College Tours: George Washington University

Gretchen (LP New York) and Murilo (LP São Paulo) recently traveled all over the East Coast to visit schools and gain some inside information. Read what they had to say about the university below!

Why is this school awesome?

There are so many opportunities for students at GW. From the location of the campus (literally in the heart of DC), to the internship opportunities, to the international contingent, many students would feel right at home here and be able to make the most of their time on campus. I was definitely impressed with the opportunities for real-world experiences!

Describe the "typical" student:

Students seem slightly more intense than students at other universities in the area. Students at GW are very involved in activities, but in a "I'm-building-my-resume-with-all-my-activities" type of way. Students also seem independent and less sheltered by traditional campus and dorm and dining hall living.

What is campus like?

One big theme at GW is the city is an extended classroom. While there is a "campus," it basically just means that there is about a 5-square-block area where all the University's buildings are concentrated. Encircling the campus is the heart of DC - the IMF and World Bank are right across the street and the National Mall is not far away. In fact, the admissions officer made the joke that what the rest of the world calls "The National Mall," GW students call "the GW Green."
The situation of the GW campus makes it possible for really interesting and engaging internships, research opportunities, guest speakers, and general networking opportunities. I was really impressed by this throughout the tour and wished I had (and/or taken advantage of) opportunities such as this in my undergraduate experience.

What is the difference between the Foggy Bottom campus and the Mt. Vernon campus?

They are, in the words of the admissions officer, "fully integrated." There is a Vernon Express Shuttle that leaves every 5-7 minutes and goes between the two campuses and takes about 10-15 minutes.

What are internship opportunities like?

"Knowledge in action" is a big part of life at GW for students to gain real-life experience. 90% of students have not just one, but two (or more) internships during their time at GW. In fact, GW is the #1 school in US for internships. Internships include positions at the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian, a fashion designer within the city, and many, many more. The alumni network is also very strong and helpful in gaining internships.

Favorite spot on campus?

Lisner auditorium. This is the second largest auditorium in DC Metro area (second only to the Kennedy Center). It's also impressive how many amazing speakers GW gets to come speak at the auditorium.

What are classes like?

It's very popular to double major or minor, and students often do this between different schools within the university. GW asks students to declare their major halfway through sophomore year. The only universal requirement is a writing course for freshmen, which is taught on the Mt. Vernon campus. Science is taught with a "scale up" method - which is a collaborative learning process based on problem-solving with peers, rather than a didactic teacher-to-student flow of information. Most classes are capped at 28 people (in part to facilitate the "scale up" method). The student to faculty ratio is 12:1, and large classes have resuscitation sections (smaller discussion groups that meet weekly), capped at 20 people.

How is faculty-to-student communication?

"No student is lost." Every student has 2 advisers: one to help navigate his/her major and course requirements, and another to help cultivate and develop minors, figure out the focus of majors and recommend internships related to student's specific interests.

How do students eat on campus?

There are no traditional meal plans! Instead of swipes for meals, students get what's basically a debit card pre-loaded with a certain amount of money for meals for the semester. They can use this money at different food vendors on and off campus (including food trucks!), as well as at stores like CVS, Whole Foods, etc.

Potential pros: lots of flexibility with eating options, learn budgeting skills
Potential cons: lack of "dining hall" social environment

What is the housing like?

Students are required to live on campus for 3 years, and 75% of students stay on campus for their fourth year. GW uses roommate surveys to match freshman who don't have roommate requests. The #1 question on survey: Are you a Republican or Democrat?
GW is not a housing lottery, and the majority of people get one of their top three room choices.
Housing options vary a lot, but (I think) all have laundry within building, fridge and microwave already within room. Freshman dorms don't have common bathrooms shared with whole floor except for in the singles-only dorm building. Mt. Vernon housing has suite-style dorms available.

Information about admissions:

ED1 - Nov 1
EDII - Jan 1
Reg - Jan 1

All three deadlines have equal consideration for financial aid and merit scholarships (all students who apply are automatically considered for merit scholarships). GW is also test optional! GW takes a more holistic view of their applicants. There is a TOEFL/ISL requirement for international students, but a 600+ on the SAT Verbal or a 27+ on the ACT English can substitute.

International Perspective?

60% of students study abroad, and 90% of students in International Studies study abroad!
About 20-25% of population at GW is made up of international students, and the international student populations feels very integrated into the school.
For international students, a great resource is the University Writing Center located at Gelman Library. This writing center helps with college-level writing in general, and is helpful for all students, but possibly has even more worth to international student with some language barriers.

What is there to do outside of class and academics?

There are 400+ student groups, and again, the city is at your fingertips! 30% of undergrads participate in Greek Life, and there are also pre-professional/philanthropic Greek organizations.

Fun Facts?

Officially, GW students are "The Colonials" - no animal mascot. Unofficially, they are "The Hippos." An old president of the university bought a bronze statue of a hippo for his wife while on a trip to Rhode Island, but she hated it, so it wound up displayed on campus instead of in their home. Students rub its nose and paint its toenails with nail polish before exams for good luck!

Murilo with the hippo!

Follow along for more college tours here!