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by Natalie Hershberger ( and Lin Philpott (

Connectedness is a key factor in student success and retention. Students who are engaged in the academic and social life of a college campus are more likely to persist to graduation. This engagement includes students developing meaningful relationships with peers, faculty, and staff as well as building strong academic bonds in and outside the classroom.

The beginning of the first year of college is a pivotal time for creating student connections among individuals and with the university. Among many avenues for creating connections, the Center for Student Engagement offers two pre-semester, co-curricular programs for new incoming students: Adventure Bound and LEAD GW. These programs ease participants’ transition to college and helps students build connections with the campus community before classes even begin. ...continue reading "Leveraging Pre-Semester, Co-Curricular Programs to Support Student Success"

by Allen Rakotoniaina (

In the fast-paced life of a college student, leadership and teamwork skills are emphasized not only in academic curricula, but also in extracurricular activities, including campus involvement and internships. However, without a forum in which to practice, it can be a daunting task to translate the concepts of leadership and teamwork into real-world activities.

Enter the GW SUMMIT Outdoor Challenge Course.

As the only low ropes course located inside the District of Columbia, SUMMIT offers a convenient and unique opportunity for George Washington University undergraduate and graduate students to apply and develop individual leadership skills and build team cohesion. Many of GW’s student organizations (who participate for free), co-curricular and leadership programs such as Women’s Leadership Program and LEAD GW, and University departments use the Course as a mechanism to achieve a variety of learning outcomes. Since its opening in 2005, SUMMIT has hosted groups from American and Georgetown Universities, academic programs from the Washington Center and the Cyprus Bi-Communal Youth Institute, U.S. Government agencies, and corporate teams such as Fannie Mae and Capital One. This broad client base has contributed to the nearly 1,600 participants welcomed to the Course from summer 2017 though the 2017-2018 academic year. ...continue reading "Reaching the SUMMIT: Peak Leadership and Team Development"

by Bridgette Behling (

Back in December, we posted about some ground-breaking work in the GW TRAiLS program. Staff from the Center for Student Engagement have taken an innovative approach in their work by partnering with the university's Mental Health Services staff to promote healthy living. More about that work was recently published in the Outdoor Insider magazine published by the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) when Lin Philpott, the CSE's Coordinator for Outdoor Leadership, wrote about Making Your Outdoor Program a Mental Health Resource. The article shares how Center for Student Engagement staff have partnered with colleagues in GW's Mental Health Services to decrease stigma around help-seeking behavior and increase participation in outdoor programming by viewing it as a resource in self-care. Congratulations on being published, Lin!

How do you incorporate mental health into your outdoor education program?

by Lin Philpott (

Recently staff from GW’s Center for Student Engagement and Mental Health Services presented at the Active Minds Conference in Washington, D.C.,  about the benefits of integrated services between outdoor adventure programs and university counseling. Below are highlights from the presentation. ...continue reading "Mental Health and the Outdoors"

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