After spending time in D.C. working long hours as members of Louisiana Congressman Lee Fletcher’s campaign staff, Kirk Williamson and Jamie Hennigan were convinced it was time they left Monroe, La., for the excitement of the District.
“I love meeting all the diversity of people,” Hennigan said. “At our college (in Louisiana) everyone is from a 30 mile radius.”
Williamson and Hennigan, both sophomore transfer students, shared an apartment while attending Louisiana Tech University before deciding to come to GW.
“We live in the cotton fields of Louisiana,” Williamson said. “To come out here is culture shock.”
Williamson and Hennigan are two of 98 transfer students who accepted GW’s offer to enroll for spring semester. This number is up from last year, when 69 students transferred to GW for the spring semester.
University officials attribute the rise to an increased focus on communication with students regarding their applications.
“If we are able to establish communication earlier on, the more time the student has to make their application complete and the more time they have to make the decision,” said Michael J. O’Leary, senior associate director of undergraduate admissions.
Students began sending in applications to transfer in October, prior to a Dec. 1 deadline. Students were notified of their acceptances immediately after their applications were reviewed.
“Transfer students seem to be a bit more of an educated consumer. They know their strengths and weaknesses, they know their likes and dislikes,” O’Leary said. “They are in a much better position to make the decision than a freshman student.”
O’Leary said transfer students generally have an easier time adjusting to campus life than freshmen because they are typically older and have already made the adjustment to college life.
“(Students) all go through an academic adjustment, a social adjustment and a residential adjustment,” he said. “But transfer students have been through it before.”
The University accepted 176 of 635 applicants for a 27 percent admissions rate this spring. GW’s freshman admissions rate is typically higher, around 40 percent.
O’Leary said that, as of Friday morning, the University was still notifying students that they had been accepted as transfers, as many acceptances were dependent on students’ fall semester grades.
“I didn’t hear anything (from GW),” said freshman transfer student Pankti Desai, from Lakeland, Fla., “so I called (the Office of Admissions) last Monday and I was like, ‘I have to know.’ The woman said I had just gotten accepted five minutes ago.”
Desai, who moved to the United States from India in 2000, decided she belonged at GW last year when she came to visit her brother, a GW senior. When she was not accepted as an incoming freshman for the fall of 2002, she attended the University of Southern Florida and applied to GW as a transfer.
While moving to the U.S. from India was a big adjustment for Desai, moving away from her family is an experience of different proportions.
“(School) is more challenging when you are on your own,” Desai said. “(At USF) I lived 30 minutes away from my parents and would go home on weekends.”
Transfer students checked into GW residence halls throughout the weekend, taking part in a transfer student Colonial Inauguration on Friday and Saturday.
While spring semester transfer applications are reviewed similarly to fall applications, spring applications can be given more time because there are fewer of them, O’ Leary said.
As for the increase in transfer students who chose GW this spring semester, O’Leary attributes the change partly to the appeal of GW.
“I think they like what they see at GW,” he said. “And they know they will be served well here.”
Ross Wujkowski, a third-year transfer student and an accounting major from Fairfax, Va., attended both George Mason and James Madison universities before settling on GW.
“I was impressed how the school networks with the city,” Wujkowski said. “This is the last place I’m going.”