DATA: OFFICE OF UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS; SHAKTI NOCHUR/THE HOYA Though traditional sources of applicants like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts saw a decline, application rates in the South and West rose this year.
Though traditional sources of applicants like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts saw a decline, application rates in the South and West rose this year.

This year’s prospective freshman class set a record with 20,050 applications to the university’s class of 2016.

But they also set a record in diversity, as the numbers of African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and international students applying to the university continued to rise, according to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon.

From last year, applications from African-Americans and Asian-Americans each jumped 1.05 percent from 1,773 to 1,858 and from 2,786 to 2,934, respectively. Meanwhile, the number of applications from Hispanic students increased 1.1 percent from 2,067 to 2,266 and the number of international applications rose 1.05 percent from 2,255 to 2,344.

According to Deacon, the trends in the number of undergraduate applications to Georgetown this year closely reflect an increase in ethnic diversity in the United States.

Deacon also pointed to a shift in the regions from which students applied.

The decline in the number of applications from states like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, which have traditionally sent high numbers of students to Georgetown, matched the decline in these states’ applicant populations.

According to Deacon, the growth of the overall applicant pool can be attributed to increased interest from prospective students in the growing Southern and Western regions of the country.

Florida, California and Georgia saw the biggest jumps, with the states seeing an increase of 82, 73 and 69 applications, respectively, from last year.  California remained the largest source of applications among the 50 states, as it has been for about five years.

While Deacon lauded the increased diversity of applications as beneficial to Georgetown, he added that the increased ethnic and geographical diversity of applications will create more strain on Georgetown’s commitment to provide financial aid to students in need. According to Deacon, this shift represents a tilt toward a less wealthy demographic.

“The looming issue behind all of these numbers is the impact on financial aid. We have a more diverse and larger population that puts even more pressure on raising money for scholarships,” he said. “We would love to be able to see the tilt continue, but we need to be able to afford it.”

Deacon attributed this growth of interest in states farther from the Eastern seaboard to the university’s countrywide recruitment efforts and the continued appeal of studying in the District of Columbia.

“We think we get that [increase] because we do joint recruiting with elite universities all over the country … so we hit all 50 states. We get a general audience rather than very targeted audiences,” Deacon said. “And the farther away you are [from your target audience], the more you depend on your name, which suggests that Georgetown has greater name recognition across the country.”

Deacon said that the spike in interest from states outside the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the country will help insulate Georgetown from declining application rates in those areas.

“If we hadn’t seen growth outside the Northeast, we would be seeing declining applications,” he said. “Georgetown has a national appeal, fortunately. If we were primarily Northeastern, which a lot of colleges are, we would be facing some worrying times.”

Deacon said that only 31 percent of the applicant pool was from the Mid-Atlantic region this year, adding that it is very unusual for universities to derive such a small proportion of their applicants from their immediate region.

“That’s good news for us in that less than a third of our own pool comes from where there’s decline,” he said.

Deacon added that while it is too early to tell whether the demographic breakdown of applicants will ultimately be reflected in the distribution of the Class of 2016, he said it was likely.

“There are no preordained quotas and we’ll have to see how it shakes out, but I would guess that more will be accepted from [faraway] states than in past years,” Deacon said.

Deacon characterized this year’s trends as a surprisingly dramatic reflection of demographic trends sweeping the country. He said that the stagnation in the number of white applicants and the sizable growth in minority applicants, as well as the decrease in Northeastern applicants and growth in Western and Southern applicants are in line with real population changes in the United States.

“This is a more dramatic-looking [shift] than we thought it would be. We could predict the drops and rises, but these are actually really visible. … When you think about the pool rising significantly in Alabama … we would not necessarily have predicted that level of a rise,” he said. “We’re pleased to see that kind of change.”

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