Dear Class of 2025: Congrats on your admission to GW – we’re sorry you have yet to see campus.
If you did not get a head start on campus tours before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there are a few things to know about the University before sending in your initial deposit. For starters, come to GW if you don’t care much about sports. Steer clear of the University if you care more about your classes than your next internship. You’ll fit right in here if you love learning the ins and outs of a city and are involved in activism.
From Greek life to D.C. culture, here’s what you should know about GW:
Student organizations are the heart of student life at GW. You can sign up for some of the larger groups like the Student Association, GW College Democrats or GW College Republicans – or you can get involved in more niche organizations like MediaFile or GW Balance. When we say there is something for everyone, we mean it. GW lacks communal spaces like a cafeteria or a quad, meaning the student organizations you choose to join ultimately shape your social space.
Residence hall life is also pretty active. You can choose your living arrangements, and you don’t need to deal with communal bathrooms. You could opt to live in the more scenic Mount Vernon Campus, or you could live right down the street from the White House on the Foggy Bottom Campus. You could live with a group of people who share similar academic interests, or you could wander around your residence hall and make new friends that way.
Keep in mind that GW students are always pining for a good internship and are the first to post their new opportunity on LinkedIn. Students are typically very passionate about their extracurriculars and are highly interested in their careers and outcomes, so much that it can feel overwhelmingly competitive. But if that’s the kind of culture you want, you will definitely fit in here.
Outside of the majors and areas of concentration GW offers, students must keep in mind that their academics are what they make of it. At many universities, students go to class and just focus on those classes. At GW, many students see college as an opportunity for professional development rather than excelling academically.
Because the University is pretty large, you may lack direct guidance from an adviser or professor. If you choose to attend GW, you need to be proactive in contacting professionals at GW who will help you succeed academically. That means showing up for office hours and heading to academic advising and career services on your own accord.
Unlike many universities, Greek life is not an overpowering presence on campus. The Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council recruitment numbers drop every year and are constantly plagued by charges of racism and sexual assault. You could find a social circle here, but keep in mind that you would be complicit in the institution’s history of misogyny and racism.
As an alternative option, students could find communities in alternative Greek life like service-oriented organizations and career/professional groups and multicultural Greek organizations. These organizations function much more like interest groups and provide a more close-knit place for students to find like-minded friends.
Being in the heart of D.C. means students have unparalleled access to internship and activism opportunities. Location-wise, students are in a better position to land high-profile internships than their peers at other universities because of access to transportation and proximity to prominent government buildings.
You likely already knew this applying to GW, but there is no shortage of activism here – and part of the reason for that is the University’s location. You could get involved in the D.C. or GW organization pushing for D.C. statehood, or you could get involved in the District’s chapter of Black Lives Matter. Plus, there are protests pretty much year-round, and many of those demonstrations cut right through campus.
Aside from activism, D.C. is low-key known for its vibrant culinary, arts and music scene. The city is packed with artists, shows at the Kennedy Center, muralists and other art galleries. Some of that art scene is found right on campus – you could get involved with music groups, knitting clubs or photography organizations.
When it comes to sports in D.C., the city plays host to several winning teams that students can always, in non-COVID times, get tickets to watch. D.C. prides itself on the Nationals, the Capitals, the Washington Football Team and actually has one of the few WNBA teams, the Mystics.
But GW itself is not much of a sports school. We were once decent at basketball, but we’re pretty bad at this point. Some of our other teams are actually good, though. Consistently, our water sports like swimming and water polo excel every year. If you’re not interested in a varsity sport, there are a range of club teams you can join spanning from ultimate frisbee to cross country.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Hannah Thacker and contributing opinions editor Andrew Sugrue, based on discussions with managing director Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, managing editor Parth Kotak, sports editor Emily Maise, culture editor Anna Boone and design editor Olivia Columbus.
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