s their most important investment.”

GW Regional Director of Admissions Danielle Togila, who coordinates recruitment efforts in northern New Jersey, said she has witnessed the growing interest in the University first-hand.

“My traffic is definitely up this year,” said Togila, who travels to about 130 high schools to meet with students who are considering GW. “It’s an exciting time.”

Through the Counselor Connection program, 39 high school counselors – including four from international institutions – traveled to the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses last weekend to gain a “perspective on the entire University,” Togila said.

“It gives us an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to the market,” Togila said. “We really had an excellent group. It was very well-attended.”

After a dip in early decision applications last year, the increase in applications is welcome news for the admissions office.

“The current number of applications for this fall indicates that we are returning to the levels of Fall 2006,” Napper said. “I am very pleased by these numbers and look forward to reading the applications of these students.”

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