If you planned on wearing sweatpants to class, you might be in for a rude awakening.
In my first year, I have noticed that on-campus apparel is quite formal in comparison to other universities. A button down and tie or a business jacket and skirt are not uncommon sightings in GW classrooms. But that’s to be expected at a school where it is not unusual for students to simultaneously juggle classes, an internship, a leadership position on campus and volunteer work.
Of course, I’m probably preaching to the choir: many students, after all, choose GW for a front row seat to politics, culture and history as well as access to jobs and internships throughout D.C.
But the emphasis on careers and internships can be overwhelming. So here is my real advice: the only person you should ever compete with in these next four years is yourself.
Despite the obvious perks of living in the District, it’s easy for a student to sometimes feel like he is running a marathon. At times, the competition to identify lofty career goals – like becoming president – and taking concrete steps to achieve them, like getting an internship on Capitol Hill, add pressure to an already stressful four years.
There is no question the competition is stiff: you are now one of 9,500 undergraduates here. And if that is not enough, you are also competing with students at the nine other four-year universities in D.C. It’s hard not to become consumed by the ubiquitous sense of rivalry.
But my grandfather once told me there is always going to be someone who is more talented than you, and no matter how hard you work, you are never going to be perfect.
I don’t mean to discourage you. I am merely saying that when navigating the complex waters of college, be the best you can be without comparing yourself to everyone else.
If you get caught up in the whirlwind of competition, you will lose sight of the reason that you came to college in the first place: to expand your horizons.
Always remember to be patient and to recognize that sometimes, lessons learned from mistakes actually turn out to be your biggest assets. A world without accidents is a world devoid of the creativity that makes life worth living.
When you move into your residence hall in the fall, you will become a tiny part of a community perpetually in motion. But don’t get disheartened. Have your own standards. Set your own goals and work hard to achieve them. And do not give unwarranted credence to classmates who will try to push you in what they think is the right direction.
If you focus all of your energy on competing with everyone else, you will miss out as four years swiftly pass by.
So straighten that tie. Shine those shoes. Freshmen, it is time to get to work.
Justin Peligri, a sophomore majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.