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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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As GW expands international outreach, a growing focus on parents

Freshman Alejandro Tavera said he was surprised when an admissions officer invited him and his parents to dinner shortly after he decided to attend GW.

Tavera, who went to high school in Santiago, Chile and recently moved to Dallas, Texas, said the admissions officer reassured his parents that GW would be a good match for their son.

“He told us ‘Your kids are in great hands,'” said Tavera, who was born in Mexico.

As the University’s international student population continues to soar, GW is stepping up its outreach to those students – and their parents – to help them make the leap into American academic life.

For the first time, the Office of Parent Services partnered with the International Services Office this year to offer round-the-clock support in all time zones, with programs like videos and webinars about housing and career services.

While many parents of international speak English, a cultural gap still sometimes divides parents and GW, said Rodney Johnson, the director of GW’s parent services office.

The University’s parent advisory council will also set aside spots for international parents for the first time this year, Johnson said.

Andy Sonn, assistant vice president of student and academic support services, said international parents have many of the same questions as U.S. parents, such as wanting to know how career services work. But they also want to know about their son or daughter’s legal visa status.

Sonn said the increased services were prompted by the University’s efforts to globalize.

GW is aiming to increase its international undergraduate population to 15 percent within the next decade. International students, who bring diversity to the campus and typically pay full tuition, are a key demographic for GW.

Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said the University must also think about how it informs parents who live abroad during emergencies like last week’s deadly shooting at Navy Yard.

“There’s a crisis in D.C. and you want to know what GW is doing, and we want to make sure we’re providing the information,” he said. “And part of that is we are going to have to think, ‘Does it have to be in different languages or does it have to be put out in a way that is easily understandable?'”

Freshman Ellis Yarboi, whose parents live in Ghana, said his family had not heard about the shooting until he told them himself. He said his parents get most of their information about GW from emails, which hit inboxes later that day.

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