Perks of being a first-year: Opportunities exclusive to freshmen

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You can enjoy free events at the Kennedy Center through the District Connections program for first-year students.

As a freshman, you may feel like you’re back at the bottom of the totem pole.

That might be true, but there are still some benefits that come with being the new kid at GW, including access to freshman-only competitions and free events around the District. Before your freshman year draws to a close, take advantage of events and programs designed to help you explore D.C. and grow academically in your first year on campus.

District Connections

Officials debuted District Connections earlier this year aiming to help first-year students familiarize themselves with the District. The program, which shares free events that students can sign up for around D.C., has offered freshmen tickets to shows at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center and tours around the monuments since its launch.

The Class of 2022 also enjoyed several group outings including a Nationals game, a show at Ford’s Theatre, the D.C. Comedy Festival and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade – all for free. Events organized by the program are led by a staff or faculty member along with student leaders. All you need to do to participate is register online. Every week, you will receive an email about the event that week.

Dean’s Seminars

Dean’s Seminars are three-credit courses with relatively small class sizes – usually capped at about 20 students – open to freshmen only. The classes feature one-of-a-kind topics like fairy tales and substances and society. Dean’s seminars can often count for multiple G-PAC requirements, and you’ll have the luxury of working closely with a professor and your classmates.

This fall, you can enroll in seminars like Hollywood and Politics, Substances and Society, Zombie Capitalism and The Anthropology of the Cell Phone. If you are having trouble finding open courses or are taking one too many science labs, consider taking advantage of a class you can only take during your first year at GW.

Eat out with more GWorld

Believe it or not, freshmen have more GWorld than any other students on campus. GW gives residents without a kitchen $2,300 per semester – about $22 per day – compared to the $1,400 given to mostly upperclassmen with kitchens in their residence hall rooms. A larger pool of dining cash is your excuse to eat out more, socialize with your peers and try a bite at every on-campus establishment.

You can enjoy several sit-down meals that accept GWorld, including Flower Child, Bindaas and KAZ Sushi Bistro. The restaurants may seem pricier as your GWorld dollars decrease after freshman year, so treat yourself to filling sit-down meals while you still have the cash.

The Eckles Prize for Freshman Research Excellence

While essay contests like the Julian Clement Chase Prize and Undergraduate Essay Contest: Reflections on Research and Scholarship are open to all undergraduate students, the Eckles Prize for Freshman Research Excellence is a competition restricted to first-year students. Judges evaluate research essays based on students’ use of resources, like archives, books and academic papers, made available by GW Libraries.

If you enter the competition before May, you have a chance to win up to $500 and present your research at an awards ceremony the following fall semester. Winning papers are also added to GW’s institutional repository, an online catalog that provides free, public access to scholarly works and research authored by GW faculty, staff and students.

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