Foreign apps rise 20 percent in two years

Despite uncertainty in the world economy, the number of international applicants at GW continues to grow, increasing 4 percent since last fall, the Office of Admissions reported this week.

The fall 2009 semester marks the second consecutive year that the number of international applicants has increased, an overall rise of 20 percent over the past two years.

International student enrollment sharply declined from 1998 to 2001, but since then the number of foreign students has increased steadily, according to statistics from the GW Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

Kathryn Napper, executive dean for undergraduate admissions, said that GW received nearly 2,100 international student applications this year and she attributed the rise to GW’s international reputation.

“Our applications have continued to grow internationally, primarily because of the reputation of GW and the outreach and relationships being developed from a number of arenas – i.e. academic, alumni, admissions – at the University,” Napper wrote in an e-mail.

Some international students currently enrolled at GW said in interviews that it was the lure of D.C. that brought them to GW.

Senior Will Nomikos, who was born in Greece and raised in Sweden, noted GW’s close ties with the nation’s capital as a major factor when he was applying to college.

“I came to the U.S. for the first time when I was 12, but I knew about Washington, D.C., since as long as I can remember,” he said. “GW just seemed to me so inextricably linked to Washington and that was my picture of the U.S. growing up and that had a huge attraction to me.”

Simon Hernandez, a junior originally from Mexico, was also drawn to GW’s location, which he said affords students unique academic and professional experiences.

“I picked the school based on the fact that it was in D.C.,” Hernandez said. “It was the best place I could get opportunities, internships and very practical education – which has all turned out to be true.”

Nomikos also considers the character of the GW student body to be an attractive aspect of the school to international students.

“I would definitely encourage international students to apply to GW simply because I know that the student body is so diverse,” Nomikos said.

To reach out to the international applicant pool, GW admissions representatives visit high schools, college fairs and receptions abroad each year.

This past year, the admissions staff traveled to 13 different countries to speak with prospective students. Beyond the travels of the admissions staff, Napper said international students have been the best resource for attracting other potential students abroad.

“Our students who graduate from GW are our best ambassadors in talking with prospective students from their country,” she wrote. “Our graduates are quite happy with their experiences and education here, and take that information back to their country.”

The 2,100 international students come from more than 100 different countries, according to the International Services Office Web site.

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