Do Student Voices

Georgetown University: Things to Know Before You Go

As many new Hoyas arrive on campus in August, it may be difficult to find your spot on the Hilltop, whether it be socially or even physically. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers to get you adjusted to being a Georgetown student!

New Student Orientation Advisors welcome new Hoyas to campus with lots of spirit and cheers (Credit: ).

NEW HOYAS — You may find yourself feeling a mix of excitement, uncertainty, school pride, and homesickness as you make your way to campus in August. While orientation advisors and upperclassmen are there to welcome you at every entrance, it might be overwhelming to finally arrive at the place you’ve been thinking about since decision day. It can be challenging to start a new chapter of your life with so many unfamiliar faces. But don’t worry: you’ve made it and you should be proud of yourself!

As an orientation advisor and rising senior, I’m here to help you understand what it means to be a Hoya and answer commonly asked questions from new students. While everyone’s college journey should be their own time to find themselves, I wish I had someone to give me this advice when I began my college career on the Hilltop. 

Ask For Help

How hard are the classes? As a prestigious university with many distinguished and internationally renowned professors, Georgetown classes can be quite challenging based on your professor, major, and course load. However, don’t let that discourage you from trying out classes that pique your interest.

Some of the best professors are the toughest graders. However, it’ll be worth it in the end for the experience. Take full advantage of office hours; not only can professors help you with classwork, but they’re also great mentors and can provide you with meaningful life advice and networking opportunities. 

Upperclassmen are also a fantastic resource to use when you need advice on which classes to take, when to take them, and which professor to take them with. Keep in mind that everyone has different learning styles and personal experiences with professors, so don’t base your entire opinion of a class on one person’s perspective. 

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks about Democratic Socialism in America in Gaston Hall (Credit: ).

If you’re struggling in a class, the Georgetown Academic Resource Center offers many different forms of assistance, such as the Writing Center, Math Assistance Center, Foreign Language Tutoring, and more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it! 

Don’t Be Intimidated by Georgetown Club Culture

Is Georgetown’s club culture that bad? What if I don’t get into the club I applied for? Although Georgetown has a reputation for its elite and exclusive clubs with long, selective application processes, that doesn’t define all the clubs at Georgetown—so don’t let that discourage you from trying some out. My recommendation is to apply to a handful of clubs (some that do require applications and some that don’t), so you can meet new people and make friends.

Pro tip: selective clubs, like Blue & Gray, the Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union, and the Corp, require you to apply. However, GIVES, Georgetown Program Board, Georgetown Green, and the International Relations Club are application-free. 

It’s upsetting when you don’t get into the club you want, but you can always reapply another semester! I think that clubs are beneficial because they provide a space for Hoyas to connect with people who share similar interests.

While you may find yourself signing up for a lot of clubs, pick a few that you’re legitimately interested in and don’t spread yourself too thin. You have the opportunity to either challenge yourself to try something new or pursue something you’ve always loved.

How do you make friends when there’s limited Greek life? Since Georgetown does not formally recognize most Greek life, many Hoyas find their friend groups through clubs, classes, and common living spaces. While 10% of Hoyas belong to some form of sorority or fraternity, these are non-access-to-benefits and officially unrecognized by the university. Those who do partake in Greek life believe that it’s a great way to meet people that you may have never interacted with before. Clubs at Georgetown mirror the typical role that Greek life at other universities upholds. However, Greek life at Georgetown goes beyond the social aspect and offers many philanthropic and professional opportunities for students as well.

If you want to learn more about Greek life at Georgetown, check out our article What To Know About Greek Life At Georgetown University.

Don’t Fear the Food

Is the food really that bad? While the food at Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall isn’t five-star restaurant quality, you’re definitely not going to be hungry. In the past few years, Georgetown has redesigned its dining experience and added many new options. The main dining hall, Leo’s, is divided into two floors with the upper level offering fast-casual dining; it features grab-and-go options that include bakery items and coffee, Asian and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, and a weekly rotating menu. The downstairs level offers the traditional college buffet-style format with 10 different stations to suit every type of diet, such as allergen-free and vegetarian.

Pro tip: avoid going to Leo’s at 6 pm because that’s when the dinner rush hits and the lines get very long. Also, Leo’s doesn’t serve hot food between 10:30-11 am and 2:00-4:00 pm. Some good alternatives are Hoya Court (located in the Leavey Center), which has a salad shop and a sandwich place, and Einstein Bros. Bagels (located in Car Barn); both places accept meal exchanges. In addition, our beloved Chick-fil-a and Starbucks are in Hoya Court, and they both accept flex and debit dollars. To learn more about meal plans at Georgetown, click here

And we can’t forget the staple item in a Hoya’s diet: Epicurean. Epi is where most Hoyas go after a night out to enjoy some greasy quesadillas, fries, and pizza. PS: there are more great food options at Epi including a noodle bar, sushi bar, and rotating buffet. With so many events happening on campus, there is also a lot of free food to look out for, too!

The upstairs level of Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall (Credit: ).

