Oftentimes students don’t know what to expect before heading off to college. Here are ten things I wish I knew before attending GWU

1. You do not have to overload your schedule

Many students at GWU seem to want to fit as much as possible into their schedules, leaving no free time whatsoever. When I came to GWU, I thought I had to do the same. I got a part-time job, became the President of a student org, and tried to have a social life, all on top of being a full time student. After torturing myself with heavy loads of work, I decided to drop some of my responsibilities. There is nothing wrong with setting goals and having high standards for yourself, but you do not need to immerse yourself in thousands of activities just to feel adequate next to other students.

2. Do not feel pressured to get an internship as a freshman

Similar to the point above, many students at GWU stress about landing an internship ASAP. I remember getting an internship the summer of my freshman year- and while I did enjoy it, I wished I had taken more time to think about what I wanted to invest my time in. Although internships provide wonderful experience and serve as great opportunities to enhance your resume, you do not need to find an internship as a freshman. Take the time to settle into your dorm, learn from your professors, and make new friends. You have the next three years after that to get an internship- there’s no rush.

3. You do not need to make best friends right away         

Sometimes, students go into college thinking they’ll become best friends with their roommate, or maybe someone they met in class. And while this may be true for some, it’s not true for everyone. Real, meaningful friendships will take some time to form, and that is perfectly ok.

4. Take advantage of the city

One of the best parts about attending a school in Washington, D.C. is that there is so much to do. Whether you want to go to museums, concerts, restaurants, or parties, D.C. really has everything that a college student could ask for. Living minutes away from the National Mall among other things will help you make the most out of your college experience. You will never find yourself without something to do in D.C., so get out and explore while you’re here!

5. Your grades are not everything

It’s important to work hard in your classes, but grades in college do not determine your ultimate success as a person. Living your life by doing things you genuinely enjoy instead of spending hours locked inside of the library will make you happier in the end.

6. Try not to stress about choosing your major

It seems as though everyone in college has it all together, and this puts even more pressure on you to find your major. Try not to stress about declaring your major. Even though you might feel like you’re never going to figure it out, it will all happen organically. I promise! Worst comes to worst, you can even switch your major if need be.

7. Do not force yourself to do something because someone else is dong it

I am sure we all do this- we compare ourselves to the person next to us. Just remember that someone who looks like they have it all might be facing a struggle you don’t know about. Even more so, there is not one path to success. Everyone should do what he/she wants, regardless of what another person is doing.

8. You don’t need to buy your books from the school bookstore

When I came to GWU, I thought that I had to buy my books from the school bookstore. Instead, try renting your books online from websites like Amazon or Chegg. You can even buy used books, if you decide that you want to keep them. You will end up saving a ton of money.

9. There’s no shame in spending time alone

In college, you’re going to find yourself around people pretty often. You have a roommate (or more than one roommate), your classes are filled with people, and you feel the need to constantly be seen with a group of people. In reality, it’s completely ok to spend time alone. Sometimes, we need that downtime to recharge.  


Let me repeat that: You. Are. Enough. Taking into consideration all that I have mentioned above, you can see that GWU offers students a ton in terms of internships, classes, and things to do. Please, please, please, know that you should only do what makes you happy during your time in college. Do not feel like you need to engage in certain activates, whether that be partying, interning, or working at a job, just because you want to fit in with other students. Your time at college is a time for you to learn and grow. You are enough just the way you are, so make sure you’re doing the things that you’ve always wanted to do. You don’t want to look back on your college years with regret.


Becca Paul

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