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Without selective admissions, Wilson School enrollment increases 76 percent

With 155 new members in the Class of 2016, the Wilson School has seen an increase of 76 percent in its student body in two years. Overall enrollment, including both juniors and seniors, will now total 317, up from 180.

The Wilson School scrapped its selective admission enrollment starting with the Class of 2015. Previously, the school had managed to maintain a stable enrollment of about 180 students every year.

This year's number is about the same as the 162 students who enrolled last year as part of the Class of 2015.

Christina Davis, the faculty chair for the Wilson School’s undergraduate program, explained that the increase was not unexpected as the Wilson School had been receiving around 160 applications per year before selective admission was removed.

“The decision to end selectivity was made with the recognition that we might have a larger group of students,” she explained.

Davis added that the Wilson School was able to line up faculty to teach all the junior policy task forces and research seminars with the existing size of the Wilson School faculty. She added that the Wilson School added several new task forces and research seminars to maintain the small class sizes in the face of a large number of concentrators.

“The Wilson School is quite large, if you look at the full faculty list. We have enough faculty to accommodate the expanded curriculum, and we definitely have enough to teach and lead all the policy task forces and research seminars,” she said.

Davis added that the Wilson School has also made several new offers for faculty hires to further enrich offerings and added that the school has made joint hires with other affiliated departments that would help the faculty grow even more.

Summer Hanson ’16, a Wilson School concentrator, explained that while she was somewhat disappointed that she might not get as much interaction with faculty, she was also looking forward to knowing a lot of people who would also be concentrating in the Wilson School. She added that the task force and research seminars would provide opportunities for interaction that might not otherwise have been available in a large department.

“I think as we take more classes and go into our task force and research seminars, we’ll have more opportunity for bonding and interaction with faculty,” she said.

While the number of new concentrators in the Wilson School significantly increased after it ended its selective admission, the number of politics concentrators declined last year from 115 in the class of 2014 to 62 in the class of 2015. According to unofficial numbers from College Facebook,there are 71 new concentrators in the class of 2016, nearly a 40 percent decrease in two years.

Nolan McCarty, the chair of the politics department, explained that the number of concentrators two years ago was higher than normal and noted that the removal of selective admission to the Wilson School was a factor contributing to the decrease in the number of politics concentrators.

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McCarty added that the department has not had to make a change because of the decrease, explaining that the number of students who take politics courses has not decreased.

He said that the only difference was that politics majors were being given priority in seminars and 400-level courses, but noted that since the courses generally don’t fill up quickly, they remain as open as they did before.

“It's the same number of students studying politics as ever before — it’s just that now, some of them call themselves Woodrow Wilson School majors, and some of them remain politics majors,” he explained. “It hasn’t really affected course demand, so we haven’t really had to make any adjustments.”