Final Project: Success is Perception

While researching the George Washington University Hospital and University itself, it’s evident that, although they both strive to become more prevalent and successful, they go about their work it two distinctive ways. The George Washington University Hospital wants to become one of the most successful in the region and to do so they believe they need to show the public how trusted, advanced, and resourceful they are. In regards to the University, they have been trying to become a Top 50 school in the country for years now. They believe that in order to do so, they need to prove to the community that they are prestigious and that message is communicated to the community through a variety of ways. The University’s hospital is seen as an inviting and welcoming place; however, the University gives a message to the general public that they are exclusive and only allow in the top tier students. Both the hospital and the university share a common place, and by analyzing the built environment and researching the messages that these organizations try to display, we see that success is mere perception.

I spent two years of my educational career at George Washington University and have had a lot of first hand experience with both the University and the hospital staff.

Every building rests in the area of Washington D.C. known as Foggy Bottom. This area is busy almost the entire day and night. Since this area is near a lot of government and office buildings, the foot traffic around the hospital can get extremely hectic due to the people traveling to and from work. In addition to all of the foot traffic, the metro station directly adjacent to the University’s hospital adds only more people to, what some believe, is troubling situation. Below we see a picture of the hospital’s main entrance and the entrance of the metro station.

As a former student I can say that going to school in a city environment can be an advantage in some situations, but the overwhelming foot traffic caused a lot of annoying problems. That being said, for the George Washington University Hospital, this is not seen as a problem at all. One of the messages the hospital wants to send to the public is that they are easily accessible and accommodating to anyone. This begs the question if the hospital wanted the metro stop next to them on purpose. I talked about this topic in some of my previous work where I dove more in depth about the built environment of the hospital.

In my past work I have sited Sarah Schindler’s article Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. She argues that architects will choose how the built environments are made due to specific reasons of exclusion. “some choice architects alter not only conceptual decision making structures but the built environment itself, suggesting that they are in fact quite similar to traditional architec” (Schindler 9). This quote helps answer the question above – no decision is made without knowledge of the ramifications. The hospital wants the station in that location in order to invite people inside. They want to treat as many people as possible so they can be seen as one of the most trusted and in-demand hospitals in the metropolitan area.

The message the the hospital is sending to the community is simple – they want to be trusted. The more people that experience the George Washington University Hospital, the more trust is attributed to the institution. They also want to show that they are cutting-edge and have top of the line resources. This video produced by the University’s administration shows a visual outlook of what the University’s executives believe the message should be.

The visuals in the video are important in what they are trying to sell. Right away they show the history of the hospital by introducing former President Ronald Reagan. They want to remind the public that they were the ones who had to perform emergency surgery on him after an assassination attempt. After that, they tell us about how their doctors use the best and most cutting edge equipment available. All of these aspects are used to gain trust from the community so that they decide to visit the hospital if anything unfortunate happens. Treating more people equals more recognition, and eventually, more success. We see that creating success is done by creating a certain perception to the greater community.

When focusing on George Washington University, they seek similar success and prowess but in a completely different way. The University has a low acceptance rate, and in fact has raised their tuition over the recent years in order to gain prestige in the eyes of the public.

In Kevin Carey’s New York Times article published in 2015, titled How to Raise a University’s Profile: Pricing and Packaging, he speaks to the fact that the University’s plan was to raise tuition to give off the perception it was worth it. Students would be getting a degree unlike many others, which actually turned out to be false. An administrator at the school was quoted saying that the University “convinced people that George Washington was worth a lot more money by charging a lot more money” (New York Times). He then went on to even further explain his comment by saying “College is like vodka, he liked to explain. Vodka is by definition a flavorless beverage. It all tastes the same. But people will spend $30 for a bottle of Absolut because of the brand. A Timex watch costs $20, a Rolex $10,000. They both tell the same time” (New York Times). These quotes illustrate that an education at the University is not actually worth the money that they are charging and that they only charge this much to create a perception they are a prestigious university where students will earn  a prestigious degree. They are trying to generate success for themselves by creating perception, not actual substance.

Not only does the university raise tuition to create a message to the community, they also do it through commercials.

These commercials, like the one above, state the types of students the George Washington University administrators are looking for, and the goals these students should set out for themselves. These commercials are used to attract potential students and also try to attract a certain type of student with high aspirations for themselves. The commercial shows monumental areas of the city, nice areas of campus, and various athletes competing in certain events. Potential students get a variety of images on what the university is trying to sell. In the commercial above, they state they have students who are set out to change the world. Now that may be true, but we can see that these statements and visuals are being used to make the university as prominent as possible.

After researching both George Washington University Hospital, as well as the University itself, it is evident they are both striving to climb the ranks of their respective fields but going about it in two different ways. The hospital has goals of becoming trusted, advanced, and resourceful. We see this from their built environment as well as the messages they send out to the greater community. They know they can acclaim success by becoming an inclusive hospital that people depend on for any unfortunate occurrence that happens to them. The University’s plan is to create more of a secluded environment where they only accept certain people into the school. They create a false perception that they their education is worth thousands of more dollars than it really is. Although the University and hospital follow different paths to success, they both lean on the perception of the public to decide how much success both of them eventually gain. We can see that success is merely just a perception.


