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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Transfer students join student organizations to adjust to GW amid remote semester

Starting in mid-September, officials began offering application fee waivers to students impacted by a series of hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires that have struck parts of the U.S. and the world in recent months.

While freshmen scrambled to acclimate themselves to school, transfer students have used the semester to figure out whether they made the right choice to switch to GW amid online learning.

More than 10 students who transferred to GW this semester said they wish they could have attended in person because they have not been able to meet as many people online and already have less time to spend on campus. They said they’ve sought out student organizations matching their interests to feel part of campus and connected with peers through the Transfer Student Organization.

Five students interviewed said they are considering taking a leave of absence for the spring semester since they’ll have less time attending the University. Students said that while officials have made the process to adjust easier, they do not want to lose another year not experiencing their new school in person.

Colette Coleman, the senior associate dean of students, said New Student Orientation in August included virtual live sessions and online modules, one of which included information about academic and student support resources and community engagement.

She said the student affairs office received questions from transfers asking how to connect with other students more effectively. She said the office sent out a newsletter with virtual and in-person opportunities specifically geared toward transfer students.

“We have encouraged students to explore student organizations and to engage in the virtual opportunities presented through student life and their individual schools,” Coleman said in an email.

Skylar Korman, a sophomore from Milford, Connecticut, majoring in political science, said she previously attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and transferred to have access to political science internships in D.C. She said she will take a leave of absence next semester because she wants to ensure she can spend as much time as possible in D.C. 

“I definitely want to live in D.C., but I also want to get an experience of living at GW in D.C., not just getting an apartment,” Korman said. “I feel like the professors have a lot to offer, and it would definitely be easier to create a relationship with them if we were in person.”

She added that the University has helped advise transfer students, saying she met twice with a THRIVE GW mentor assigned to her at orientation who has helped her adjust to GW. She said the president of the Transfer Student Organization also placed all the new transfer students into a GroupMe at the start of the semester, which made her feel more connected with those in the same boat as her.

Amira Shehadeh, a sophomore from South Florida majoring in sports and event management, said she felt that everyone was always “fending for themselves” at American University and wanted more “accessible” professors willing to listen to her academic and personal concerns. She said although her first semester at GW has been online, she’s felt her professors are more approachable and that the GW community has made her feel welcome. 

Shehadeh said she has joined several student organizations, like the Sports Business Association, Marketing Association and GW Women in Business, which have allowed her to make connections with students who share similar interests.

“Aside from the academics, which I feel are definitely at a higher caliber, I also feel I’m making more connections through the orgs that I’m in,” Shehadeh said. “I feel like at AU I was in Women in Business, but it wasn’t as welcoming and inclusive as GWIB is. So that’s a big difference that I’ve seen a lot because that’s something that I really wanted to get involved in at AU but didn’t have the opportunity to.”

Camille Lamb, a sophomore from Cleveland majoring in economics, said she transferred from the University of Colorado Boulder because she wanted to move to a school where students would be more “diverse” and “supportive” of her. She said acclimating to a new school during virtual instruction has made her feel like she is a freshman again because she doesn’t know many other students and is unfamiliar with GW offices and procedures, like how to schedule appointments with academic advisers.

Lamb said she is considering taking a leave of absence in the spring because she wants to guarantee that she is spending “as much time as possible” in person in the District and exploring her new university. 

“I feel like I’m in the same boat as freshmen right now just because I don’t know anyone,” Lamb said. “The hardest part has been just trying to meet people. It’s definitely harder to do that online.”

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