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The GW Hatchet

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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Sunik Kim: Want to switch colleges? You should get to make your case

If you’re applying to GW but aren’t sure if your test scores will make the grade, you’re in luck: You can schedule an interview with an alumnus or admissions officer.

GW tells students that these scheduled conversations can only benefit them. But here’s what the University is leaving out: Current students transferring between GW’s colleges typically don’t have that option.

A student interested in transferring from the Elliott School of International Affairs to the School of Media and Public Affairs, for example, is required to fill out a form and submit a GPA. But an interview could help him or her genuinely convey their interest in the program in ways that won’t come across in black and white.

There’s a chance to make this change soon. The University’s 10-year strategic plan, finalized in May, will bring a change to the admissions process. All students will be admitted to GW, not specific schools, and students can pick what course of study they want to pursue once they are admitted.

Forrest Maltzman, senior vice provost for academic affairs and planning, told me details on the switch are still being worked out, but that administrators “want to remove as many barriers as possible for [students] to switch schools.”

But there’s one big reason why applying to a college within GW could still be a headache. The University will allow students to choose “pre-majors” like international affairs, journalism and engineering so colleges can still market to their niches.

Ultimately, the decision to make internal transfers less complicated by funneling all undergraduates into “GW” as opposed to specific schools will alleviate some burdens.

But if the goal is to make switching schools as easy and fair as possible for already-admitted students, Maltzman and others who are involved with carrying out the strategic plan should make sure that interviews are part of the process.

It’s a way to boost applications and give applicants a chance to fully express the stories that their essays and GPAs can’t always tell.

Job interviews exist for companies to get to know applicants in person. It makes sense for admissions officers to offer interviews for the same reason. They are a chance for students to express their sincerity in their intention to transfer. It gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their interpersonal communication skills, which are essential in all fields and academic disciplines, but won’t shine through on a transfer form or even in an essay.

Besides, college students often change their major – and likely even their “pre-major.” Sometimes, freshmen are not sure what their interests really are or what types of opportunities a degree will bring upon graduation. It makes sense, then, that GW allows students to transfer between its undergraduate schools – and makes this process as easy as possible.

Since administrators have demonstrated the value and importance of interviews by making them an optional part of the application process for prospective students, they should make sure this opportunity is not denied to current students who might have a change of plans.

The writer is a sophomore in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

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