Works Cited

Carey, Kevin. “How to Raise a University’s Profile: Pricing and

Packaging.” The New York Times, The New York Times,

6 Feb. 2015,

universitys-profile-pricing-and-packaging.html?_r=0. Accessed 4

May 2017.

Cimino, Matt C. “Category: Essays.” Powered by EdSpace, 9 Mar. 2017, Accessed 4

May 2017..


GWtweets. “The George Washington University.” Vimeo, 4 May 2017, Accessed 4 May 2017.


GWUHospital. “George Washington University Hospital – Quality

Hospital Care.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 July 2013,

Accessed 4 May 2017.


Schindler, Sarah. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and

Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.”

The Yale Law Journal – Home, The Yale Journal , Apr. 2015,

Accessed 4 May 2017

Failure is Not an Option

“If you are afraid of failure you don’t deserve to be successful.” – Charles Barkley

I like this quote by Charles Barkley because, like many others say, it is important to get out of our comfort zones and strive to be unique and great. If one is afraid to fail, they do not deserve to claim the successes of those who go all out for their dreams. Charles is considered one of the greatest players to ever play basketball. He did not get there by being afraid to fail. When looking at almost anyone who has had a great impact on this world, they never once stopped their work because of the fear they were going to fail. They went for it.

Limits are Irrelevant

“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream the further you get.” – Michael Phelps

I love this quote by Michael Phelps because he is telling us that we should never put limits on ourselves. There is greatness in everyone, but it is up to us to recognize it and put in the hard work necessary to achieve whatever it is we want to achieve. Coming from one of the greatest athletes to ever live, it is important we take note of his mindset and work ethic. He never once put a limit on himself, and today he is considered the greatest olympian to ever live.

Outwork Your Competition

“There may be people who have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter

I have always enjoyed this quote by Derek Jeter because is perfectly illustrates how those thinking they have “no shot” should go about their work. It is true that there are many people out in the world with more natural ability than you; however, one can always beat them out for a job or spot on a team if they dedicate themself to the work. Natural ability decides where people start, but it will never decide where they end up. We are always in control of that.

Give It Your All

“If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?” – Joe Namath

This quote by Joe Namath illustrates to us how we should go about our business on a daily basis. Whatever one chooses to do in life, they should attack in head on. This is why it is important to constantly be doing things that you are passionate about. If the passion is not there, why do it? Without this passion and effort, life can seem very unfulfilling. It is not fair to you to not go “all in” with something. The people who seem to find the most success and happiness are often those excited to work on whatever it is they have chosen.

Lead Like a Lion

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion” – Alexander the Great

In this quote said by Alexander the Great, it states perfectly what I believe leadership is all about. Having a great leader will always strengthen the entire group. Whether it is a sports team or business, that specific group relies on their leader to be fearless and take on any challenges. Another reason why I like this quote so much is that it shows how important a leader can be. If there was an army of sheep, but only one lion leading them, realistically one should not be too afraid of that army. But if there was an army of lions led by a sheep, the numbers say that is an army one should be more afraid of; however, because of the strength in leadership, the army of sheep led by a one single lion is the more feared army. If those sheep take the mindset of that lion, they will be hard to beat.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I enjoy this quote because it emphasizes that we should all get out of our comfort zones from time to time. I can admit that I personally have not done something everyday that “scares me,” but I think that it is important to push ones limits regularly in order to grow. Many people are afraid of failure, so they hesitate to get out of their comfort zone in order to protect themself. If that is how everyone lived, growth would be at a minimum, and innovation would suffer.

Never Waste Time on Anger

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently saw this quote, said by Ralph Waldo emerson, and thought it was so simple yet brilliant. I think it is important for people to not get too hung up in situations that get them angry. Living angry is a bad way to live, so it is important for one to realize that they need to surround themselves with good people who will help them grow and be happy. Every moment one is angry is a moment wasted. Time is the most precious commodity is life, it is important not to waste it.

Advice From Dr. Seuss

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” – Dr. Seuss

This quote stated by Dr. Seuss illustrates to us that dreaming big and having creativity in our lives is an important ingredient for happiness. If one just does the same thing everyday and does not have a mind for him/herself, they will find no true happiness. Creativity and imagination are key, because they allow one to think freely and try to make change to their life and lives around them. As Dr. Seuss says, what one might see as nonsense later “wakes up” the brain in the process. To me that doesn’t sound so bad.

The Greats’ Always Fail

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

This quote stated by Thomas Edison teaches an important lesson. For those trying to accomplish their goals, or for those trying to build something through their creativity, this quote does a great job of teaching us that failure is not something we should consider as a bad thing. Everyone who has created something in life has failed countless times before they have ever succeeded. This mindset can work for people in any profession. It takes a lot of work to become “successful” in anything, and there will be many times one fails before they succeed.