I remember sitting down to work on my GW application, trying to decide which school to apply to. At that point, I didn’t know whether I wanted to study international affairs or engineering.
And to be honest, I’m still deciding.
But with the strategic plan, which outlines GW’s academic strategy for the next decade, students will have the freedom to apply to the University as a whole, rather than picking from individual undergraduate colleges.
Let’s face it: Most undergraduates have no idea what they want to study when they come to college. And this approach would give those still unsure a chance to explore different courses and make decisions later in their GW career.
By reducing the pressure for students to choose a specialization before they’ve even been admitted to GW, the plan will give undergraduates more flexibility.
The problem with having to apply to specific schools is that there is more pressure to declare your major track early. But if students just apply to GW, they aren’t pigeonholed into one field of study.
Under the new model, students would have time to decide and weigh their options. As a freshman who has yet to declare a major, I understand the pressure of having to apply to school without knowing exactly what I was interested in. Going forward, students won’t be forced to make hasty decisions.
And this idea of having students apply to GW as opposed to its specialized schools isn’t just an admissions decision. It will also play a role for students in the classroom.
University leaders want to encourage collaboration and foster a cross-disciplinary culture in which all students can benefit by uniting them under a single core curriculum.
Some have suggested that this system would undermine the prestige of some of GW’s colleges, such as the nationally ranked Elliott School of International Affairs and the School of Media and Public Affairs.
But with this new University initiative, students will be able to understand how different subjects are interconnected rather than being confined to one discipline or course of study. More collaboration between these schools would expand the scope of a GW degree, and it would help prepare us for the world outside college, where collaboration between disciplines is a common practice.
In the past, GW has created a culture of insularity among the five colleges and departments. In the past decade, the Elliott School has emerged as one of the top 10 international affairs schools in the country.
We have become a University that is perceived as being good at only a handful of areas, but this new organization and interdisciplinary focus can change that trend. It demonstrates the University’s commitment to the wide array of disciplines taught on campus every day.
Under the new model, we would be not only members of our individual schools, but also part of a single, cohesive intellectual community.
And that’s a model we can all get behind.
Sri Murthy is a freshman in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.