Georgetown has seen a dramatic rise in early undergraduate applications from minority students, specifically black students, this admissions cycle.
Applications in the early pool from minority students rose by about 24.5 percent on the whole. Within that figure, early applications from black students jumped the most, with an increase of about 44.9 percent. The number of Latino students applying early increased by about 24.7 percent from last year. Early applications from Asian Americans increased by 11.4 percent and those from international students increased by 29.5 percent.
Although the rise in applications from Latino students can be partly attributed to the general population growth of that demographic in the United States, the rise in early applications from black students is largely inexplicable, according to Charles Deacon, dean of undergraduate admissions.
“There is this macro trend. And so it’s not surprising to me therefore that the increase between last year and this year is almost entirely students of color, plus international students,” he said. “But it is surprising to me, the number of African American students jumping so much. That’s not what you would predict because that population is not growing. That’s a stable population. So that’s an interesting phenomenon that at the moment is inexplicable.”
Deacon’s lack of an explanation for this year’s spike in applications from black students is not unfounded. Georgetown has traditionally been popular among black students, and in 2008, Black Enterprise Magazine ranked the university as number five on a list of top colleges for black students for 2008.
According to Candace Carrington (COL ’12), a member of the Black Student Alliance board, this year’s dramaticincrease may stem from Georgetown’s recent focus on diversity issues.
While Georgetown has drawn attention for some racially-charged incidents, minority applicants may have been encouraged by the promotion of the bias-related incident reporting and dialogue surrounding diversity, Carrington said.
Ryan Wilson (COL ’12), co-chair of the Admissions and Recruitment Diversity Working Group, cited a variety of proposals, such as a new question about diversity on Georgetown’s application, that could have contributed to the jump.
“I think it’s just an overall campaign to show our values,” Wilson said.
Georgetown’s continued commitment to meeting the full financial need of applicants and fundraising push for scholarships makes Georgetown a draw for low-income students, according to Wilson.
Both Milana Edwards, education committee chair for Georgetown’s chapter of the NAACP, and Carrington said that more black students are graduating from high school.
“I also think there might be an increase – and I’m not sure how significant this is – in educational opportunity for minority students of lower socioeconomic status. Charter schools [in urban areas] have been graduating their first class of seniors in the past 10 years or so .” Edwards said in an email.
“I know from a personal standpoint I was the first from my school (which was a charter school) to go to Georgetown, and for the past three years there’s [been] a student that goes here and more and more are accepted.”
Edwards said, however, that the high number of applications from minority students is not necessarily linked to the number of applications from low-income minority students. Georgetown saw an overall increase in applicants who qualify for financial aid in the early action cycle, according to Deacon.
While the university has initiated fundraising efforts for student scholarships, providing full financial support for all accepted students will become more of a challenge in the future.
“It’s a huge issue. I’m hoping Georgetown is going to continue to have as a priority responding equitably to all populations. And I would think we would based on our history,” Deacon said.
“But it’s going to take money that we don’t have right now. And the question is how we are going to solve that problem. It puts a lot of pressure on the Advancement Office to raise money.”
Ultimately, however, the Georgetown administration has been pleased with the increased applications from minority and low-income students.
“I think that the admissions office is doing a great job getting out the message in many communities that Georgetown is a remarkable university and an ideal place for students of every background to develop their potential and realize their goals,” said Daniel Porterfield (COL ’83), senior vice president for strategic development and co-chair for the Admissions and Recruitment Diversity Working Group.
“I like the way that the Advisory Group on diversity issues within admissions has been thinking creatively about how we can recruit still more diverse incoming classes. It’s inspiring to see Georgetown doing so well.
For full reports on Georgetown’s early application numbers, see www.thehoya.com/news/University-Sees-Rise-113020102-/.