The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Jessica currently tutors several subjects in Washington, D.C., specializing in ACT prep tutoring, Pre-Calculus tutoring, Chemistry tutoring, and much more. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. See what she had to say about her time at Georgetown University:
VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?
Jessica: Georgetown University’s campus is amazingly beautiful and completely separate from the rest of Washington, D.C. It is the perfect place for someone who likes the blend of an urban setting to venture out to and a safe, separated college campus. It is possible to stay within campus and the surrounding Georgetown neighborhood. It is a bustling portion of the city with everything you need. However, the chance to explore Washington, D.C. is not one I would have given up. It is a great walking and biking city. In addition, the school has buses that link you directly to local Metro stops, so traveling about the city is not difficult at all.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Jessica: Professors, advisers, and teaching assistants are all very accessible. Georgetown University is not a huge school, so it is possible for professors to get to know students. They host office hours regularly and encourage students to attend. In my experience, they were always responsive to emails, as well. Georgetown University professors are very involved in the community, and they are often seen mingling at student group events and extracurricular activities. They, too, buy into the motto of the Jesuits (and by association, the school), cura personalis, which means care of the whole person. As such, they care about their students as people and really want them to succeed.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Jessica: The majority of housing is on-campus, and the upperclassman housing that can be found off-campus is very close by. This close proximity really leaves students with a sense of community. There are four freshman dorms, each with its own bonuses and drawbacks. Regardless of which dorm you live in, your freshman home starts to form your Georgetown University identity. It is where you make your first friends, where you have your first wave of homesickness, and where you make some of your strongest memories. Because each dorm has its own identity, it is a great way to start making friends. The dorms are similar to the houses in Harry Potter—there is an automatic bond between people in the same dorm. People on your freshman floor will all be looking to make friends, just like you, and relationships begin blossoming very naturally.
The dining hall helps with socialization, as well, because there is one main dining area. Everyone goes to Leo’s for meals. There are other options such as Subway and Epicurean, but Leo’s is the home base for meals. In the dining hall, there are a number of buffet-style options, which allow you to make your own sandwich, salad, pasta, and stir-fry dishes. If none of those options suit you, there is also the “diner” station, which is home to the very popular Chicken Finger Thursday. The area surrounding campus also has an abundance of restaurants for students to explore when Leo’s gets old.
VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?
Jessica: I was a Psychology major with a pre-medical concentration. The liberal arts fields are generally the more popular areas of study, but I found that the science departments were full of great minds. I always felt as though I was supported, and I had a variety of opportunities to explore my interests. The Psychology department was excellent at circulating information about research opportunities, conferences, and clinical internship possibilities.
VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?
Jessica: It was very easy to make friends as a freshman. Freshman orientation is designed to get people to mingle and meet each other. The freshman dorms each have a unique identity that draws residents together. Georgetown University also tries its best to match you with a compatible roommate. The university uses a questionnaire system to try to match you, and it gives you a great chance at having a first-year roommate who can become a lifelong friend. My freshman roommate and I lived together for all four years of college, and she is still one of my closest friends now that we have graduated.
Greek life does not play a big role at all. We do not have any true Greek life that is sanctioned by the university. If it is very important to you, there is a handful out there, but they do not play a big role at all. Instead, student groups mold the social opportunities. For example, Hoya Blue (the student fan club for Georgetown University sports) may host an event one night, the club lacrosse team will host one the next night, and the debate team will be having a social event the next weekend. This makes it easier to find people with common interests because people interested in the same groups attend the same social events. It also becomes less exclusive than Greek life. For the most part, everyone is welcome everywhere, and there are never any financial obligations like fraternity/sorority dues.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Jessica: The Career Center has a huge number of supports in place. I used the Career Center to get questions about the medical school application process answered. I also organized a practice interview and learned a number of tips that helped me in my application process.
Another support that I love is the accessibility of the deans. Everyone at Georgetown University makes a four-year plan with one of the deans early on. It is a great way to organize your time at Georgetown University and see that it is definitely possible to graduate with the degree you want in four years. It also introduces you personally to a dean soon after you begin. This early introduction makes you feel as if the door is always open and that you can reach out to a dean if you have any questions about your course load, progress, major, etc.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Jessica: The library is not the most beautiful building, but it is a great place to study. There are a number of silent floors, as well as Lau 2, which is the non-quiet floor of the library. On this floor, there is a coffee shop that is open until 2:00 a.m., plus a number of group study areas. This was one of my favorite places to go because I was guaranteed to run into someone I knew who I could commiserate with when I needed support. If the library is not for you, there is a coffee shop a block off campus—and a few on-campus—to study at. The McDonough School of Business building and the new science building are both beautiful places to study. The seating is very comfortable, there are whiteboards and group study rooms, and there are huge glass windows that can brighten up any gloomy study day. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for students, and you can always find a place to go. The only exception might be finding a table in a coffee shop during finals week. They tend to fill up quickly during that week, but all of the other areas offer plenty of alternatives.
VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus?
Jessica: The surrounding town is northwest Washington, D.C. It is a great area for young adults. There is a tremendous number of restaurants, museums, monuments, etc. The nightlife is also very active. As I said earlier, it is possible to live in just the Georgetown area for all four years. However, I think it is important for students to explore the whole city. See the monuments, take advantage of the free museums, and walk past the White House. These are all right in your backyard when you go to Georgetown University.
Of even more value in my eyes is seeing the parts of Washington, D.C. that many tourists do not. Georgetown University has a large number of students focused on serving others and social justice. Washington, D.C. has an interesting history, which has left it segregated geographically in a number of ways. Some of my most valuable experiences at Georgetown University involved participation in social justice activities that brought me to areas like southeast Washington, D.C., which differs greatly from the northwestern quadrant where Georgetown University is located. I highly recommend exploring Washington, D.C. for its fun activities, restaurants, and nightlife, but do not forget to find ways to explore all of it, including the underserved areas. These opportunities are invaluable, and they help shape your perspective as you begin to find your way in life.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Jessica: We are considered a medium-sized school. There are around 7,000 undergraduates, I believe. I was generally pleased with my class sizes. Most classes had between 20 and 40 students. The pre-medical requirement courses were larger, and they often had about 150-200 people in them, but because these were introductory classes and the lab groups were much smaller, I did not mind at all. Some of my upperclassmen seminars were as small as 10 or fewer people. I loved that these classes were small because they often covered topics I was passionate about, and the small class size allowed me to participate a lot and get to know the professors very well.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Jessica: One of my favorite classes was Prison Literature. I am very interested in the criminal justice system, and I thought that this class was a great way to learn about a side of the system not taught in a typical government or sociology class. I read some amazing literature, met some very inspiring formerly incarcerated men, and got to know my professor very well. This class stands out because I met three previously incarcerated men who became a part of my life in a number of ways. Their stories enhanced my perspective on life and encouraged me to continue to try to illuminate issues that run rampant in our justice system. With this inspiration, I was able to design an Alternative Spring Break Trip based on the topic of incarceration and host a number of awareness-raising events on campus. These men participated in panels I hosted, and they took us on a tour of a currently closed prison during our Spring Break trip. The class also exposed me to a huge spectrum of literature that continues to inspire me today, and it allowed me to get to know a professor who I continue to stay in touch with. Overall, I gained lifelong inspiration, support, and camaraderie in this class. The amazing part of all of this is that it is not unique for a class a Georgetown University to bring about lifelong lessons, friends, and inspiration. Amazingly, this seems to be normal for students, and it is one of the reasons I am so proud to be an alumnus of Georgetown University.
Check out Jessica’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.