How to GW: Your guide to navigating the University and D.C.

Declare your major

A student’s major directs their course of study over four years at GW. With more than 70 possible majors, there are subjects for every interest and every type of person.

To declare a major, students fill out a declaration of major form, which they then submit to their school or program. Students must also meet with an adviser in their program to create a plan of study and make sure they are fulfilling their general curriculum requirements.

For students who are unsure of a major, Landon Wade, director of advising for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, says there is “no big rush.” Since students are not required to declare their major until they are registering for their fifth semester of classes, Wade suggests that students sample classes and fulfill their GCRs to find a major that works for them.

He also encouraged students to be flexible with their plans, noting that a majority of students switch their major at some point in their college careers.

Switch schools

For many students, switching majors may also mean switching schools. The process of changing from one school within the University to another is relatively simple in terms of paperwork, Wade said.

Each school has its own requirements for admission, but students that meet these requirements only need to turn in a form through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Get the classes you want

With nearly 10,000 undergraduates vying for a limited number of spaces in each class, finding classes that interest you and fulfill school and major requirements can be a challenge.

If you don’t get the classes you want on registration day, most students recommend waiting until the add/drop period during the first few weeks of classes. Students drop classes and change their schedules for various reasons, giving others the opportunity to sign into a class that is no longer filled to capacity.

Become a member of Colonial Cabinet

If you enjoy wearing white polo shirts for two months and singing the GW fight song several dozen times a day, then you may want to become a member of Colonial Cabinet.

The group of upperclassmen who lead Colonial Inauguration are chosen through an interview process that involves an application, group interview and individual interview.

GW alumnus Tyler Brown, a member of the 2005 Colonial Cabinet, said a student needs to have “an edge” to become a member of the group.

“Generally, (acceptance) requires a student to stand out from the masses that are applying,” he said.

Brown warned that because some of the most accomplished students at GW apply for a Cabinet position, the application process is highly competitive. Nonetheless, he said being on Cabinet was a great experience and encouraged students to apply.

Study in a quiet place

It’s a Thursday night and your room has become a social gathering for your roommates and twenty of their closest friends. Unfortunately, you have a midterm tomorrow and need to get some intense studying done. Where do you go?

Gelman Library has group study spaces and quiet rooms throughout the building that are frequented at all hours of the night. Other students use study areas in Duques Hall and 1957 E Street to find a quiet oasis. More adventurous students make the trip to the Mount Vernon Campus and study at Eckles Library.

Students are not confined to campus to find a good place to study, however. For those looking to spend a Saturday or Sunday studying off campus, Ebenezer’s near Union Station provides free wireless Internet and tasty treats for customers. On U Street, students can head to Busboys and Poets for a good meal, comfy couches and a great atmosphere to put the final touches on a paper.

Switch your housing

Tired of your roommate already? Not in with Thurston?

Students looking to switch their housing assignment can make use of the GW Housing Program’s room swap system. The online system, located at, will help you find other students who are looking to change their housing assignments. Once you mutually agree on a swap online, you can change rooms as soon as the New Hall Key Depot opens the next morning.

Start a student organization

Like many people across the globe, GW alumnus Tim Shea enjoys people-watching. When he found a group of friends with a similar interest early in his GW career, he decided to start The People Watcher’s Club at GW.

If you can’t find a student group that matches your interest in the over 300 student organizations at GW, students can start their own group. Students interested in creating their own organization must fill out a responsibility form, create a constitution and a budget and take an online quiz before being certified by the Student Activities Center.

Shea encouraged students interested in starting their own group to meet with members of SAC, pay attention to deadlines and have a good leadership structure in place. He said most new student organizations fail because a lack of good leadership and it is important for organizations to have new blood to take over once the original leaders have graduated.

Find an internship

Many students come to D.C. for the amazing opportunities the city has to offer. Whatever your interest, the District probably has an organization for you that is quite possibly looking for unpaid labor.

Many students utilize GW’s Career Center for job opportunities and internships. The Career Center has an online database of employers and offers resume critiques and consulting where students can get free advice from a Career Center staff member.

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