Sunday, January 24, 2010

GW Admissions During the Great Recession

In harsh economic times, the announcement that GW has seen a record number of applications sent in is puzzling news. Common logic would say that everyone - middle and upper class families - would be less interested in attending a university with a total price tag of over $55,000 a year. And that number is almost guaranteed to increase a few thousand dollars for the class of 2014. Maybe the reputation of GW, or our school's prime real estate attracts more high school seniors, but I have honestly have no idea.

However, some might think that the numbers could be deceiving. More students apply to George Washington, but come April, they choose to attend other, less expensive schools. My class, the class of 2013, would beg to differ. I am sure over-enrollment was not discussed too much a year ago, but the situation became reality. With a student total of almost 10,000, the range per freshman class is consistently between 2,300 and 2,400. The Hatchet highlighted the issue of being more selective because of more applicants:

The "magic number" for freshman enrollment in the class of 2014 is 2,350, Chernak said. That means 8 percent fewer students must enroll at GW than last year - when an unexpected 2,550 freshmen submitted deposits, a yield that was bolstered by an unusually light "summer melt."

Even a recession didn't stop this year's freshman from wanting to study in the nation's capital. It went as far as to threaten D.C. zoning requirements limiting the number of students on the Foggy Bottom campus this fall. Another 60 students and the school would have had serious problems. The increased interest in GW may be good for the school's academic reputation. More student applying and a consistent or decreasing number of those enrolling means a lower acceptance rate. Lowering the acceptance rate to Georgetown or Ivy standards will put our school on the level of many schools considered better than GW. While I feel bad for the many good students wanting to attend a great school in a great location who will not get the opportunity, I cannot denounce the decision to keep the size of the classes as bad for the school, the current students, or the community. Now if we can get less people wanting to go to Georgetown and instead come here, I'd be even happier.

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