It’s a pretty cool feeling, right? Well, now you have a lot of learning to do. We’ve put together a bit of what to expect about life in Foggy Bottom and at GW. There’s more to it than just living a few blocks from the White House.
You can wear your Colonials gear with pride. The men’s basketball team is good again.
It’s been a rough few years for GW men’s basketball. While the team was a perennial Atlantic 10 contender last decade, current seniors have grimaced through a combined 40-52 record the last three seasons.
That all looks like it’s changing. The Colonials are the hottest team in the D.C. area, knocking off Maryland, Creighton and Miami en route to a 9-1 start. GW is now considered one of the top five teams in the A-10, and could lock up a NCAA Tournament bid if they stay strong when conference play starts next month. Yes, it’s still early, but keep an eye on the Colonials throughout the spring as they play several games on national or regional television.
Thinking about rushing? About one-third of the undergraduate population is in Greek life.
This is one part of GW that surprises many freshmen. While most top urban schools like New York University and Boston University have tiny Greek life populations, about one-third of GW undergrads are in fraternities or sororities.
GW has fall and spring rush – the two weeks when you can go check out fraternities and sororities.
More questions? This video may have your answers.
There will be more than $500 million of new building space that opens over your four years.
So you were admitted to GW in December 2013. By the time you graduate, campus will look pretty different. In fact, there will be more than $500 million worth of construction projects completed by the time you graduate in 2018.
1. Spring 2014: $75 million School of Public Health and Health Services building
It’ll be the first time the public health school is housed under one roof – a milestone for a college raking in research money.
2. Fall 2014: $33 million GW Museum
The GW Museum mostly elicits eye rolls from students, though the largest gift in the University’s history is helping to fund it.
3. Winter 2015: $275 million Science and Engineering Hall
This is GW’s shining star. The most expensive building in the University’s history will look to bolster its second-tier science and engineering programs and create a better research environment.
4. Fall 2016: $130 million Square 77 a.k.a. the ‘superdorm’
You, the Class of 2018, could be one of the first students to live in this mega-hall that will include restaurants, study space and three merged residence halls in the heart of campus.
5. TBD: New student health center
This was the Student Association’s big win this year. University President Steven Knapp committed to moving the health and counseling centers to campus. It won’t be cheap and we don’t know where yet. Tompkins Hall? Marvin Center? We’ll probably know by the summer.
Scandal, scandal and “Scandal.”
Don’t worry, GW is ranked in the U.S. News & World Report top colleges list again after a year’s absence. But just as the University dusted off that scandal, administrators got in a bit more hot water.
First, there was the very public firing of former GW School of Business dean Doug Guthrie. He overspent the college’s budget by $13 million. Then, top officials and professors got in one of the most dramatic games of he-said-she-said that you’ll see in higher education. There was talk of slander, sex and illegal financial deals. (All was false, according to GW.)
Then, there was another admissions scandal. It turns out that like many private colleges, GW had been waitlisting students who could not pay full tuition, while accepting students who could. The trouble was that top officials had said otherwise for years.
But on a positive note, “Scandal” star Kerry Washington is a proud alumna. She also delivered a pretty great Commencement speech last May. And yes, GW puts on one of the best graduation ceremonies in the country, renting out the National Mall for a morning for thousands of departing Colonials.
There’s a big gay, lesbian and bisexual population here.
You’ve probably heard it: Gay Double Jew. No? Thirty percent of GW students are Jewish (the fifth highest rate for U.S. universities). But the University is also pretty well-known for its sizeable gay population.
We had gender-neutral housing before it was cool. GW had the first transgender athlete in NCAA Division 1 history, Kye Allums, who came out on the women’s basketball team in 2010. Pretty much everyone freaked out when the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8. And even LGBT faculty and administrators share their coming out stories.
Plus, the largest LGBT student org, Allied in Pride, organized a drag show for straight fraternity members last year. Watch the action below.
Most politically active, and most lean left.
Maybe you applied to GW because of how politically driven students are. Princeton Review called us the most politically active school this year, after all. District politics is woven so deeply into the fabric of GW that it’s become a meme, a hashtag and an entire brand. #OnlyAtGW refers to waking up to presidential motorcades and running to the White House on election night (which is a thing, by the way.)
