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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Drop in high school grad rate may hurt GW

Fewer students are expected to graduate from high schools in top feeder states over the next decade, potentially stemming the number of applications the University receives.

New York, which drew the highest volume of undergraduate applicants last year, is projected to see about 8 percent fewer public high school graduates in the next five years. New Jersey will dip 4 percent. By 2019, New York is expected to see 30,000 fewer students graduate – a decrease of over 17 percent from its last reported graduation figures in 2007, according to a Department of Education report.

Overall high school graduates are projected to decrease until 2015, spike up slightly then continue to decline through 2019.

The change comes in part as the children of the baby boomer generation – born between 1982 and 1995 – grow up, according to economist William Hussar, who works at the National Center for Education Statistics and helped prepare a recent report by the Department of Education.

“The main thing that has been driving our enrollment projections for the past 15 years or so is something called the baby boom echo,” Hussar said. “Basically, the children of the baby boom were having children. And that force is just about out.”

Executive Dean for Undergraduate Admissions Kathryn Napper said the change in volume of high school graduates could affect admissions numbers over time, but she isn’t worried about a steep decline.

“The number of students graduating from high school was on an upward trajectory. This trend has begun to level off,” Napper said. “There might be some states that we normally rely heavily on, like New York, that might see a slight decline in the number of students graduating from high school. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a decline in the number of kids going to college, but you have to take that into consideration.”

Regardless of changes in high school graduation rates in specific areas, Napper said the University is prepared for a dynamic application process.

“That’s the reason why we are always aggressively recruiting all over the world, because shifts happen,” Napper said, noting that changing economic times can also factor into application numbers.

The March Department of Education report projected less dramatic enrollment increases in post-secondary degree-granting institutions, which saw a 34-percent increase in enrollment between 1994 and 2008 but will see increases of only 17 percent from 2008 to 2019.

Minority students could see a spike in post-secondary enrollment numbers, with Hispanic student enrollment expected to increase by 45 percent, and black, Asian and Pacific Islander populations to see 30-percent increases over the next decade despite an overall slowdown, according to data in the report.

“The increase in minority enrollment rates can be attributed to several factors, though it’s not clear whether one takes precedence over another,” David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said.

Hawkins said minority population growth and academic achievement in grade school are among potential factors for the change.

“A third factor may be a cumulative effect of successive generations of minorities who have achieved academically and realized the economic benefits of higher education, and their children following in their footsteps,” Hawkins said. “However, much of the gains in minority enrollment have been at two-year colleges, so there is yet more to be done to improve access at four-year institutions.”

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