University touts quantity, quality in new class

This year’s incoming class has more students, higher SAT scores and better class ranks, administrators said this week, calling the improvements indicative of the University’s growing appeal to high school students.

Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said an increase in the median SAT score and class rank for the incoming class signals that GW is faring well, despite being one of the most expensive schools in the country in an economic downturn.

“We saw an increase in numbers and improvement of quality, and when those two things are in alignment it’s very healthy,” Chernak said. “I think our admissions office did a really good job in some very challenging times.”

Chernak also attributed the increase in yield rate – the number of accepted students who enroll at the University – to aggressive measures taken by the Board of Trustees late last spring, which added $10 million to the undergraduate financial aid allocation.

“Given the present economic conditions, the number of students enrolling this year shows the strength of The George Washington University in the marketplace,” Executive Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Kathryn Napper said in an e-mail.

While GW prepares for a bigger freshman class, nearby schools like Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland are using waitlisted students to fill spots vacated by a larger than expected “summer melt,” which is the loss of students who were accepted and made a deposit. A recent Washington Post article said Virginia Tech has already pulled 309 students from its waitlist.

Napper said a similar waitlist for the class of 2013 was established in the spring, but was dismissed early in the summer.

“We did offer a waitlist option to some applicants back in the spring; however, given the number of deposits received, we let those students know earlier this summer that we could not offer them space in the class,” Napper said in an e-mail.

In addition to dropping the waitlist, the University reduced the number of transfer students admitted to GW to allow for a larger freshman class.

“We cut back a little bit on our transfer admits to make up for some of the freshmen. We admitted much less,” Chernak said. “This year we admitted 440 and we reduced the number of transfers to roughly 220.”

GW officials have much spent the summer focusing on meeting the academic and housing needs of a larger incoming class, Chernak added.

Caitlin Huntley, the University’s director of academic scheduling, said her office has been receiving requests to add additional sections to classes throughout the summer.

“We provided each of the affected schools with a list of times when rooms were available,” Huntley said in an e-mail. “Afternoons between 12:45 and 2 p.m. were booked solid (and have been since the schedule posted last spring), but there was room throughout the week to add sections before noon.”

Chernak said the University expects every student to have a bed and full class schedule when the fall term begins.

“They might not have that perfect schedule and may not be in all the classes they preferred but it seems that at this stage of the game that most people have been able to find sufficient class space to fill up their schedules,” Chernak said. “Fortunately, this year in terms of classes and housing it worked out.”

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