When you break it down, it might not be a surprise that most students and faculty are liberal. Two-thirds of students supported Obama last election and professors overwhelmingly donated to the president.
There are two major on-campus concerts each year: Fall Fest and Spring Fling.
Here’s what it’s like to go to one.
Oh, and Macklemore took a selfie when he played at GW and it won “selfie of the year.”#OnlyAtGW (for real this time).
Your new food pyramid will probably include a lot of Chipotle.
The booming Foggy Bottom dining scene is your new dining hall. You won’t hear many good things about J Street – where you have to spend a chunk of dining dollars freshman year – but eateries like Chipotle, Whole Foods, Sweetgreen and Burger Tap and Shake will tempt you.
There are a lot of food trucks too. One of the best, GW students would say, is CapMac. There was an emotional farewell to the mac-and-cheese food truck this fall, but it appears they’ll soon be under new management.
You’ve heard scary things about the Vern. You’ve heard scary things about Thurston. What’s that all about?
In the spring, it’s going to be time to pick your residence hall. Since you’re Early Decision 1, you get first dibs. Most ED1ers wind up picking Potomac or Lafayette halls, but 84-year-old Thurston Hall houses more than 1,100 freshmen each year and the Mount Vernon Campus is home to a few hundreds first-year Colonials too.
So yes, while you may have written in your college essay about wanting to experience the vibrant urban life of GW, you could be about a 20-minute bus ride away in a suburban, green neighborhood. With a renovated residence hall and academic buildings there, the Vern is becoming more of a destination for GW kids, but can still be a pain. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself.
And to squash the rumors, no, Thurston was not named the most sexually active dorm in the U.S. It’s not the nicest residence hall GW has, but there is a cool basement study area and plenty of opportunities to meet new people. It’s a GW rite of passage.
Yes, GW has a very high tuition sticker price. No, that doesn’t make it a ‘rich-kid school.’ But yes, affordability is still a big issue.
You’ve probably heard it from your parents, friends, extended relatives. ‘GW? That’s the really expensive school, right?’
Let’s get one thing straight: Universities are nonprofit businesses that run mostly on your tuition dollars.
But the University made itself the poster child for sky-high tuition prices six years ago when it was the first to pass the $50,000-a-year threshold. GW is no longer in the tip-top echelon of most-expensive colleges, but its reputation follows it. The Washington Post published a damning story about GW’s “Great Gatsby” reputation last spring. And GW’s former president told The Atlantic last year that he priced GW’s tuition so high because, like high-priced vodka, it creates the “illusion of quality.
But there are reasons GW deserves some credit lately: It has poured money into financial aid and looked to cut costs to fund more scholarships. There’s also the fixed-tuition policy for undergraduates, which prevents students from having to shell out 3 to 5 percent more each year.
And that whole need-blind scandal? Being need-aware actually lets GW fund a fuller portion of students’ financial need, administrators say. The University meets an average of about 88 percent of a student’s demonstrated need, compared to New York University, which meets just 55 percent even though it does not consider financial need in the admissions process.
If you study international affairs or business, you’ll be going with the crowd.
Don’t have your major picked out? That’s okay, plenty of freshmen come in without a major declared. Here were the top five subjects GW students studied last year, according to internal data:
1. International affairs (2,026)
2. Pre-business administration (725)
3. Political science (375)
4. Psychology (325)
5. Economics (284)
What have people been reading?
You don’t want to be behind the times when you step on campus next fall. Here’s our most-read stories of 2013:
1. GW misrepresented admissions, financial aid policy for years
2. Students mobilize to remove priest
3. A hot dog man, an allegation and a disappearance
4. Doug Guthrie out as business school dean
5. Manouch accused of sexual abuse
6. Law faculty plotted to oust dean
7. Top faculty leader accused of slander attack against Doug Guthrie
8. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to headline Spring Fling
9. The sham friendships of Greek life
10. GW to crack down on students throwing parties in off-campus townhouses
One last question: How do I join The Hatchet?
Every fall, freshmen can apply to be Hatchet reporters, photographers, videographers, designers, coders and developers. Here’s a little more info about us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have other questions and make sure to sign up in the fall!
This story was updated Dec. 19 at 8:46 p.m. to reflect the news that CapMac lives after all.