Jacob Garber, a senior majoring in English and creative writing, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.
As the final batches of high school seniors come to campus before they decide to whether to apply, I wonder what impression an applicant leaves with after spending only a day at the University.
One day is long enough for GW to make an impression on a potential applicant, but it seems that the tropes and one-liners that fill information sessions and cover university buildings become a problem, even if they are attractive.
When an interested high schooler sees the Capitol emblazoned on Gelman and #onlyatGW on every corner, they don’t really know what University looks for in its applicants. It seems as though GW is targeting students who will be excited by run-ins with Senators and location, rather than the ones interested in GW’s true academic value.
Sometime along the way, whether it was with GW’s rebranding or its admissions flubs, the University’s lost its message. But the University can provide some much-needed clarity about what it looks for in applicants. And this begins in admissions, with frank and honest conversations with applicants.
The admissions office has talked about how there’s going to be more transparency in the department. As University Spokeswoman Candace Smith told The Hatchet last month, “Going forward, they’re going to be more clear about how things are done.”
But if GW can pull this off, this won’t just be a way to wash away a public relations hit. It can make the University stronger.
However, this can’t just be a shiny new brand to generate interest that’s only skin deep. It should mean real honesty – being more open with applicants on what it expects when it asks the “Why GW?” question on its application.
As it is now, GW makes answering the question superficial..
The University highlights many of the superficial attractions of attending GW, and they shouldn’t be the only reasons why prospective students want to attend. But it’s up to GW to tell them what those reasons are. Our University is much more than presidential motorcades and internships on the hill.
If GW begins being more honest in these information sessions and tours, the school will no longer be selling itself to applicants. Applicants will be selling themselves to GW. Students will cater their essay to the University’s goals and expectations instead of taking a shot in the dark in answering “Why GW?” This will draw in more high caliber high schoolers instead of those who are wow’d by the University’s shiny brand.
A brand is an important asset at the GW, but it takes something more honest to attract the best applicants.