The University saw an 18.5 percent increase in Early Decision I applicants this year, the second year in a row GW has seen double-digit early decision applicant growth.
A record 1,725 high school seniors submitted ED I applications, up from 1,455 last year, Associate Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Kathryn Napper said.
“I am very pleased with the application numbers so far and that we continue to maintain a wide geographical area,” Napper said.
This year’s ED I applicant pool represents an 82 percent increase since 2007, and there is still another round of early decision applications due in January.
Robert Chernak, senior vice provost and senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said the increase in early decision applicants is likely due to students wanting to gain an advantage in the admissions process.
“As GW’s acceptance rate keeps decreasing (31.5 [percent] this past year) coupled with the ever-increasing interest in our school, high school seniors want to take advantage of every edge to gain admission,” Chernak said in an e-mail from the men’s basketball tournament in Philadelphia.
The growth in early decision applicants represents a nationwide trend of students applying to binding early decision programs, said Scott Jaschik, an editor at Inside Higher Ed, an online publication covering higher education. Schools like Northwestern University saw a 26 percent increase in early decision applicants, while the University of Pennsylvania saw a similar 18 percent increase, according to the New York Times.
“Lots of places are going up so it’s not surprising,” Jaschik said. “It is not an exceptional thing to have higher numbers.”
Jaschik, who was not familiar GW’s numbers, said some groups in higher education believe an increasing early decision rate is not beneficial to students.
“People who tend to apply early are more likely to be wealthy and go to a good high school,” he said. “Colleges then fill up classes with students that are less diverse.”
Napper could not provide more details about the quality of the applicant pool, as applications were due Nov. 10 and admissions officials have yet to read all of the applications. She added, however, that a second round of early decision applications are due Jan. 10, and that the overall number of freshman applications is already up from the same time last year.
“For total applications, we have already received nearly 9,000 freshman applications for the Class of 2015,” Napper said. “This number is about 5 percent ahead of where we were last year on [Nov. 15].”
The admissions committee will begin sorting through applications from the first cycle when faculty return from the Thanksgiving weekend.
“Reports from the directors indicate that they have met with many incredible students this fall and that GW remains highly regarded throughout all the regions that we visit,” Napper said.