Nearly 6,000 prospective undergraduates and their families expected to visit campus in April.
Jack Morton Auditorium buzzed with apprehensive chatter Monday morning. A group of prospective Colonials had just learned they were there to listen to a lecture from Professor Danny Hayes’ “Intro to American Politics” course.
“And after the lecture, we have some computers set up in the lobby where you’ll all be taking a test,” teased Touran Waters, director of undergraduate admissions communication at the George Washington University.
But a comical Dr. Hayes quickly calmed the high school students’ nerves when he took the stage to discuss whether Americans’ media choices are shaped by their political views.
“We want to start by thinking about the big event of yesterday. A lot of us have probably been waiting months—some years, even—and sort of imagining, when will this actually happen? So we all know what we’re talking about,” he said, “Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel finally had their first child.”
Students erupted with laughter as images of the celebrity parents flashed on the screen behind him.
“Some of you may also know,” Dr. Hayes continued, “that some person named Hillary Clinton announced that she will run for the Democratic nomination.”
Dr. Hayes’ sample lecture was part of a series of events intended to introduce newly admitted Colonials to life at GW. Five Admitted Student Days, called “Inside GW,” are expected to bring more than 6,000 students and their families to the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses to help them decide, ultimately, whether they want to call GW “home” during their college career.
Danny Hayes, associate professor of political science, gives a sample lecture to students admitted to the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in the Jack Morton Auditorium on Monday.
Monday’s “Inside GW” kicked off in the Charles E. Smith Center, where Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton welcomed visitors and highlighted the admitted students’ accomplishments and career goals. Among the Class of 2019—selected from 19,780 applicants—one student aspires to be a trauma surgeon, another a writer for Jimmy Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres, while one hopes to become a photojournalist for National Geographic.
“Suffice to say you are all hardworking, passionate, ambitious and ready to change the world,” Ms. Felton said.
She emphasized the university’s hands-on teaching approach, which she said students would experience from the moment they step on campus.
“It’s really about giving students the chance to get their hands dirty,” Ms. Felton said. “Many think of us as a great place for political science or the social sciences, more broadly. And we are absolutely a great place to study that. However, regardless of academic discipline, students will augment their formal classroom experiences with extraordinary opportunities that come from our network of internships, service learning opportunities and access to policy-changing research.”
Throughout the day, undergraduate volunteers wearing bright yellow shirts led students and their families to different sessions across the Foggy Bottom Campus. Prospective Colonials met with deans, toured Science and Engineering Hall, ate lunch on the Mount Vernon Campus and took part in “speed mingling” at the Marvin Center, where they had the chance to discover common interests with future classmates and current students.
Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton takes a selfie in the Smith Center after welcoming admitted students and their families to GW.
During a conversation led by Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski, five current students talked about managing time while in college, building relationships with professors, securing internships and finding their niches on campus.
When asked to share their “Only at GW” moments, Eric Beeler, a freshman in the Elliott School of International Affairs, talked about his first Thanksgiving spent in Washington, D.C. After he realized that it would be too expensive to travel home for the holiday, he received an email from Diane Knapp asking him to join her, George Washington President Steven Knapp and their family at the F Street house for their Thanksgiving meal.
“My Snapchat story that night was on point,” he said. “But really, it was incredible. The support that is given to me as a student at GW is remarkable.”
The day ended with a Class of 2019 Colonial Bash outside on the Marvin Center terrace. Students reunited with the parents and swapped stories with new friends as they enjoyed ice cream and the warm, cloudless spring day.
Apsara Sankar, a high school senior from Columbus, Ohio, admitted to the GW School of Business, said that her visit to GW helped her imagine what it would be like to attend the university. She especially likes the pairing of Foggy Bottom’s downtown location and the more suburban Mount Vernon Campus.
“You’re in the middle of the city, but walking around campus last night, I felt completely safe,” Ms. Sankar said. “I feel like GW offers everything you could possibly want. It’s really the best of both worlds.”
Lauren Vecchio, a student from Long Island also admitted to GWSB, said that she was impressed by GW’s strong sense of community.
“Everyone was so welcoming, from the tour guides, the professors and even people on the street,” Ms. Vecchio said. “It was all really genuine.”
Current students hand out buttons to prospective Colonials during the "Colonial Bash," which closed out Monday's Admitted Student Day with ice cream, music and prizes on the Marvin Center terrace.