Transfer students to live under one roof

The University is housing most newly enrolled transfer students under the same roof this year in the latest round of a guessing game on how to help new non-freshmen transition into GW.

About 120 students live in Lafayette Hall, as opposed to last year’s housing assignments that scattered transfers across the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses. Center for Student Engagement director Tim Miller said his staff will use this year’s findings to craft a formal plan on how to make transfers feel at home, tugging at one perennial question: whether to group those students in one community or embed them with other students.

One large transfer community could ease the transition into the University by linking up students who are looking to integrate into GW, Tim Miller said.

The office will gauge how feedback compares to last year – when nearly half of transfers were placed on the Mount Vernon Campus – to determine which housing environment best suits students and aims to keep in touch until graduation.

“I don’t know which one is better – which is part of the reason why we’re trying this,” Tim Miller said. He said students’ wide range of backgrounds makes him hesitant to lock in one option for all of them.

“Half of them want to be treated like freshmen and say they’re starting brand new, and the other half say, ‘I’ve done it before, leave me alone,’ ” he said.

For the first time, the University is also rolling out a one-on-one mentorship program called TEAM that will pair incoming transfers with older transfer students, similar to the freshman-focused Guide to Personal Success concept.

Graduate student Ben Miller, the assistant program coordinator for transfer support services, will run the semester-long program. He said 72 new transfers signed up for a guide, while 55 returning transfer students volunteered to be mentors.

“It allows returning transfers to share their knowledge with new transfers and to share their ‘how to do GW’ information,” he said. “It’s opt-in, so everyone who wants to be a part of it will be.”

Tim Miller added that it is difficult for the University to allow transfer students to choose their own housing due to their late application period – after returning students apply for housing.

About 40 other transfer students live in other Foggy Bottom halls, and about 220 transfers live off campus, Director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel said.

About 380 students transferred to GW this fall, about 10 fewer than last fall’s figure, which was the highest in four years.

Last year, GW faced fire from transfer students placed on the Mount Vernon Campus who claimed they felt disconnected from Foggy Bottom. Several transferred to housing on the Foggy Bottom Campus, though the housing office did not track the precise number.

Coming up with a one-size-fits-all approach to housing transfer students is tricky, Ari Massefski, the transfer and new students representative to Student Association, said.

Living only with other transfer students is good for “meeting others who are also new to the community, but on the flip side it will be hard for them to meet new students from the rest of GW,” he said.

“The thing about transfers is that you can’t stereotype them,” Massefski said. “There are transfers who are old, some come out of big universities, some come out of community colleges. Others are straight out of the military.”

Peter Metelski, a sophomore transfer student, said so far, living in Lafayette Hall has eased him into GW.

“We’ve gotten to know everyone through the hall parties,” said Metelski, who was previously enrolled at a military college. “It’s been great.”

Natasha Cases, a new junior on campus, said that the close proximity to other transfers has made everyone “very eager to get to know each other.”

But sophomore transfer Andrew Barksdale said living in Lafayette makes it tough to meet the rest of the student body.

“Since we’re all in the same building, it isn’t convenient,” Barksdale said, adding that he plans to meet other students through clubs and classes.

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