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Students enjoy small class sizes of twenty-six or less. Additional mentors are added when classes exceed 15 students. Seating is most often arranged around a large table or in a U-shaped formation so that students learn from their fellow students as well as their mentor.
The glaze of inattentiveness and boredom that plagues modern classrooms is rarely seen at GWU. Faculty and students alike realize that their learning will be enhanced if every member of the class is mentally and emotionally engaged.
Students study not only for themselves, but with their classmates in mind. They view themselves as a community of scholars who together create a collective knowledge greater than their own.
Classes have a high energy as students make pointed, relevant comments that are directed to the group. Everyone listens closely to the comments of others, often making a counter-argument, and jotting down either the main idea of the comment or a related thought or epiphany they experienced as a result.
Students frequently approach the board and diagram an idea for the class while students turn pages of their books looking for a quotation that is relevant to the topic at hand. It is not uncommon for the mentor to break off lecturing or interrupt class discussion to move into an impromptu simulation. This might be done help students test an idea, practice a concept or to create a mood designed to facilitate understanding.
Like students anywhere, GWU students may get homesick, feel momentarily discouraged at their seemingly slow progress, and question whether they have what it takes to develop the attributes of leadership. This is the time when meeting with mentors brings encouragement and new assignments designed to help during these difficult times.
Students also seek encouragement and direction outside of the college from parents, religious leaders and fellow students. Drawing on this environment, students typically overcome their difficulties and get back to work, finding new joy in their renewal.