Gabrielle Friedman: Revisit the internship for-credit policies

As summer approaches, half-naked guys play football in University Yard, paper assignments pile up and talk of summer internships abounds. As this is GW, where internships are prevalent among students, many of us will be spending the next few months getting coffee and typing letters for bosses. And while interns are participating in something rewarding that will build their resumes and help their transcripts, GW’s internship for-credit policy taints the process with complicated paperwork and over-the-top fees.

The policy is plagued with flaws, from having to pay a large amount of money for an internship to having to do class-related work for the credit, on top of the already busy schedule of an intern. Because of the policy, it is easy to see why some students might settle for the no-credit option by simply partaking in an internship for the experience. But students should not have to settle, and GW should revisit the policy in order to make the experience more rewarding for students.

To start, students must pay GW for each credit they seek to earn for their internships. Depending on how many credits they desire, students can expect to see a bill reaching thousands of dollars, as GW currently charges $1,118 per credit. While it makes sense to pay for credit toward a GW degree, why does it have to have such a high price tag? It is not as though getting an internship for credit requires the same resources a class requires. The cost for an internship should be lower than the cost for a class.

Beyond the cost, the basic eligibility requirements for securing an internship for credit raise more issues. A student must have a 2.5 GPA, may only have one incomplete on his or her transcript and must have completed 24 credit hours. While the GPA requirement and incomplete status seem fair, I am perplexed as to why freshmen, or those students who have not completed 24 credits by the application deadline of May 28, are excluded from the process. Several freshmen, myself included, have held internships this past year, and I found it a rewarding part of my first year at GW. However, it would have been more beneficial for my future had I been able to receive credit for my hard work.

The madness does not stop there. In order to receive one credit for an internship, a student must write a 10-page research paper on a topic relevant to the internship, as well as read 100 pages of research material a week. For two credits, it is a 20-page paper and 200 pages of reading a week. For three credits, it is a 30-page paper and 300 pages of reading a week. All of this comes on top of the actual internship demands, which is simply unfair.

Students must first find a faculty member who is willing to work with him or her on that paper; and that professor must be knowledgeable in the field of the desired internship. This may seem fairly easy during the fall or spring, when professors are actually on campus. But during the summer, when students or their professors are not in the District, problems can arise.

Many students come to GW for the opportunities the city offers. To have a policy that makes those opportunities less useful for the students is completely unfair. GW must revisit its policy in order to make the internship experience more rewarding and efficient for GW students.

The writer, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this column.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.