Unlike typical college students who drift through lazy mornings in the dorm cafeteria, participate in late-night shenanigans running through the quad and never take classes before noon, GW students fill their time running between classes and internships or skipping lectures to hear a panel of media pundits spout off about the latest Washington concern. Indeed, GW students are a rare breed. For the over-ambitious and career-driven, GW is a comforting place to call home because you are always in the company of the equally determined. And while the disguise of classes, club activities and research papers during the school year might allow GW students to call their college experience comparable to any other, their true workaholic identity becomes painfully obvious once the summer months begin.
Unlike in high school where the month of May was spent signing yearbooks with “Have a great summer! See you next fall!” going to college in D.C. doesn’t seem to lead to such a culmination. Summer for the GW student means the opportunity to work five days a week, or to take all those classes you didn’t want to deal with during the year while interning somewhere. The months of June, July and August can only be differentiated from those of September through May due to the flux of incoming freshmen pillaging the campus during CI every week for a few days. While the dynamic of the campus does change considering that many venues are closed, hours at the campus offices are limited and The Hatchet ceases to come out twice a week; if you ask a majority of students here what their summer plans are, I bet they’ll tell you it has something to do with the a government office somewhere in D.C. While the entrance into college often signifies the crossing of a threshold into the “adult world,” any recently graduated senior will tell you that college is a form of reality that is nowhere close to adulthood. Only when the sight of a diploma comes near does the GW student who spent every waking moment building their resume and networking realize that perhaps diving right into a 9-5 career is not what they want to do, since unless they go on to graduate school, summer may be their last opportunity to just hang out, travel and party until dawn.
Of course, this is why many of us travel 3,000 miles, across continents or even just down the New Jersey turnpike for the access to the amazing opportunities that living in D.C. can present. And while it isn’t unusual for other college students across the country to stay on their campuses over summers in order to escape living with their parents or being stuck in one-stoplight towns, the idea of living in downtown D.C. is a far cry from working at the local pool or sandwich shop. I don’t want to sound unappreciative of these opportunities, because I know that when I graduate I will be in a great position to begin my career and start paying my own bills. I wonder, however, if I’ll encounter a tinge of regret that I should have taken more time to hang out with my family and enjoy what summer is supposed to be: a time of freedom from real responsibility and a time to turn your brain into mush before classes begin again in the fall.
I came to the realization that I may be participating in a warped college experience a few weeks ago after I threw a tantrum that any 3-year-old would be proud of about staying in D.C. for the summer rather than going home to California. I was having a fit because I wanted to get an internship, take a second job to cover my rent, dress up in uncomfortable heels everyday, live in the sweaty awful D.C. summer heat, scrape by on peanut butter and jelly, not see my family for another six months and miss out on spending time in my favorite place in the world – my home in the City By the Bay. After I hung up the phone with my parents, I sat down on my bed said to myself, “Am I nuts?” Well, no – I’m just another GW student.
-The writer, a junior majoring in journalism, is a Hatchet columnist.