If you’re interested in reading more about food options in Georgetown, check out our article How to Eat Affordably like a Hoya.

The First People You Meet

What if I don’t fit in? Looking back at my past three years at Georgetown, most of the people with who I’m the closest now aren’t the ones I met in the first couple of weeks at school. While I was lucky and met my best friend freshman year during one of the nightly New Student Orientation programs, many of the first people I met are now just acquaintances I wave to while passing by. On the other hand, I know many people who are still very close with their freshman year floor, orientation group, or roommate.

It may be a while until you finally feel like you’ve found your people, but give it time and you’ll find friends who have the same interests as you through classes and extracurriculars. Don’t worry if you don’t have much in common with the first people you meet; it just takes time to find where you fit. 

New students walking through campus for the first time (Credit: ).

Break Out of the Georgetown Bubble

Is there a lot to do off-campus? With so many study spots, free museums, restaurants, and events (including speakers) all over D.C., make sure to take advantage of living in such a lively city and venture out of the Georgetown campus. 

The National Mall is just a half-hour walk from campus, but you should also get acquainted with D.C.’s vast public transportation system and get your SmarTrip card. I know it may be convenient to stay on campus, but trust me: you’ll regret not exploring D.C. by the time it gets to your senior year. Go hiking at Great Falls Park, rent out a kayak on the Potomac River, join in on a protest, or discover a new art exhibit. The opportunities are endless! Take a look at our Getting Around D.C. article to learn about all of the ways you can explore the city!

Where should I study? Besides our beloved Lauinger Library, there are countless other locations to study at while you’re a Georgetown student. If you like a busier environment, I’d recommend the Healey Family Student Center or Sellinger Lounge. Recently, I’ve grown to like grabbing an empty classroom with a group of friends in the ICC or in Healy Hall. For those who prefer a quieter study space, Bloomer Library in Reiss or the Bioethics Library in Healy are both great options. Hoyas are also extremely lucky to be in a city full of coffee shops to study at, including Saxbys, Compass Coffee, Blue Bottle, and more. You can also stay on campus and work at any of the Corp coffee shop locations! 

Students can enjoy the views of D.C. while kayaking the Potomac River (Credit: ).

Learn to Advocate For Yourself 

How do I make changes to my schedule? Who can I go to for help? While Georgetown offers numerous resources to help you with course scheduling and career counseling, being able to take initiative and advocate for yourself is a key skill you develop as a Hoya. For example, if you’re on a waitlist for a class you really want to take, I recommend emailing the professor and sitting in on the first day of class. Connecting with professors on your own and being proactive can help you bypass the waitlist. 

If you don’t think you got the grade you deserve, make sure to talk to the professor or TA—not only to understand what you did wrong but also to improve in the future. If professors see that you really care, they are more willing to help you so that you can do better in their courses later on.

If you want to check off multiple core requirements with one course, look at cross-listed courses on MyAccess when registering; for instance, one course can fulfill your history requirement and also your global diversity requirement. 

An example of one of the many Community-Based Learning courses that Georgetown offers (Credit: ).

Are the upperclassmen approachable? Upperclassmen and alumni are probably two of the best resources that Georgetown has to offer. Many past and current Hoyas love talking about their time on the Hilltop and give great advice. They can tell you which classes to take, which textbooks you’ll need (and where to buy them for the lowest cost), and which internship opportunities are worth it. Your orientation advisor is also a fantastic upperclassman to talk to when first arriving on campus, and they can help you navigate Georgetown as you begin to branch out and meet new people. 

Be Yourself

Do I deserve to be here? Everyone seems so much more accomplished than me, so do I actually belong here? It’s not uncommon for Hoyas to have imposter syndrome and doubt their accomplishments, but you’ve made it! I full-heartedly believe that every Hoya has something special to contribute to the community. 

Don’t compare yourself to other students because you’re here to grow and mature yourself—not to become someone else. Every student comes from a different background with various interests. At first, my background as a first-generation student from a public high school made me feel a little out of place, but I eventually found people that had similar backgrounds as me, as well as people with different upbringings that I connected with. While you may feel out of place in the beginning, your unique experiences will be essential in upholding the diversity on campus and offering different perspectives to other students and staff. 

How do you balance school, work, clubs, and social life? Not only are you a student, but you’re also human. Therefore, you need to find a balance between the different aspects of college life. For me, school has always come first because that’s the reason why I came to Georgetown. But if you spend your entire life in the library, you won’t be making the most out of your college experience. College is the time to find yourself and enjoy new experiences so that you can grow as a person. For once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, like waiting in line at Gaston Hall to hear Bill Clinton speak or attending a conference for your internship, sometimes it’s okay to skip a class. Live a little!

While Georgetown offers world-class academics, it’s important to acknowledge its internship and mentorship opportunities. By emphasizing the Jesuit value of educating the whole person, the university encourages students to be social and network. At the same time, self-care is also important and it’s normal to not want to be surrounded by people 24/7. You have to find your balance because everyone is different.