My Experience at Georgetown University

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Andrew is a Washington, D.C. tutor specializing in Business Economics tutoring, Essay Editing tutoring, SAT Verbal prep tutoring, and a number of other areas. He is a 2014 graduate of Georgetown University with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and Operations & Information Management. See what he had to share about 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?

Andrew: Georgetown University is located in the Georgetown neighborhood, in the northwest corner of Washington, D.C. Though located in the city, the area is not exactly urban. Rows of colorful townhouses line the streets, and popular stores and restaurants can be found along the main roads, M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The campus itself is mostly self-contained, and it could be mistaken for a suburban campus at first sight. This is both good and bad, because enjoying a separate, pleasant campus comes at the price of more difficult access to the rest of the city. It is not all that hard to get out, but it does take a little bit of planning to find the right bus and avoid the higher cost of a taxi or an Uber. Very few students bring their own cars, but bikes are fairly common. I found my bike to be the most convenient form of transportation to any destination within a few miles. And to give you an idea of scale, The Lincoln Memorial and the White House are only about two miles away from Georgetown University’s campus.

As far as safety is concerned, Georgetown University is located in one of the safest areas of Washington, D.C., but there will always be some crime. Most people feel that if they take reasonable precautions, like avoiding walking alone at night and keeping doors locked at all times, they will stay safe.

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Andrew: In general, I found professors to be very accessible and always eager to help. It is common at most schools for introductory-level classes to be taught in large lecture halls by professors who cannot possibly get to know all of their students, but at Georgetown University, this only happened to me twice. The vast majority of my classes had a relatively low student-to-professor ratio, and I was able to meet with my professors easily. Furthermore, many of my professors had considerable working experience in their academic fields, and they were willing to act not only as teachers, but as mentors. I developed meaningful relationships with several of my professors, and much of what I learned from them extended beyond academics.

Mentorship, however, was not something I found in my academic advisers. They seemed to be difficult to access, probably because they were assigned too many students to devote adequate time to each.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Andrew: The quality of the dorms is largely average, but they are set up very well for campus social life. All of the freshman dorms are within a short walking distance of each other, so it is easy to meet up with friends from other dorms. There is only one dining hall where meal swipes can be used, but there is always a good variety of food, as well as vegetarian and vegan choices. Some students did not like the dining hall, of course, but I personally enjoyed having just one place where all of my classmates came to eat. It meant that every time I went, I would run into people I knew, and I always looked forward to it. And for those nights when I chose to go off-campus to eat, there were many popular restaurants within short walking distance in the Georgetown neighborhood.

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?

Andrew: I chose to double major in International Business and Operations and Information Management (OPIM) in the McDonough School of Business. I applied to the business school because I was not sure what I wanted to do as a career, and I wanted to keep my options open. This turned out to be a good choice, because I did find that many diverse opportunities were available to me as a business student.

The business school is generally well supported by the university. Lectures are held in a relatively new building with excellent classroom and study spaces. There is surprisingly little difference between majors in the business school, because every student is required to take a core set of courses. After completing this core, each major is only about five courses long, compared to the usual 12 for the College of Arts and Sciences. This means that all business students have a similar experience, and they find high-quality faculty across all of the business disciplines.

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?

Andrew: There is no real Greek life at Georgetown University. There are several fraternities and sororities, but they are not recognized by the school, and they are not all that different from any other student club. Social life is organized instead around shared activities. Student clubs and teams, which often exist for an important, non-social purpose, tend to have a social component as well. For example, I was a member of Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS), which is a student-run ambulance service. Students in GERMS take its purpose and mission very seriously, but the organization also brings its members together socially around a common interest, acting almost like an informal fraternity.

There is nothing to stop anyone from being in multiple groups like this, or making connections between friends in different groups, and this leads to a mostly open social scene. I think this is especially valuable for freshmen, since they are free to spend time with different groups of people for different reasons, without any of the arbitrary restrictions that come with rushing a fraternity or a sorority.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Andrew: Georgetown University students certainly benefit from the school’s reputation among employers. Many of the most notable consulting and finance firms recruit on campus, and the Career Center arranges on-campus interviews for jobs and internships with these companies.

The Career Center is actually a very useful resource for the large numbers of students interested in business fields, especially Consulting and Finance, but students interested in less mainstream career choices may need to find more help elsewhere. For example, the Career Center had little to offer me during my somewhat unique application processes to the United States Navy’s Officer Candidate School and several federal law enforcement agencies. I do not consider this a fault of the Career Center, however, but rather a reasonable choice to use limited resources to benefit the largest number of students. And the Career Center does put on career fairs each semester, as well as a government career fair, which bring in large and diverse groups of employers.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Andrew: It is always possible to find a quiet place to study, and Georgetown University is expanding these spaces all the time. A brand new student center was just completed, and the new science and business buildings are just a few years old. The study areas can get crowded during finals, but with a little bit of creativity and patience, there is always room.

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? 

Andrew: The Georgetown neighborhood is mostly residential, but there are many stores, restaurants, and bars concentrated along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. This puts many options for shopping, eating, and socializing within 20 minutes of the university. And if you get tired of these choices, the Dupont area is only a short bus ride away, and Adams Morgan is just a little farther than that. Both of these are very popular areas for young people in Washington, D.C.

But besides going out to shop or eat, there is still plenty to do in Washington, D.C. The National Mall, around which most of the monuments and museums are located, is just a few miles from Georgetown University, and the waterfront areas along the Potomac River are a short walk away.

Some students feel that their workload prevents them from going out into the city as much as they would like to, but it is still important to remember that Washington, D.C. offers an amazing array of activities, and it is impossible to feel like you have tried everything.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Andrew: There are a little over 7,000 undergraduate students attending Georgetown University. I personally enjoyed this relatively small size. I felt that it was just big enough to allow me to always meet new people, but just small enough that I would always run into someone I knew. By the time I graduated, I did not know everyone, but I felt that I probably knew at least one person in common with everyone in my class.

Accordingly, class sizes are usually small. Only a few general education courses are taught in large lecture halls, but most classes allow students very good access to professors.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Andrew: One summer, I took a socio-linguistics class. I took the course to satisfy a requirement, and I was not expecting much out of it. However, it became one of my most valuable academic experiences. I was already vaguely interested in the subject, but as a business student, I did not see how it really fit with my concentration.

But with the help of an excellent professor, I soon discovered that socio-linguistics was extremely relevant in the business world – and even in daily life. I put a lot of energy and attention into the class, and toward the end, I found out that my professor was in charge of a research team studying the use of language in advanced business education. I asked her if she needed any help with her research in the fall, and she brought me onto the team.

I was the only undergraduate, and the only business student. I was able to learn an incredible amount from these colleagues, just by participating in practical research at the intersection of their academic field and mine. Between the summer class and the research experience, I felt that I had learned more about the principles and utility of socio-linguistics than I could have even by minoring in the subject. I was thrilled that my somewhat spontaneous adventure into linguistics had turned out to be such a fulfilling experience. I realize now, however, that experiences like this are somewhat common at Georgetown University. With a little bit of academic curiosity and some confident initiative, it is usually possible to turn academic study into a surprisingly engaging experience.

Check out Andrew's tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.