College Road Trip to Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University

The summer after her freshman year at Georgetown University, Bayley Wivell spent 10 weeks interning in the Philippines. A marketing major and global business fellow from Rochester, New York, Wivell helped an eco-tourism resort promote its sustainability efforts.

“Whether you’re a freshman or senior, these opportunities are for every Georgetown student,” says Wivell, who will graduate in 2022.

The campus overlooks the Potomac River in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood. Inside the front gates, students might be reading on Healy Lawn, singing with their a cappella group in front of the Lauinger Library or strolling through the student-run farmers market.

“We’re a very active community,” says Lea Frawley, a junior from New York City studying psychology. “There’s a feeling that everyone’s always doing something, and it really just makes you motivated to want to do something, too.”

Unless they have a reason to be exempted, students are required to live on campus, known as “The Hilltop,” for their first three years, in housing ranging from dorms to apartments and townhouses.

[Read: Living on Campus: A Guide to College Housing.]

Georgetown’s roughly 7,500 undergraduates can enroll in four of the university’s nine schools: Georgetown College –where about half of undergrads study the arts and sciences — the Walsh School of Foreign Services, the McDonough School of Business and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, which will become two schools by the fall of 2022.

For their first two years, students typically focus on a universitywide and school-specific core curriculum. The university core consists of courses in writing, humanities, theology, philosophy, science and engaging diversity.

With many options available to fulfill most requirements, students can tailor their core experience to their interests. Abby Donnelly, a junior majoring in global health from Wilmington, Delaware, took a medical anthropology course as one of her humanities requirements, for instance.

[Read: What a College Major Is and How It Can Shape Your Future.]

An 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and average class size of about 25 allow for individualized attention and support. When Frawley didn’t do well on a cognitive neuroscience test freshman year, her professor suggested she come to office hours each week. Frawley says she “ended up doing really well in the class.”

Hoyas often pursue internships in the D.C. area and beyond.

“Georgetown doesn’t just want students to learn, they want them to do,” says Janice Negvesky, a senior from Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, double majoring in government and history. Negvesky has interned for Pennsylvania senator Mario Scavello, a lobbying and public policy firm and Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Research is another common experience. Donnelly has worked on child development research with a professor and research with the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council. Her supervisor from that first experience “has become one of my biggest advocates,” she says.

The school’s D.C. location draws high-caliber speakers to campus, from alums like Bradley Cooper and Maria Shriver to numerous U.S. presidents. Students are a short walk or bike ride from downtown, and free university shuttle buses run to nearby metro stops.

More than 350 student clubs are central to the social life, students say.

“The clubs that you’re in really do, to a large extent, make up your friend groups,” says Jean-Claude Kradin, a senior finance and international business double major from Dallas. Kradin is a member of the Hilltop Microfinance Initiative, which manages real small business loans. “It’s really great to speak to clients and to really build relationships with small businesses,” he says.

[READ: How to Handle Homesickness in College.]

Club and intramural sports are a popular option, with more than 2,500 students participating. And there’s plenty of interest in Georgetown’s Division 1 games — especially basketball — where fans in their blue and gray chant “Hoya Saxa” and cheer on their mascot, Jack the Bulldog.

Georgetown is the country’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, and original Jesuit values remain ingrained today, like a commitment to “people for others” through community engagement and social justice. There are classes like the one on prison reform through which students helped exonerate a man in 2018 who’d been wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 27 years. Half of students do service or community work during all four years.

“You’re really getting more than just a degree,” says Negvesky. “You leave the school shaped as an individual.”

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This story is excerpted from the U.S. News “Best Colleges 2022” guidebook, which features in-depth articles, rankings and data.

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College Road Trip to Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University originally appeared on usnews.com

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