D.C. Update

I told you we were headed to D.C. a couple weeks ago, and I thought you would be interested to know how the trip and tours turned out…

The ladies and I arrived at our hotel in D.C. late Tuesday night, after a long flight and an unsuccessful hunt for some disappearing baggage, grabbed a bite to eat and went to bed. Bright and early the next morning we prepped, breakfasted, and headed to American University (AU), some of us in the same clothes as the day before. Our visit at American began with an information session with a real-live admissions officer. We were the only ones in the session, which was not unexpected as it was May and right after graduation, until the end when a transfer student and her father wandered in to join us. The very organized, professional session began with a slideshow and short film, and was followed by a presentation by our speaker and then a question/answer period, which we most definitely took advantage of. This is what we learned:


American University

–          a mid-size, private university with a class average of 23 and a 13-1 student to teacher ratio

–          #1 on the Green Honor Roll for being the most environmentally conscious campus in the US

–          Arts and Sciences college is most popular among students

–          looking for students who want to make a difference, are highly respected by their teachers, are open-minded, who have an interest in politics and community service

–          have 146 different countries represented on their campus

–          a test optional university: which means you can choose not send in SAT/ACT scores

–          part of a consortium with Georgetown, George Washington, and University of Maryland: this means you can take classes and borrow books at any of these campuses if you are enrolled at one

–          consider academics above all else when looking at your application

–          offer many merit scholarships including the Frederick Douglas scholarship that provides a full-ride

–          they offer 165 different study abroad programs in over 45 countries, and 60% of students go abroad


After the presentation, we walked around the campus, admiring buildings and landscape and snapping photos. The campus had several painted statues of pandas and elephants in the quad area that I found especially impressive. Outside, the weather was much like Houston’s, hot and muggy, so while we felt right at home, we were ready to head to the next campus’ indoor, air-conditioned information session.

George Washington University (GW) was our next stop, and very different from AU. It is located in the heart of Washington D.C. and was hard to distinguish among the other city buildings. My first couple steps out of the cab quickly brought the blisters on my heels to my attention, so before we headed to lunch and then our tour, I grabbed a box of Band-Aids at a nearby CVS. We decided on lunch just around the corner, but quickly changed locations after meeting a roachy friend at our table. Safer, we concluded, was the coffee shop/deli across the street.

Finally, we were headed to the info session. The session was mostly full of students from a nearby high school, who came as a group with their teachers. Our bunch was corralled to the back of the room among other small groups of tourees. The presentation by a paired student and counselor was not as specific or visual as the first  and did not provide anything overtly insightful. Here’s what we did find out:


George Washington University

–          a mid-size university with about 10,000 undergrads

–          has over 125 countries represented on campus

–          International Affairs and Business are the most popular majors

–          looking for students that are community service driven

–          tuition is fixed: which means your freshman tuition price is locked in until you graduate

–          62% of students receive financial aid

–          interviews are not required but offered

–          have 2 campuses: Mount Vernon and Foggy Bottom

–          they have over 100 study abroad programs in 50 countries

–          have 400 student groups on campus and encourage students to get involved

–          they are part of the Global Language Program, which offers special tutors for languages that are not already offered on campus


That session was followed by a one-on-one student-guided tour, and Cole, our guide, was a very knowledgeable, personable guy. He explained campus housing and the story behind the school’s unofficial mascot, the hippo. Once we had paraded up and down the street, and our guide had answered all of our questions, we headed back to our hotel for dinner and sleep.

The next day was very much like the previous, with a morning meeting at a restaurant called Bread and Chocolate (delicious!) to recap and document what we had discovered about the AU and GW campuses. We then hailed a cab and headed to Georgetown.

Not too far up the road from our hotel, the Georgetown campus was immediately unlike anything we had seen at the other two universities: a tall, cathedral-like building stood just beyond the entrance gates to welcome us. Our info session contained mostly pairs of student/parents and was led by an educated, well-spoken admissions officer. This is what she shared:


Georgetown University

–          private, Jesuit university founded in 1789

–          they describe their students as passionate

–          facilitate a hugely diverse student body

–          school sustains historical sites and a ton of tradition

–          they are a need-blind university: which means they don’t take the fact that you can or cannot pay for tuition into account

–          they offer no merit scholarships

–          have a 10-1 student to teacher ratio

–          over 50% of students study abroad

–          95% of students participate in an internship before they graduate


After our session, the entire group was herded around the campus by a bubbly, brown-haired student. She showed us the numerous historical hotspots and shared anecdotes about tradition and her time at the school. After the tour was complete, we left Georgetown, conducted another meeting, and began our walk to the D.C. tourist spots. The rest of the trip involved sight-seeing, meetings, and shop-perusing. Two of us headed home Friday, and the other two followed on Saturday. Exhausted from our travels, we were all extremely grateful it was Memorial Day weekend.


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