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July 2013
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Home / Archive / Campus News - July 2008

GWC Selection Retreat a Success!

George Wythe College hosts its first Admissions Selection Retreat.

By Russell Clarke, Director of Admissions

It may be summer, but George Wythe College is full of life!  On June 6th and 7th, GWC hosted its first Selection Retreat for applicants desiring to enroll in the Fall on-campus undergraduate program.

In previous years, applicants have participated in a rigorous application and interview process to qualify for acceptance into the undergraduate on-campus program. As the numbers of applicants begins to steadily increase however, the Office of Admissions is faced with the challenge of scrutinizing each application and evaluating each applicant. To meet this challenge and to become more familiar with each applicant and his or her preparedness to attend George Wythe College, the Selection Retreat was created and added as a final step in the admissions process.  As the number of applicants exceeds the number of available seats on campus, participation in the Selection Retreat will be crucial to gain admittance to the college.

The challenge of creating a Selection Retreat comes in designing a two-day event which is consistent with the mission and methodology of the college. The college mission statement—To build men and women of virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage who inspire greatness in others and move the cause of liberty— is itself an intrinsically high standard. Thus, the goal of the Retreat is for the faculty and staff to create circumstances in which applicants can exhibit such characteristics and do so in just one weekend. This is not an easy task! Fortunately, the methodology of George Wythe lends itself to creating just such an environment. We relied heavily on the Five Pillars of Statesmanship: Classics, Mentors, Field Experience, Simulations, and God, and found an outstanding mix of activities to challenge this year’s applicants physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually in an attempt to evoke their true characters. 

Rather than run through the agenda of planned activities for the Retreat– a luxury which the applicants also intentionally did not receive – greater appreciation for the Retreat can be found in a few remarks and lessons learned by the applicants themselves.  As one  male applicant  expressed:

“[I] felt slightly like I was on a bullet train with no engineer. It kept me alert and just uncomfortable enough to be my true self throughout the Retreat. I didn’t get comfortable enough to slip back into familiar patterns or semi-rehearsed social posturing that everyone keeps in their back pocket for unfamiliar situations. … [T]his element of haphazardness…exposes just enough nerves of the students to see what their strengths and weaknesses are. I definitely learned a lot about myself and others at the retreat.” 

Though it may at times seemed haphazard and unpredictable, the unseen agenda executed its goal quite well. The Retreat afforded numerous opportunities for true colors to shine brightly.

Among these opportunities were several situations where the applicants needed to work together, to overcome challenges, to communicate ideas and strategies, and to persuade and move others to action. One of our female applicants stated:

“The small group case scenarios were great because not only did they make us have to work on our feet, but we had to collaborate and work together to accomplish a goal with no preconceived notions.  We had to be organized, tactical, and work with people we didn't know all that well.  We were under pressure and it was a race to accomplish our goal.  I see how the skill to do this will be much needed in the world as statesman, and that we will have to do these things in real life, and then our 'under-pressure' decisions could be vital decisions that have potential to change the world.  The opportunity was a great learning experience for me. … We had to communicate and be one, even though we were seven very diverse minds.”

This young lady keyed in on one of the benefits of coming to the Selection Retreat; through the challenges and difficulties the applicants faced, they became more unified as a group.

These small groups and the cohort as a whole have a great advantage heading into the fall semester. One female applicant expressed the feelings of many of the other prospective students:

“I thought it was a great opportunity to meet the future students and staff at an occasion such as this one.  Overall, the feeling and environment around the Retreat were very welcoming and comfortable.  I believe that when school starts in the fall, students (and staff) will already be ahead because of the event.  They had the opportunity to get to know and interact with classmates, so at the beginning of the semester it will be much easier to jump right in because the very important people connections have been made.”

This is a significant remark considering the diversity of applicants.  Participants came from many parts of the country – from Alaska to California to Kansas.  They were younger as well as older; new high school graduates to professionals to tradesman; and a nearly equal split in females versus males.  In regard to one outdoor activity, one young lady commented:

“Absolutely loved [it]! Could not have been better! I loved getting to know people more during this adventure. The group that attended this retreat really impressed me. There were many young people that I was so impressed with. They were moral, ethical, fun, smart, and happy. ...I felt quite comfortable with this group. There were some things that I felt age and life-experience had given me, that set me on a different plane than many of the others. They gave me hope that there are youth out there who want to better the world.”

From the experiences of the applicants, it is apparent that the vast majority of them came away feeling that they had learned a great deal about themselves and about others. Additionally, they gained a clearer perspective of George Wythe College: what it values, where it is headed, and how they can be a part of it.  The end result is that George Wythe College and each individual can determine whether they are the best match.  Overall, the applicants were outstanding and the Retreat was a success.  Staff and faculty at GWC look forward to welcoming a high-quality freshman class in Fall 2008!  

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