I'm a former student and now a parent of a student. Yes there are drastic difference in student home lives but we have one of the smallest public schools in the area! You have the rich and poor right next to each other and not much between them, however I think it's the parents fault for not teaching their child to respect everyone no matter what. I had a great education without doing any extras really. Yes the teachers push you hard and expect the best but my first year in college was so easy because it was mostly review. It showed how advanced our education can be in the FCCPS school system. I will not move out of this area until my child graduations from Mason because their education is one of the best! Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria or any other close district can't come close to what this school district can offer.
As a parent, I've heard students' comments similar to the the post below. Also from other sources (outside counselors; parents) that this is not a friendly school. Students are cliquish, administration doesn't intervene. We had about 60% of the teachers who are truly wonderful, 20% so so, and 20% flaky.
First, the education here is just excellent IF you make it so. I was an IB Diploma recipient here & I cannot stress how easy college feels now because of the workload & types of assignments I received here. Sports teams are demanding and successful. Teachers are EXCELLENT. Great community here ..somehow..despite deep socioeconomic divides among student groups. The administration is so committed, & it shows. IB diploma program is exceptional, but the grade deflation here may hurt students who choose to pursue anything outside of academics, or aren't EXTREMELY organized. Problems: There's a fair share of kids who disrupt classes, make problems bigger, act stupid , etc. as if self-control is a foreign concept. The administration can't do anything much but assign them detentions & leave them to chill with the security guards per usual. College counseling is a JOKE & often does injustice to Mason's caliber of student. I'd suggest getting a private college counselor & pursuing as much IB coursework as you can without getting the full Diploma...the extra stuff only builds unnecessary pressure. In the end, grades matter more & are the stepping stones to "interesting" pursuits.
I'm a current student here, and although I don't like it very much, there's more good than bad. Classes are interesting and challenging; I have harder and more challenging work than any of my friends from other schools, and the classes really make you think. Most teachers are generally helpful and caring, though if you need extra help, you need to ask for it. Going here can be very, very, stressful and not getting enough sleep if a problem. There are definitely a few bad teachers, but studying hard and using the schools many tutoring options can offset that. There is a huge focus on the IB program, and a lot of pressure to do the full diploma. The school has a pretty competitive atmosphere, and a decent amount of cheating, which is really irritating for those of us that are honest. People are welcoming to new kids, and it's easy to find a group you fit in. Some people are definitely snobs and if you don't come from a family with a lot of money, you can feel out of place. There are a lot of chances to get involved, and good variety; join a few things your first year and see what fits you. The principal great and supportive of all the teams, and the counseling department is helpful.
George Mason is an excellent school. Having been in education for over 20 years, I recognize an amazing educational environment. Teachers care about students; the administration works with teachers, parents and students to build a welcoming community; and the IB program is challenging. My only concern is a small group of parents who continue to hound the administration and degrade the school division based on their personal agendas. If you can avoid that group, your children will have a wonderful experience.
We moved to Falls Church City because of this school. It's a small high school with a real community feel. They have an active IB program, excellent music program, lots of sports teams, great robotics team, foreign language exchange program. Not every teacher is great--no school can say that--but some are really excellent. And the principal always shows up. He's at games, tournaments, concerts; he's outside every single morning greeting the kids as they come into the school.
If your child is bright and has an IEP then this is a scary place. As a parent you will have to be the case manager and the Administration is much more interested in following the law then helping your child be successful. They will drag their feet all year and do nothing to help you. There is no one to go to for help because the Superintendent will not help you. If you have a child with an IEP I would suggest Arlington or Fairfax. George Mason just fired their best special ed teacher, the only one that really knew what he was doing and had the will to do it. Sad state of affairs there. I suppose the reviews for general education students might be true but I don't enjoy that world, my child is special ed and our experience is so different.
My child was a student for four years at George Mason. We returned to the US from living overseas so she could attend high school here, and interviewed several public schools that offered the IB program in both Virginia and Maryland. Mason seemed the best of them, and we relocated to Falls Church specifically so she could go there. It was a good choice. She did the IB program and graduated with the full IB diploma. I was struck by the great support she received from the IB program coordinator and the guidance counselors. As a senior, she was accepted at most of the colleges she applied to, and has since flourished at the highly selective college she chose to attend. The challenging academics at Mason certainly played a large role. One of the best public high schools in Northern Virginia, I've no doubt
Boy, we've moved around alot! One lesson I've learned is that your child feeling like part of the community is crucial! This school is so wonderful! They care about the needs of each student...and they place their resources behind that! I KNOW that firsthand...and as my son has told me, there is a real feeling of belonging. You will find kids from all walks of life..rich, poor, white, not white, driven, lazy...and for the most part, they are accepted. I'm so thankful for this school! We've been through some major challenges before landing here, and I am SO thankful that my son is at George Mason. It's a wonderful balance of academics and social acceptance...so key for our teenage kids.
Everything about it is great --environment, teachers, students, clubs, creative classes, size-- and it rates while students go on to productive, happy futures. ...Given today's budget issues, we are trying our best not to cut anything-- help us help our school, and all the educators and students in it!