I think GW is a great place for people who are self-starting, motivated individuals with grand aspirations for the future. It is a tough place for kids who need a lot of hand-holding of people who don't like a fast-paced, competitive environment. There is not a strong sense of community in the University as a whole, but that's why students trend so heavily into student activities, groups, sports, Greek life, or internships. Social life revolves heavily around the Greek scene, but this can be avoided by immersing yourself in whatever you are passionate about. The school is a great size, and the Vern campus allows for people who want a smaller-school feel. I would change the presence of Greek life because I do think it dominates the weekends and makes it hard to have gatherings of people that don't get out of control. People react differently to my attendance of GW depending on where they are from-- People from New Hampshire think it's like Harvard, GW professors think it's extremely competitive, but some Georgetown affiliates joke that it's not as competitive as Georgetown. Some people who aren't from the East Coast have never heard of GW. Most DC networks are familiar and impressed with GW as an institution and it will make it easier for students to get internships. It's not a college town (the city itself) but it's a college neighborhood-- GW dominates Foggy Bottom and has a strong campus feel. DC itself even becomes a college city because students spend so much time at the monuments, the museums, and city events. There's not a lot of school pride when it comes to sports except for men's basketball-- having no contact sports diminishes the support for the sports program in general (I think). One recent controversy on campus was moving the Honors Program Townhouse to the Vern campus, and we had town hall meetings to decide what would be done. I think the administration can be quite bureaucratic, but with perseverance it can be navigated and end up pulling lots of strings because it's so well connected. I spend lots of time on campus in the library, which has great study spaces, and I am always finding new places to spend time. One unusual thing about GW is the fact that it is directly in DC, so close to the White House and the Washington Monument that jogging actually becomes a pleasant experience because each run can be a tour of the nation's capitol. Being late for class because you had to wait for the Motorcade puts your own life in perspective. You meet politicians and celebrities on the street. I will always remember seeing Obama looking out the window of his Suburban as the motorcade went by one night. The most frequent complaints are about J Street food, though it's much better than in the past, and about the abundant construction on campus.
The best thing about GW is that its in a good part of DC. I mean Georgetown is in a good part of DC, but the school sits in a residential area and is kind of isolated on a hill. GW is in the thick of things, right in downtown near the mall, near offices (if you land an internship), near good restaurants, near the metro (subway), and better or worse, GW took over the neighborhood where people used to live so there are lots of students mixed in with working folks. We're not an isolated entity, but there are times when the residents of Foggy Bottom wish we were, like Thursday nights through Sunday Morning. Catholic is in the hood, Howard is in a hood that is undergoing substantial gentrification, American is isolated, but they have metro. People say that GW is a good school, usually because they don't know much about it. If they do know anything about it, they know that its expensive as hell. Its not like Georgetown which has immediate name recognition and reputation, so whatever. I spend most of my time on campus in either my place or a friend's place. Its not like there are any places that students just hang out in, though GW has tried to create that in the Hippodrome. I refer to GW's "college town" as GWorld (also the name of our ID cards). Its not just limited to Foggy Bottom, but GWorld is the totality of everything that is GW. Pentagon City Mall is part of GWorld, Dupont Circle clubs and bars, Adams Morgan bars and clubs, Georgetown bars and clubs. There are places that people will go and say "oh I know DC", but really DC is so much bigger than their concept of the city. GWorld is a mindset that if you go further than three stops away on the metro, its not worth going to. Students will hardly ever venture outside of NW DC, and will seldom discover some things even in NW like Tenleytown, which is on Wisconsin Ave, but beyond Georgetown. They will go to Adams Morgan, but not Cleveland Park, or down U Street. GWorld is buying an Ipod on your GWorld, or having a $400 impulse buy at Coach on a Tuesday afternoon with daddy's credit card. GWorld is getting EmerGed and not getting in trouble because your mother who is a lawyer in Jersey called to "smooth things over". GWorld is the complete lack of real-world consequenses because we keep ourselves insulated to our concept of "college life". Karl Rove was the biggest controversy on campus lately, but this is being rivaled by the commencement speaker who is equally polarizing on the other side of the political arena. Most people at GW are "too cool" for school pride.
