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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Staff editorial: GW can reverse sudden decline in cross-school studies

GW was once committed to the idea of academic and interdisciplinary exploration — the University has a decade of growth in cross-school studying to show for it. But that progress, a clear way to promote intellectual curiosity in students and diversify the school’s focuses, has dropped off: Cross-school studying declined 30 percent this past year.

Amid the lowest rate of cross-school studying that GW has seen since 2016, it seems the cost of tuition and extra credit hour fees may be preventing students from pursuing a cross-school education and exploring academics to their fullest potential. Undergraduates are being funneled down a narrower path because branching out in their studies isn’t as accessible as it should be.

Between a whopping $64,700 tuition for the 2023-24 academic year and additional fees for exceeding credit limits, students looking to broaden their focus face serious barriers. GW ranked 35th on the list of most expensive colleges in the U.S. in 2022, and tuition is already set to increase by $2,720 for the 2024-25 academic year.

GW charges most undergraduates an additional $2,170 per credit hour after they reach the 18-credit-hour limit. The majority of the courses offered at GW are at least three credits, which means it costs $6,510 to add a single class to the schedule. Students enrolled in multiple schools where course requirements don’t overlap often need to exceed the 18-credit cap, and those expenses add up quickly.

GW also charges more money for fewer credits compared to other D.C. schools. While Georgetown University appears to charge more for individual credits, it doesn’t cap students until 20 credits. And while American University also caps credits at 18 per semester, it charges less per additional credit taken than GW. Not to mention both schools’ annual tuitions are considerably less expensive than GW — by more than $25,000.

GW claims to provide an all-encompassing educational experience, balancing both professional and liberal arts degrees and requiring students to take GPAC requirements that ensure they develop abilities that “transcend disciplinary boundaries.” But instead of nurturing intellectual curiosity and interdisciplinary collaboration, GW risks prioritizing financial gain over the holistic development of its students.

Provost Chris Bracey said this drop in cross-school studying may be because students are becoming “narrowly focused,” but the situation is more chicken-and-egg. GW students might not be so narrowly focused after all, especially when tuition costs and credit fees pile up quickly, preventing students from pursuing additional majors and minors across schools.

Experts in higher education administration and interdisciplinary studies have linked both tuition costs and a national STEM focus to the recent drop in students pursuing majors across schools — a reality that is currently unfolding at GW.

Students and faculty criticized former University President Thomas LeBlanc’s 20/30 Plan, which aimed to make STEM majors the largest educational focus at GW. LeBlanc’s plan was never implemented since undergraduate enrollment dropped during COVID-19. Now, though, the University runs the risk of accidentally fulfilling LeBlanc’s dreams of an unbalanced STEM-student majority, particularly as undergraduates grow weary of tuition costs and slink away from a liberal arts education.

The mounting financial burden on students demands action. The University needs to evaluate what it’s asking of its undergraduate students, especially when their education choices boil down to fiscal barriers.

GW wants to be a trailblazer in higher education — that begins with fostering a culture of intellectual exploration and interdisciplinary collaboration. This University has a responsibility to make diverse educational experiences accessible to all students. Whether through increasing credit hour caps or decreasing additional credit fees, something has to give.

The editorial board consists of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s staff editorial was written by Editorials Assistant Paige Baratta, based on discussions with Contributing Culture Editor Jenna Baer, Opinions Editor Ethan Benn, Contributing Social Media Director Anaya Bhatt, Contributing Opinions Editor Riley Goodfellow and Social Media Director Ethan Valliath.

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