Staff Editorial: Academic strategy in action

It should not come as a surprise that at GW, one of the most urban universities in America, students pay less attention to academics than they probably should at a comprehensive research university, according to a report from the Academic Excellence Strategic Planning Committee. Student exit surveys indicated that GW graduates felt a lack of engagement in academics, leading to a low grade for their educational experience at the University. This can mostly be attributed to student behavior, including busy D.C. social lives and active participation in an abundance of work and internship opportunities.

In response to this problem the University created and enacted “Strategic Planning for Academic Excellence” – and the achievements of this project are beginning to spring up all around campus. We are pleased the University realized there are improvements that should be made across the board to help students focus on education.

In an effort to strengthen undergraduate research opportunities, University administrators are launching research fellowships and proposing new, more challenging classes for ambitious students. To ensure students improve their writing skills, officials implemented a freshman writing program, University Writing 20. The University has also begun to explore the option of switching to a four-by-four credit system, where four in-depth, more rigorous courses would replace the five-course, three-credit system under which GW currently operates. The current system usually encourages students to take at least one throwaway course of minimal engagement.

These initiatives are all part of the University’s plan to improve academics as laid out in a collection of reports available online. The Strategic Plan exemplifies the ambitious forward-thinking that will move GW into the next tier.

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