What Makes My University Special?
Updated: Dec 8, 2018
When I was applying to colleges as a stressed out, coffee-guzzling junior in high school, I remember all of the adults telling me the same thing: “School ranking doesn’t matter.” However, when I followed up by asking what DOES matter, none of them could give me a straight answer. Instead, they all usually fell back on, “I don’t know. It’s just something about the school culture.” Only now, four years later, have I realized what they meant.
If you are interested in politics then there is no better school in the world than Georgetown University. This is because Georgetown does everything to expose students as early as possible to the skills they will need to succeed in the world of politics. Of course, there is the low-hanging fruit; Georgetown is located in Washington, DC. This allows students to intern or work on the Hill, without having to take a semester off. For example, this semester I am interning full-time at the US Department of State while continuing to study as a full-time student. Since I am interested in pursuing a career in the foreign service, this early-exposure will give me the opportunity to explore whether this path is truly the best fit for me before I even graduate.
Yet, Georgetown’s geographic location plays an arguably even more important role in students’ academic lives. Since Georgetown is so close to the Hill, many of the professors who teach here are experts rather than just academics; they practice what they teach. A great example of this is Professor Matthew Kroenig, who served as a foreign policy advisor on Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and as a senior national security advisor on Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign during the day, but still had enough time to teach the Into to IR class at Georgetown in the evening. The professors who teach here really know the subject from both a theoretical and practical perspective.
However, Georgetown is more than just another DC university. Georgetown dedicates a tremendous amount of resources to fellowships and scholarships that allow students to explore their passion for politics outside the classroom. For instance, Georgetown organizes the US-China Student Fellows Program, which gave me the opportunity to sit down with students from Chinese universities to come up with concrete policy proposals for bilateral cooperation between the two countries. We also met with high level American and Chinese government officials, including representatives from the US National Security Council, Chinese Embassy in the US, and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Georgetown organizes dozens more of these scholarships, like the Walsh Scholars Initiative and the International Reporting Fellowship.
Yet, I believe that it is the Office of Fellowships, Awards, and Resources (GOFAR) that is the true crown jewel of the university. Last year Georgetown received twice as many Fulbright scholarships as Yale and more Critical Language Scholarships than any other university thanks to the support that this office provides in the application process. Between the scholarships offered by the university and the “elite exit opportunities” GOFAR through GOFAR, by the time a Georgetown student graduates he/she already has years of practical experience in the field.
Every elite university can brag about its small class size or quality of its professors. Instead, when applying to universities I suggest identifying the one thing that truly defines the school and seeing whether that one thing is a good match for you. Georgetown truly lives and breathes politics; even the math majors here could name all nine Supreme Court Justices. Of course, this university is not for everyone. I know that just the word “politics” makes some people cringe. Yet, there is a reason why there are more Georgetown alumni in Congress today than alumni from Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, and Cornell combined: We do politics right.