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Applications also up at GMU, Marymount, Trinity

As I reported in today's Post, many of the selective colleges around Washington are reporting record numbers of applications this year, including the University of Virginia, George Washington University, American University, Johns Hopkins University, the College of William and Mary and the University of Richmond.

Here are three more to add to the list.

Applications to George Mason University were up more than 20 percent over last year by the January 15 deadline, to about 20,000, said Andrew Flagel, dean of admissions. The surge could be stonger than Mason saw in 2006, "the year we went to the Final Four," he said.

Marymount University in Arlington has received a record 1,400 applications, about 50 more than last year at this time. Marymount has rolling admissions.

Applications to the 800-student College of Arts and Sciences at Trinity Washington University are up 39 percent over this time last year, according to Ann Pauley, university spokeswoman. Trinity also has rolling admissions.

The numbers do not necessarily mean applications are up across all of Washington higher education. Today's story covered most of the selective colleges in the region, so that trend, at least, looks solid.

But I did not survey every college in the region, and I did not hear from many of the smaller, less selective regional institutions. Colleges may not issue a press release to announce that their applications are down.

Why are applications up at the schools where they are up? I suggested a few possible reasons in today's story and a recent blog post. Students may be gravitating to schools with strong brands and large aid budgets, knowing they will get a good -- and marketable -- education at a fair price, not a bad thing in a recession. Students may also be applying to more schools, fishing for the best aid package.

Chris Domes, vice president for enrollment and student services at Marymount, adds another theory to the mix. He thinks many students are choosing Marymount so they can stay closer to home, saving costs on airfare and gasoline -- and laundry and weekend meals and who knows what else -- by staying within close range of Mom and Dad. Many Trinity students also live and study a few miles from their homes.

"I think that students and families are looking at ways they can save costs, and one of them is travel," Domes said.

Flagel cited his school's reputation as a best value and up-and-comer in the U.S. News rankings. Other factors: "First in country to include Youtube in application? Largest nationally competitive university with score-optional admissions? Popularity of the blog?"

(Their blog, not ours.)

Pauley, at Trinity, said their rising numbers are "the tangible results of the strategic growth plan under the leadership of President [Patricia] McGuire" and her team.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  January 25, 2010; 11:34 AM ET
Categories:  Admissions , Privates , Publics  | Tags: AU, GWU, U-Va., William & Mary, financial aid, undergraduate admissions  
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