GW expects fewer high school students to apply after Common App switch

Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

The University's wait list has tripled in size over the last decade.

University officials are bracing for a nearly 4,000 applications drop in undergraduate applications this year, the first decline in nearly a decade that will likely be mirrored nationwide.

GW’s enrollment manager, Laurie Koehler, said the University will take in fewer applications – taking a bite out of its critical selectivity measure – because prospective students must now pay the $75 fee for the Common Application before schools can begin reviewing applications. In past years, admissions representatives sometimes went ahead and made decisions without the fee.

That decline will likely lead to a smaller, but more serious, pool of applicants, Koehler said. With more committed applicants, she added that more accepted students could decide to enroll – pushing up the University’s 33 percent yield rate.

Universities around the country will likely see declines, at least early on because the new application requires more from students, said Scott Anderson, the Common Application’s senior policy director. He said he did not know whether that would mean colleges would see application dips overall.

The company warned its 517 member colleges last month that they could see a drop because the application process “requires more from students” than in previous years by requiring the fee hand in hand with the application.

Koehler, the University’s senior associate provost for enrollment management, said the University’s admit rate, which has also hovered at 33 percent for the last three years, will likely take a hit. But Koehler said she isn’t concerned, and has said it will now be difficult to compare historical data.

“For me, selectivity is what people talk about, it’s not the measure of a class,” Koehler said. “The way that an institution is measured is by the substance of what is offered at the institution.”

For the first time this year, GW will rely solely on the Common Application after nixing its own supplement to the application. Admissions officers read about 22,000 applications each year.

The Common Application has also come under scrutiny this month after applicants reported technical glitches that forced dozens of colleges, including GW, to push back its early decision deadline by 10 days. The University’s Early Decision 1 deadline is Nov. 11.

After hiring Koehler to oversee the admissions and financial aid processes this year, GW has sought more data to help predict and manage its incoming class. It has also pledged more transparency in its admissions process after The Hatchet reported this month that officials had misrepresented the University as need-blind.

The University has hired an outside firm to study GW’s application pool and make predictions to bring in the highest-quality freshman class.

Koehler said the firm, Human Capital Research Corporation, will help officials identify the “strength of our pool” and what groups of applicants are likely to enroll if offered admission.

This post was updated on Nov. 1 at 3:30 p.m. to reflect the following:

Correction appended
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Common Application fee for GW. Students must pay $75, not $60. The story also misidentified as the senior associate vice provost for enrollment management when she is actually the senior associate provost for enrollment management. The story was also updated to clarify comments by Scott Anderson.

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