George Mason University is a public research university with a diverse and vibrant student body. Located in Fairfax, Virginia, the university offers a variety of degree programs and plenty of extracurricular activities. But what is it like to be a student at George Mason?
From the perspectives of current and former students, studying at George Mason is an experience of both challenges and rewards. From the rigorous coursework to the opportunities to get involved in student organizations, students at George Mason can learn and grow in an engaging and supportive environment.
Whether you’re a first-year student or a senior, there’s always something new to explore. The diverse perspectives of fellow students, faculty, and staff create an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding that will stay with you long after you graduate.
Overview of George Mason University
George Mason University was founded in 1957 as a public university in Fairfax, Virginia. It is a large, research-intensive school with a distinct focus on experiential learning and civic engagement. The university has a diverse student body of over 38,000 students, including students from 150 countries and all 50 states.
George Mason’s mission is to create “an inclusive and innovative community that engages the world.” The university accomplishes this through a variety of programs and initiatives, including the Mason Institutes (Research, STEM, and Humanities); research funding; and extracurricular programs and activities.
Students at George Mason can choose from over 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including STEM, humanities, and health care. There are seven colleges and schools at the university, including the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; the School of Management; and the Volgenau School of Engineering.
George Mason University is one of the largest producers of computer scientists and cybersecurity professionals in the country. The university is also a member of the Northern Virginia Millennial Civic Engagement Consortium, which helps to increase civic participation in the community.
Student perspectives on the academic environment
Students who have attended George Mason University have many positive things to say about their experience. The rigorous coursework is balanced with a supportive and collaborative learning environment. Students value the opportunity to collaborate with peers and faculty members even outside the classroom.
Many students find that the rigorous coursework prepares them well for graduate school. The academic environment at George Mason supports students with a variety of different needs and learning styles. Students who have studied at George Mason talk about their experiences in the classroom as a positive and collaborative learning environment.
Students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members, who often encourage students to pursue their interests and collaborate with other disciplines. Many students feel prepared for graduate school and beyond with the quality of education and opportunities for research at George Mason.
Challenges of studying at George Mason
Students attending George Mason may feel that the coursework is rigorous, especially for STEM majors. Some students may experience challenges balancing school, work, extracurricular activities, and other commitments. For example, many students are also employed while attending school and may feel the pressure to excel in both areas.
Students may also feel overwhelmed by the number of choices they have in choosing a major, coursework, and extracurricular activities. Students who are considering attending George Mason should be prepared for a rigorous learning environment, including a large course load.
They should also consider what extracurricular activities they would like to get involved with on campus and how those might impact their coursework.
Rewards of studying at George Mason
Students who have studied at George Mason talk about the rewarding opportunities they have benefited from throughout their time at the university. Students have access to a large network, including a diverse and supportive student body, alumni connections, and faculty members.
Many students have participated in research projects and have presented their research at conferences and other events. Students are also able to engage in a variety of extracurricular activities, including clubs, sports, and volunteer opportunities.
They have the opportunity to travel abroad, participate in competitions, and explore their interests. Students also have the opportunity to network with professionals from various industries, including law, healthcare, and business.
They have access to a variety of resources, including financial aid, academic advising, and career services. Students have the opportunity to develop as individuals and learn about their interests and skills, which can help them in their future careers.
Extracurricular activities and student organizations
There are a variety of extracurricular activities and student organizations available at George Mason University. Some of these include the following:
Cultural Awareness and Diversity Organizations
Cultural Awareness and Diversity Organizations (CADO) is a group that works to promote understanding and awareness of cultural differences among students. It hosts activities such as the annual International Food Festival and the Interfaith Service and Dinner.
Health and Wellness Organizations
Health and Wellness Organizations (HWOs) aim to promote healthy lifestyles through physical activity and education. These organizations include the BMX Club, Diving Club, Dance Club, and Ultimate Frisbee Club.
Interest-Based Organizations (IBOs) are groups with specific interests, such as music and theater. Some include the Mason Marching Band, Mason Theatre Company, and Mason Opera.
Service and Civic-Engagement Organizations
Service and Civic-Engagement Organizations (SCEOs) provide students with the opportunity to engage in community service. Organizations include the Center for Civic Engagement, Habitat for Humanity, Mason Volunteers in Medicine, and Suicide Prevention and Awareness.
Sports and Recreational Clubs
Sports and Recreational Clubs provide students with the opportunity to compete in organized sports. Some clubs include the Mason Cheerleading Squad, Mason Lacrosse Club, and the Sailing Club.
Student Government Organizations
Student Government Organizations (SGOS) provide students with the opportunity to gain leadership experience. These organizations include the Mason Student Government, Mason Pride, and Mason Democrats.
Technology-Based Clubs provide students with the opportunity to explore and work with technology. Some clubs include the Artificial Intelligence Club, D-STEM, and the Information Security Club.
Experiences of diverse perspectives
Students of diverse backgrounds have many positive experiences at George Mason University. They have the opportunity to network with fellow students, faculty members, and alumni from a variety of backgrounds. They also have the opportunity to explore diverse perspectives in coursework and extracurricular activities.
For example, students may choose to take a course in a different language or participate in a service project that explores different perspectives, such as the Humans to Mars initiative (a NASA-sponsored project that students are studying).
Some students also participate in student organizations that promote understanding and awareness of diverse perspectives, such as the Cultural Awareness and Diversity Organizations (CADO).
Benefits of learning and growth
Students who have studied at George Mason University have many positive things to say about the benefits of their experience. They have the opportunity to network with peers and professionals, explore their interests and skills, and travel abroad. Students have access to resources and support, including academic advising, financial aid, career services, and student organizations and clubs.
They also have the opportunity to get involved in research and develop as individuals. Students have the opportunity to take courses outside their majors, which provides them with a broader educational experience. Students have the chance to engage in diverse perspectives, explore their interests, and travel abroad.
Experiences of first-year and senior students
First-year students at George Mason University can take advantage of several opportunities. First-year students are encouraged to explore the university and participate in a variety of programs and activities, including New Student Orientation, the New Student Expo, and the New Student Seminar.
New Student Orientation is a week-long program that provides opportunities for first-year students to meet their peers and faculty members, explore the Fairfax campus, and participate in New Student Week activities. The New Student Expo is an annual event where students can learn about organizations on campus, explore academic majors and minors, and meet with faculty members.
The New Student Seminar is a week-long program that provides a structured opportunity for first-year students to explore their academic interests, develop their academic goals, and learn about the academic resources available at George Mason University.
In addition to these events, first-year students are also encouraged to participate in the Freshman Research Initiative (a program that offers first-year students the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research) and the First-Year Mentor Program (a program that pairs first-year students with upper-level students to serve as mentors and provide guidance and support).
Senior students at George Mason University have the opportunity to explore their interests and gain valuable work experience. Senior students are encouraged to participate in the Senior Experience program and other activities and programs throughout the year.