CLAUDIA CHEN/THE HOYA The acceptance rate for the Class of 2021 dropped a full percentage point from last year.
The acceptance rate for the Class of 2021 dropped a full percentage point from last year.

Georgetown accepted a record-low 15.4 percent of students to the Class of 2021, an overall 3,313 out of 21,465 applicants.

The 15.4 percent acceptance rate marks a full point percentage drop from the rates of the last five years, which hovered between 16.4 percent and 16.6 percent.

Of the total accepted applicants, 931 were accepted in the early action cycle while 2,382 were accepted in the regular cycle.

The applicant pool this year also marked the largest pool in Georgetown’s history, topping the previous high of 20,111 applicants in 2012.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions sent out acceptance letters for the regular application cycle Friday.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon (CAS ’64, GRD ’69) attributed the increased applicant pool to the school’s focus on the individual student and a national spotlight on Washington, D.C., during the 2016 presidential election.

“We did not do anything different to increase the pool. In fact, we actively try not to increase it, because we really would like it to be representing people who really are interested and are willing to go through the extra effort,” Deacon said. “Even though we make it harder for people, the pool goes up, which is good. That partly is because the combination of Georgetown’s identity and the location together.”

Georgetown College, the School of Foreign Service and the School of Nursing and Health Studies all saw increased number of applications.

The College had a pool of 12,920 applicants, compared to 11,674 applicants last year with 1,883 applicants for an acceptance rate of 14.6 percent.

The SFS saw 3,994 applications, up from 3,792 last year and accepted 666 applicants at a rate of 16.7 percent.

The NHS had 1,268 applicants, up from 1,227 applicants last year and saw an acceptance rate of 17.8 percent with 226 students accepted.

The McDonough School of Business saw a slight decline in application numbers, with a pool of 3,283 compared to last year’s pool of 3,304. The MSB accepted 538, or 16.4 percent of applicants.

Of the admitted students, 12 percent, or 393, are black, 635 or 19 percent are Asian and 410 or 16 percent identified as Latino. According to Deacon, these numbers have increased steadily with the pool, though the number of accepted students who are Latino increased slightly more from last year’s 11 percent.

CLAUDIA CHEN/THE HOYA Of Georgetown's admitted students this year, 12 percent are black, 19 percent are Asian and 16 percent identify as Latino.
Of Georgetown’s admitted students this year, 12 percent are black, 19 percent are Asian and 16 percent identify as Latino.

The average admitted student ranked in the top 3 percent of their class.

The Class of 2021 accepted students includes a student from all 50 states, with California, New York and New Jersey having the highest number of applicants.

According to Deacon, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions tries to focus on individual students during the application process rather than the numbers of applicants.

“We try to make it student-centered, so we don’t look at driving numbers way up, we look at trying to create an opportunity for you to actually talk to us,” Deacon said. “In many ways, there no place better to be than right here.”

Deacon said before the final pool numbers came in, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions made the decision to increase the size of the incoming class, combined with the number of transfers, from 1,580 to 1,600.

Additionally, Deacon said part of the heightened numbers of applications this year can be attributed to the changes the College Board made to the SAT tests, which included a lowering the maximum score to a 1,600 as opposed to 2,400, combining the critical reading and the writing sections and eliminating the penalty for wrong answers.

Of admitted students, the middle 50 percent scored between 690 and 770 on the writing and language section and between 680 and 770 on the math section. On the ACT, the middle 50 percent scored between 31 and 34.

Deacon said that students taking the new test tended to score higher, which would have encouraged them to apply to top-tier schools like Georgetown.

“This was a redesigned test that sort of made it more like the ACT in the sense that it was more aligned with curricular-type things as opposed to just academic power,” Deacon said. “Our overall SAT averages of the pool increased by 25 points. That would suggest that the people who were getting higher scores decided to apply to tougher colleges.”

Though the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has not collected finalized numbers on first-generation college students, Deacon said around 12 percent of the pool is composed of first-generation students.

Programs like the Georgetown Scholarship Program and the Community Scholars Program, both of which provide financial and support to first-generation students, have strengthened Georgetown’s ability to encourage more applicants, according to Deacon.

“What GSP is all about, what Community Scholars is about, is trying to move beyond the elite schools to schools where students would not necessarily apply to Georgetown, they try to give them some consideration,” Deacon said.

However, Georgetown’s relatively low endowment impedes its ability to support higher numbers of students from low-income backgrounds.

“If we had more money, we would have more first-gen kids, I guarantee you. But we don’t have more money right now,” Deacon said. “Really since the ’80s, we have been competing at the highest level. But it’s hard when everybody else has a lot more money.”

Deacon also predicted changes to the financial aid protocol given President Donald Trump’s and the Republican-controlled Congress’ hints at cutting back on Pell grants and federal work-study programs, which are both income-based financial aid programs.

“I don’t know what is going to happen in this current Congress and administration. They’re talking about cutting Pell grants, and we’re going to have to rethink the way that financial aid is distributed in general,” Deacon said.

Georgetown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are the two top-tier schools across the country that utilize their own applications as opposed to the Common Application. Deacon did not predict the university will move to the Common Application any time soon.

“We couldn’t accommodate doing the Common Application. It would change everything if we did it and it would probably change, to a degree, the student body we get — not for the better,” Deacon said.

Deacon said that Georgetown’s independent application lends itself to a more committed pool of applicants, which in turn increases the yield.

“It means that there’s some sort of self-selection in our applicant pool, which means that we don’t have those kind of people in the pool who are really good students, but for whom we are just one of many,” Deacon said. “We get people who actually have a good reason to be in our applicant pool.”

For students who end up in Georgetown’s Class of 2021 because they did not get into their first-choice schools, Deacon said students are satisfied with their choice because Georgetown’s external application requires additional work.

“We’re doing things that make you do more, and yet the pool keeps going up. That would suggest that people are willing to do it,” Deacon said. “If they end up here even if we weren’t the first choice, I think they feel like they earned it.”

Admitted students will be invited to attend the Georgetown Admissions Ambassadors Program Open Houses on the weekends of April 7 and April 22. Final enrollment decisions are due by May 1.

Deacon anticipates the yield will remain steady or increase slightly from last year’s 48 percent.


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  2. Lawrence A. Kessner says:

    Interesting article. The graphic labeled “Admission Rates,” however, doesn’t show admission rates. It instead shows a breakdown of the admitted class, by ethnicity (not by race – “Latino” is at best an ethnic but not a racial category).
    What would be more illuminating to me would be to show actual admission rates by ethnicity – i.e.what percentage of those who applied in each ethnic category, are admitted. That could be an eye-opener, if Georgetown’s admissions policies are at all similar to those of the Ivies, where Asian applicants are admitted at a significantly lower rate than, respectively, Latinos and Blacks.

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