I love GW, but I also know people who don't so will give reasons for both sides. Positives: Being at GW you have a world of opportunities at your feet. For starters you are in the heart of DC with the white house, the IMF building and needless to say a million internship and job opportunities at your feet. Being in a city has so many advantages 24/7 restaurants, convenient stores... Shopping galore, phone stores, studying abroad? every embassy is here. DC itself is such a great city as wel. It's one of the most unique cities I've ever visited. Major events and celebrations happen on the mall once a month at least. My favorite is Earth Day. The people you can find at this city and this school are so international, so unique, so different. It's amazing. GW truley does value a diverse community and that is apparent in all your class discussions, all parties, even shopping in the grocery store. The going out scene here is legit. No matter what you like it's here. Clubs for the dancers, frat parties for everyone to enjoy, bars in the city (that I've heard of people getting into with fakes), ice skating downtown for sober fun. There are even a bunch of house parties around cause of all the kids that live "off campus" (off campus being two blocks down) Best memory: storming the white house when Obama won tied with DC's epic snowball fight during SNowmagedon 2009 Negatives: some people complain that there's little school spirit here. We have a basketball team that's pretty big but there's little following besides those who are directly involved. There are a few other sports but unless you know someone on the team your not likely to go out for a game, especially when most of GW sports are on GWs second campus which is a school bus drive away. I think the best kind of person to suit GW is an independent one. If you're the kind of person that relies a lot on your parents, or gets scared of big cities and crowds of people, and the idea of looking for a job in a huge city is overwhelming, this maybe isnt the school for you. Not to say it couldnt be but people who love and flourish in this school are those that get excited by those things previously mentioned. GW is expensive as shit! and there's a lot of controversy surrounding presidents and board members getting overpaid. For how much GW costs there's def a case for not getting the bang for your buck students deserve.
I love GWU. I transferred here from another school (University of Mary Washington) and that gives me a different level of appreciation. People often complain that GWU only wants money, that it is a real estate company that happens to have classes. I think GWU is doing what it can to still make a profit in an incredibly expensive city, and it hasn't done anything wrong (or different from any other schools). Yeah it's expensive, but I'm on a full ride and there IS financial aid out there if you need it! GWU is a very different sort of school, and is definitely not for everyone. If you are looking for good ol' fashioned school pride and a football game, go elsewhere. People here are proud of GWU, but more so they have pride in their organizations such as College Democrats or 14th Grade Players (theater) or Organization of Latin American States and they are incredibly involved and invested into these orgs. What makes GWU great to me is that it gives you a real world experience (in terms of the real intellectual/political elite experience of DC....sadly not a "real world" experience for many residents). There are no RA's watching your every move, no cafeteria you have to eat three meals a day at (two things I hated at my old school) and nearly everyone has a job or an internship off campus. Campus itself is fluid....the IMF, World Bank and State Department are a part of our "campus". So is Miriam's Kitchen, a soup kitchen and art therapy center for the homeless. We have our own Metro stop and I commute to my internship with some of DC's finest. Today I walked to the Smithsonians to hear a lecture than stopped by the Occupy DC movement to see what was going on. Students here work hard and play hard (GW loves to party, but mostly in DC clubs). GWU is competitive, intense, involved, and unlike any other school. There is always a helping hand when you need it, but no one is going to baby you. It is what you make of it. You can join a sorority and party, or be a part of a Christian organization and be involved with local churches. But one this is for sure, this is a DC school, and you have to be a city kid to truly love it. I adore GWU. I have had amazing opportunities here, whether it be interacting with the incredibly international student body, have a number of different internships or just seeing Obama at a basketball game. GWU for life!
Overall, I am happy with GW. The best thing for me is the location. I am able to experience so much in such close proximity. I can visit the Smithsonian, the monuments, and take can classes at the GW hospital. Even though GW is not an enclosed campus, it owns everything in this area, and I never feel as though I am not surrounded by GW students. The school is also the perfect size for me, as I always pass people I know just walking to class but I also meet new people all the time. People typically react favorably to the school as it has a good national standing. One thing I would change is the amount of school spirit. I was on the cheer team my freshman year and watching people leave halfway through the basketball game because the team isn't doing well is depressing. The administration is great at working with you although they aren't particularly expedient. Usually any need that you have they will try to accommodate. The biggest controversy on campus is often hazing in Greek Life, and some fraternities and sororities have gotten kicked off of campus for it. I am part of a sorority, however, and have never experienced that. We are often surrounded by national controversy given our location, however, as rallies and such often happen in this area. That I see as a positive because it usually is not difficult to find people passionate and willing to fight for the same things you are. The experience I will always remember is a counter protest against the Westminster Baptist Church where hundreds of students were wearing shirts that said "I'm Gay for Today." I think it showed GW's willingness to be involved beyond the scope of their own environment. The most frequent student complaint is usually the food. It is extremely expensive and the dining plan usually runs out.
