Incoming Freshman Class Will Be Significantly Smaller Due to Overenrollment

The admissions office. Photo by Hercules Zhang.

GDS’ incoming freshman class will be significantly smaller than previous classes. Director of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid Chris Levy estimated that there would be 33 or 34 new students. There were 64 new freshmen in the class of 2024 and 52 new freshmen in the class of 2025. 

The smaller class comes amid concerns about overenrollment in the school as a whole. Levy said GDS has exceeded the enrollment cap of 1,075 students, dictated by its agreement with the Tenleytown Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC). 

“One of the things we’ve experienced in the last couple years is a higher than expected yield, so more students than we had planned for. That meant that for this admissions cycle we had to admit fewer students,” he said.

The yield refers to the percentage of students who were admitted and then chose to enroll at GDS. In past years, GDS has admitted more students than there were spots available, anticipating that some would say no. This year, Levy said they admitted the same number of students as they had spots and would go to the waitlist if some said no. 

There is no specific limit to the number of students in the incoming 9th grade. Levy told the Bit that ideally there would be about 130 students in next year’s 9th grade class in order to get back under the 1075 student enrollment cap. In the current freshman class, there are 142 students. 

According to Levy, GDS’ acceptance rate and other enrollment statistics are not available to prospective families or the public. Levy declined to share the numbers with the Bit, citing the incomplete enrollment process. He said that more information would be available after the admissions office finishes its yearly analysis in the coming months.

Although GDS does not publish its acceptance rate, Levy said that the acceptance rate this year will be lower than in past years.

The admissions process begins in early fall. A significant portion of the process is conducted using the website Ravenna. GDS no longer accepts the SSAT or ISEE admissions tests, which were phased out after the pandemic. 

According to Senior Director of High School Admissions Elaine Scott, the admissions team looks for students with strong character and academics. “This is not a school where disciplinary matters are happening on a daily basis, so character matters to us,” she said, citing the school’s open campus policy. “We’re not in the business of chasing down students to get them back in class.” She added, “we want kids who enjoy learning for learning’s sake; they want to be in school.”

Scott told the Bit that the main reason a student would be rejected is academics. “If they’re not successful where they already are, there’s no way they’re going to come into GDS and have success,” she said. 

Scott also acknowledged that GDS prioritizes students with parents or siblings who attend or have attended the school. “If a family who is connected is meeting all of the admissions criteria, they’re very much in the pool of strong candidates,” Levy said. “Obviously if you have a sibling and you’re already a strong applicant, your chances are good.” 

There are a variety of events and activities for newly admitted freshmen. “Families can come back on campus and see the school and have a half-day shadow,” Director of High School Admissions Amanda Deringer said. She added that students have the opportunity to meet department chairs and those in charge of different extracurricular activities. 

“It was nice seeing the entire campus,” incoming freshman Mina Holtzman said. “We walked through pretty much every single hallway, and we stopped in some of the classes, which was helpful.”

Incoming freshman Joey Hilzenrath said that the application process was stressful for them. Procrastination and pressure with the essays were the most challenging parts, they said. 

Incoming freshman and current GDS 8th grader Jacob Tobais expressed disappointment that he will be in a smaller class next year. “It’s kind of a bummer that less people are coming into school, because it’s less people to share interests with and just less people overall,” he said. 

Current freshman Aron Moldabek-Machado, however, said that when his class expanded as it entered high school, his sense of closeness was lost. “The grade used to be really tight—everyone knew each other,” he said. “But now it’s kind of more sparse. It’s more cliques and more segregated groups of people.”

Mikhail Westelius, a current freshman who is new to GDS this year, expressed optimism about next year’s freshman class. “In some ways it could make them closer, because you would know everybody in the grade,” Westelius said.