Class of 2014 connects online

Eight months before they will arrive in Foggy Bottom for their first semester, hundreds of the 570 accepted Early Decision I students are seeking out classmates and dishing about the District on Facebook.

High school senior Chris Welch, from Massachusetts, admits that like most high school students in the U.S., he spends a good deal of time on Facebook. After being accepted to the University, he decided to put his time on the popular social networking Web site to good use.

Welch joined one of numerous Facebook groups created by future Colonials looking to meet and get to know their fellow classmates.

“I mainly joined the group so I could meet some people who I would soon be classmates with. I was also looking to see if there was anyone else that I knew in the group that had gotten accepted. And since there were 300 people in the group, I decided to become one of them too,” he said.

Hours after checking their admission status online, hundreds of the new members of the class of 2014 got a head start on their college careers by using Facebook to search for potential roommates, share their excitement over their acceptance and discuss everything from MTV’s show “Real World D.C.” to the chances that GW sports teams will be successful in the next four years.

“You are all expected to watch RW D.C. tomorrow. Taking notes is preferable,” a high school senior from Illinois wrote.

“While on the topic of sports, anyone like to play street or roller hockey? I really want to play White House hockey,” a high school senior from Pennsylvania wrote.

The largest group has more than 345 members, giving students an extensive network to discuss dorm life, financial aid packages, living in D.C. and Colonial Inauguration – eight months before they will arrive for their first semester. In addition to general class of 2014 groups, students have also created groups for the Elliott School, School of Business and Potomac and Thurston residence halls.

Lally Marino, a high school senior from Florida, joined the group with the hope of sharing the mixed emotions of excitement and nerves that come with a college acceptance letter.

“I went on the Facebook group primarily to meet other people from the class of 2014, because I know those were the only people [who] could truly understand the feeling that came with a GW acceptance,” she said. “I am so excited about being accepted and I want to meet people feeling the same way so we can share our excitement for the fall term, nerves about college, and information about the school and ourselves.”

Junior Ryan Douglass, student coordinator of Colonial Inauguration Headquarters, said by turning to Facebook, students can help themselves handle the emotion of the college transition process.

“It’s not surprising that students are so enthusiastically using Facebook to connect with future classmates,” Douglass said in an e-mail. “It’s the transition to college that can be both exciting and intimidating and using social networking like Facebook definitely facilitates that transition.”

Matt Epstein, an accepted high school senior from New York, said he is hopeful the connections he makes on Facebook now will help him with his plans to get involved at the University – and score him some votes in his planned bid for a Student Association seat.

“I hope to lay the groundwork for new friendships from the group,” he said. “I am making connections with my classmates which will help me next year as I want to be a freshman senator in the SA.”

For many students, the Facebook groups help pass the time before classes start in August.

For Florida high school senior Cory Weinberg, starting to immediately build connections with other students who share the excitement about GW rather than waiting until CI or the fall was a natural reaction to his acceptance.

“We want to know our course schedule and discover DC now, and it’s tough to wait eight months. This way, we can at least control one social aspect of college already, and dig through the pack and find potential friends or roommates,” he said.

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