First Year Experience

Congratulations on your acceptance to GW, and welcome to the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the necessary terms and deadlines as you prepare for your first year at GW!


Key Terms

  • Academic Advisor: A professional staff member in the Office of Undergraduate Studies who assists students with course selection and academic decision making appropriate to their personal, professional and academic needs and goals. Learn more and find your academic advisor.
  • CCAS: Established in 1821, CCAS is one of the 5 main undergraduate schools and the original college of liberal arts and sciences at GW. CCAS is the largest of GW’s schools with over 60 majors and minors and the largest number of undergraduate students. The Corcoran School of Arts and Design and the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) are both part of CCAS.
  • GPAC: The general education curriculum of The Columbian College, which educates students to engage in active intellectual inquiry by developing analytical skills, communication skills and diverse perspectives. Learn more about GPAC requirements.
  • POD: POD stands for Place of Discovery and it is the advising model we use in CCAS. There are three PODs in CCAS and students are assigned to an advising team based on the first letter of your last name: POD 1 (A-G), POD 2 (H-N), POD 3 (O-Z). When you email the POD for advising related questions, you may get a response from anyone on the team, however, you will also be assigned an advisor within the POD in your first semester at GW.
  • Prerequisite: Course(s), or course content mastery, which must be completed prior to taking subsequent courses in an academic discipline.
  • Transfer Credit: Credits not earned at GW. Can be divided in pre-matriculation (taken before coming to GW) and post-matriculation (taken after coming to GW).

View Full Glossary

Common Topics

Meet one-on-one with your academic advisor

Incoming first year students can make one-on-one appointments after completing the pre-orientation online module and attending a first year group advising webinar.

Your assigned academic advisor

CCAS Advising works in a POD model, meaning that you will be assigned a specific advisor in your first semester, but you can also meet with any of the advisors in your POD. As you complete your orientation module and first year group advising webinars, we encourage you to direct questions to your advising POD via email.

Class registration

First year students register in two hour blocks which they register for using their admission portal. From your second semester on, we use a tiered registration model based on earned credits. The registrar’s office has a detailed video showing you How to Register and utilize the Plan Ahead.

Declaring your major

All CCAS students (with the exception of SMPA and Corcoran students) enter as undeclared majors. Students can declare as early as their first semester, or wait and take exploratory courses if they are uncertain of their intended major. We just ask that you declare no later than the end of your sophomore year. You have over 60 majors and minors to choose from in CCAS, but you can also double major/minor outside of CCAS while keeping CCAS as your home school.

New Student Orientation

New Student Orientation is an event held for students across the university prior to matriculation. New Student Orientation occurs in the summer up to the start of your first semester. CCAS Advising offers some summer programming and will continue throughout your entire time at GW, including the CCAS 1001 First Year Experience class. For orientation-specific information visit the NSO website or contact the Orientation Team at [email protected]

CCAS 1001

CCAS 1001 is a 1-credit extended orientation course required for all incoming first years in the College of Arts and Sciences. The class meets once a week for 50 minutes and it is required for all incoming first year students, effective Fall 2022.

The course is offered Pass/No Pass, which is a grade mode designated when a course is taken for credit but not for a letter grade. A grade of D‐ or higher is considered a Pass for undergraduate courses.

This course provides an exciting opportunity to reflect on your own identities, strengths and values; understand what it means to have a liberal arts education, navigate campus resources available at GW, explore majors and minors, develop a four‐year academic plan, build a resume, and increase career‐based knowledge.

The course will help you transition to college, make friends with other CCAS first years, and learn all that GW has to offer!

CCAS 1001 is taught by GW advisors, faculty, and staff, and we look forward to working with you in the classroom! 

Events and Workshops

The First Year Experience Team is excited to offer workshops and events throughout the year.

Register for an Upcoming Event/Workshop

Upcoming Events

Events will be posted when scheduled.

Past Event Recordings: