Students applying to more colleges

Interest in colleges nationwide is prompting high school students to send out more applications, likely boosting the University’s selectivity.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling reported that 25 percent of college applicants submitted seven or more applications, up from 23 percent the year before, marking a decade-long national pattern of high school students applying to more colleges.

The report also found that 73 percent of universities saw an increase in applications for fall 2010. The University followed this trend, receiving 21,400 applications last fall – a slight 1-percent increase from the year before.

Kathryn Napper, associate vice president and dean of undergraduate admissions, said the strongest impact of increasing applications came years ago for the most selective universities. She added that it continues to be a contributing factor at GW.

“Students are applying to more schools. That’s helped, too,” she said, although “this is nothing new” for institutions in GW’s market basket.

Applicants to GW commonly apply to between seven and nine schools, although the uptick in applications is one factor in the University’s increasing selectivity, she said. Public high school students apply to an average of 4.2 colleges, while the average for private high school students is 5.9 colleges, the study found.

“I think generally having a good, wide diversity of applicants is something that we value at GW,” Dean of Students Peter Konwerski said.

Last year, the admittance rate rose slightly to 32.5 percent of applications.

“Generally, continuing application increases have driven many institutions’ acceptance rates lower each year,” David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said.

Many factors contributed to the national application increase, including the ease of applying through the Common Application and the lack of direction from high school counselors, Hawkins said.

The study found that increased applications have led to 48 percent of universities utilizing wait lists in fall 2010, up from 39 percent the year before.

“The wait list has become a tool to moderate what you are doing with the class, so that you are not over-enrolling or over-admitting,” Napper said.

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