George Mason Law School

Staff Editorial: Admit rate disappoints

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April 11, 2008

9:55 AM

The latest admissions statistics are in, and while the College has performed admirably in some areas, it has yet to improve in others. Our admissions statistics show that we have the potential for one of the most diverse and talented classes in the College’s history, but despite that, we’re failing to move forward in other areas.

The Class of 2011 could become the College’s most racially diverse entering class ever. The data show that students of color make up some 1,200 of the 3,800 accepted, a statistic that shows the College has taken significant steps in the right direction. But when viewed alongside the rest of the data, that accomplishment fails to
make this a sensational round of admissions.

After a period of growing selectivity, acceptance rates have hit a plateau around 33 percent, and SAT scores have fared no better. The 50th and 75th percentiles continue to fall between the low 1300s and middle 1400s. Metrics like that certainly place us in the uppermost echelons of American higher education, but at these levels the competition is fiercest. Swings of a few percent can turn a record year into a disappointment. In this regard, the College has neither fallen back nor advanced — we have entered a holding pattern.

This year’s 7 percent jump in applications places us ahead of many peer schools and should give cause for excitement, however. More students applied last fall than ever before. Intuitively, a larger applicant pool should allow higher selectivity. But selectivity — the admit rate — remained static. By anticipating that fewer students will matriculate in the fall, the admissions staff bet against the College. In essence, they’re not expecting as many high schoolers to find the College as attractive as their other options.

For years, the College has prided itself on its ability to provide an Ivy League education at a public school price. As more schools introduce financial aid programs for upper-middle-class families, our meager endowment leaves us struggling to compete. Wealthier schools can afford to support more financially able groups that the College simply does not possess the means to help.

It’s all the more reason to focus on building our funds for the future — funds that would bolster financial aid and make us more attractive to potential applicants.

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