The best thing about GW is it's location. We have a metro stop right on campus which makes the rest of the city extremely accessible. You can get to most places in the city via metro, and if not then you can also take the metro bus. Other schools such as American and Georgetown will say that the city is really easy to get to, but it usually takes at least 45 minutes to really get anywhere. The schools size is just right for me. I can always meet new people if I am becoming sick of my friends or want to branch out. At the same time, I can be sure to see a friendly face every day. People do eventually branch off into smaller groups, but it is not hard to infiltrate them because there are so many different activities and ways to join in. That being said, one thing that is bad about the school being so large is the Administration. Students are assigned at GWID which is their lettered and numbered ID and unless you really work to branch out to professors, you will remain a nameless ID the entire time you are at the school. I am an English major so I am fortunate enough to have small, intimate classes, but from the science classes I have taken, you can go an entire semester without ever speaking with your professor. Come exam time, if you have an issue, they won't even know your name. The best thing about this school is that it seems like if you take enough initiative, you can get most anything done. There are many ambitious people here and there are so many opportunities that the city provides. I feel as if this is one of the best schools you can go to to learn how to become an adult because really, everything is in your hands, unlike small and sheltered schools in more rural areas.
The best thing about GW is the diversity. Almost every student has some sort of international experience to tell about or have an interesting story behind where they grew up. One thing to possibly change would be the size, which is quite big so at first it is hard to meet people if you are not a "social butterfly." Joining clubs, groups or Greek life definitely are a great way to cut the size down. Of course the price of the school is a big issue for many people because it is one of the most pricey in the country, but there is a great deal of aid as well as job opportunity. The location of the school is great for those who want to be in the city. While GW has somewhat of a "campus," the city of DC definitely bleeds into campus and vise versa. It is easy to get around the city by metro, bus or on foot. The monuments are walking distance, clubs and shopping are a metro ride away and everything else is accessible by bus. Unfortunately, there isn't very much school pride in terms of sports. Our basketball team gets little recognition and other sports teams hardly get spectators. However, thats not to say that there is no pride among the students to attend games or wear school paraphernalia. Sports just aren't really a big part of the campus life, so it is likely that you'll be friends with someone from the crew team or the lacrosse team and think little of it.
George Washington is a very strange kind of school, where I can honestly say that FEW students are truly happy. The only students that thrive there are kids who already know others in the city, are very rich and into Greek life, or resign themselves to WEIRD lives on the Vern. Everyone on the Vern is very typical of the Vern, and normal people know to stay away. Almost everyone I know transferred, is transferring, or has thought of transferring. The only people who stay are people who are too lazy to transfer, or had such lame high school lives they don't even know that George Washington doesn't offer a normal college nightlife. The classes aren't bad, the location is fine if you want to live in DC (though I would NEVER recommend living in DC), but the people are what ruin it. Furthermore, most of them are not even intelligent but kids who just worked hard or bought their way in. I was horrified by the incredibly low degree of discussion in the classes. People even in the International Affairs school barely knew ANYTHING about world affairs and struggled with the most simple facts and concepts. It was nothing short of embarrassing. I was honestly embarrassed I had considered George Washington a good school. In the end, the fact is that you're not going to like this school. Basically no one does.
Living in Washington D.C. has been such a wonderful/scary/insane time that I wouldn't trade for the world. Hearing and seeing motorcades drive past my window every other day still gives my goosebumps and makes my mother scream over the phone. If you are looking to truly feel like a "grown up" but still be considered a "student," GW is the place for you. The internships one can gain here range from working within the State Department, National Peace Corp building, to even walking around that big white house just 3 blocks away. The possibilities are endless and your future is almost guaranteed to look bright. Campus life is also great, although I personally am not involved with Greek life or that many organizations, there are always opportunities for students to get involved. I love that there is no pressure to either go Greek or have no social life, everybody kind of drums to their beat and meets people who dance to the same tune along the way. I spend a lot of my time studying in our 8 floor library but always make time to fit in a good midnight monument walk or stroll along the Georgetown waterfront. Everything is right at your fingertips here at GW, but its your job to grab as much as you can within 4 years!
GWU is a great school on paper. Everyone can recognize it as an excellent university. When i tell people I go to GW they assume that I am smart and wealthy to pay for it. I love the school and its accesibility to DC and everything DC has to offer. The students that attend GW are a breed of their own. Students at GW are the most driven college kids I have ever met. I am light years ahead of my friends from home because I attend GW. It is very cut throat, students love to talk about their internships and one up eachother on them. The faculty at GW is very credible, I am in the SMPA and I love each and every one of my teachers. They are absoutely brillant. I think there is a lack of school spirit for some reason. The morale of the school is low, for a reason I can not pinpoint. It could jsut be because a lot of the students are just into themselves, doing their own thing, and dont like to conform. I wish we had more land, and more grassy areas, but thats what you get for going to school in the city.