School image draws in class of 2014

GW had a record-breaking year in admissions, receiving 3 percent more applications than ever before despite having one of the nation’s highest tuitions, and some students from the class of 2014 said the school’s image, campus and academic offerings made it a viable choice despite an economic downturn.

After a 3 percent increase in undergraduate admissions applications that marks the highest number ever for the University, a number of rising freshman students said the University’s offerings and reputation played a big role in their admissions decision.

Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said the University’s image has improved, resulting in this year’s strong application numbers.

“Comments received from high school guidance counselors and teachers seem to confirm that GW right now is a ‘hot’ school,” Chernak said in an e-mail. “As you know, GW has already reached an all-time high for applications for admission. We anticipate this year exceeding 21,000 applications for an entering freshman class planned at 2,350.”

Like some high school seniors considering GW, Max Schwager, from Kingston, Penn., said he thought GW would not provide a “traditional college experience,” but said he was pleasantly surprised after his first campus visit.

“When people think of city schools, they think ‘oh you don’t get the campus feel, or you don’t feel like you’re really at college,’ ” Schwager said. “I don’t think that happens at GW, there’s no lack of knowledge that you’re on GW’s campus and that really stood out to me.”

Schwager said the school’s academic offerings weighed heavily on his decision to apply early decision to GW, where he was accepted as a declared political communication major in the School of Media and Public Affairs.

“The political communication program was exactly what I was looking for, but I didn’t know it existed,” Schwager said. “It just adds to why GW is the school I want to go to.”

While GW’s campus and academic programs appealed to Linda Cui from Raleigh, N.C., who also applied and was accepted early decision, it was name recognition that sealed the deal.

“I like that I’m not going to a small school in the middle of nowhere,” Cui said. “It’s a prestigious University and if you tell people you’re going there, they will know, and I like that.”

Despite high enthusiasm, Chernak said the incoming students and parents who he met are equally concerned with the University’s affordability.

“Interestingly, many applicants and their families have become much more aware of GW’s fixed tuition plan and guaranteed student aid policy which, in these uncertain economic times, seems like a real plus for our recruitment efforts,” Chernak said. “In many cases, they have indicated a need to weigh student aid options among the schools they have applied to.”

Schwager agreed that name recognition and academics don’t outweigh the looming costs of one of the most expensive universities in the country.

“I think its reputation is that it’s a very good school but some of its key factors could be a turn-off for some people,” Schwager said. “The fact that it is one of the most expensive schools in the country and with the economy like it is right now, that’s something that is keeping some of my friends from considering GW.”

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