No matter what year this is for you, there is always something you can focus on or prepare for.
Introduce yourself to your professors, sit closer to the front of the room and visit office hours. It sounds intimidating, but it can only help for your professors to know your name. They will be able to distinguish you from hundreds of students, upping your chances of nailing that prized letter of recommendation or internship hook-up.
When you need to turn in big papers, book an appointment with the Writing Center’s student tutors, who can help with drafts and revising.
Get involved with student organizations, intramural or club sports or community service. Don’t overload your schedule, but experiment with your interests. Attend the student organization fair, and think about Greek life. You could make lifelong friends, even if you end up drifting away from some of those activities.
When J Street gets old, buy food from one of the food trucks parked in Foggy Bottom. Follow @foodtruckfiesta on Twitter to know when vendors like The Big Cheese, CapMac or Fojol Brothers will make an appearance.
Buy a SmarTrip card, and explore neighborhoods beyond campus via Metro, like Adams Morgan, U Street or Alexandria. A SmarTrip is the sign of a true Washingtonian, and branching out to sites other than major tourist attractions is a must when you’re in a city for four years.
If you like to dance, check out the 18+ nightclubs just a cab ride away from campus. On your way home, grab a late-night snack at Crepeaway or Manouch’s hotdog stand; both are GW traditions.
If you are unsure about your goals during and after college, as many freshmen are, don’t worry – just stop by Career Services to sign up for a career consulting appointment. An adviser can help to identify your interests and skills and formulate a personalized academic plan that indicates majors and career tracks that would suit you.
Invest in a comfortable business casual outfit. A classy ensemble will come in handy for the interviews that will eventually begin to pop up as you begin your college career.
If you live on Foggy Bottom and have not frequented the Mount Vernon Campus, there is no better opportunity than exam time to check out Eckles Library for a change of scenery – and a quieter and cozier study space than Gelman Library.
Consider continuing a language class you took last year, even if it is not a requirement for your major or school. Being multilingual can be crucial to maintaining a competitive edge in today’s global job market, and it will also open up more opportunities for studying abroad.
Look into alternative spring or winter break trips for an opportunity to travel abroad or across the U.S. with fellow Colonials to help others. The cost usually shrinks after fundraising, making alternative breaks affordable.
Still carrying the freshman 15? Sign up for a group fitness pass at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center. For $80 per semester, you will have unlimited access to Zumba, cycling and pilates classes.
Cupcakes are a D.C. craze, so be sure to sample different bakeries to find your favorite. Check out Baked & Wired, Georgetown Cupcake and Sprinkles in Georgetown, but also head to Hello Cupcake in Dupont.
Just because you’re all grown up, doesn’t mean you have to forego trick-or-treating. Visit Embassy Row in Dupont to get a side of culture with your Halloween loot and participate in a D.C. tradition. Just remember to make the rounds early, as most embassies close up shop before 5 p.m.
Break into the working world with your first internship. Even if you have no idea what career path you will embark on, pursue job options to gain experience and learn what you like and dislike about different industries.
Also, reach for a leadership position in one of your extracurricular activities. Building your resume early on will make you a more competitive applicant in future job searches.
Stop by the Office for Study Abroad, and check out the programs offered. An academic experience abroad can pull you out of the slump during your junior year by offering a change of pace. Both short- and long-term programs are offered, based on how much time you’re willing to spend away from the District.
Take a class that is not required. Make room in your schedule for classes that you have been eyeing but diverge from your typical line of study. You might even end up changing your major or taking on a new minor.
Participate in a GW TRAiLS trip, and get off campus to experience the great outdoors. Each year, TRAiLS organizes a whitewater rafting excursion, as well as several other trips. If you are over 21, you can volunteer to drive the TRAiLS van and receive 50 percent off the cost of your trip.
Join the Colonial Army to support athletics year-round and become part of a group of spirited Colonials. The $20 membership includes priority seating at athletic events and free goodies.
If you’re 21, check out one of the adult kickball leagues that play each weekend on the National Mall. After a bit of friendly competition and exercise, they head out to the bars, win or lose.
After a busy week of classes, meet with friends for happy hour at Nooshi on 19th Street. A hotspot for GW students and young businesspeople alike, the restaurant is a great hangout with reasonable prices and a welcoming atmosphere.
For some spontaneous fun, hop on the Metro one day with some friends and get off at a stop you have never visited.
Apply for your dream internship – and some backups, just in case. Many of the high-in-demand internships are only open to juniors, so you will have tough competition and should submit your resume to multiple employers. Use the Career Center’s 24-hour resume critique service to boost your chances of scoring your ideal job.
If you do not yet have a LinkedIn profile, create one to build up your online presence for the modern job market. The website will also give you leads on potential job opportunities.
If you anticipate a stressful senior year, sign up for a one-credit yoga or meditation class to calm your schedule. If not, enjoy the extra free time in your schedule after years of hard work. Do not be afraid to enroll in an introductory-level class, even if you are the oldest student in the room. If there is a subject you are interested in but never got a chance to try, go for it while you still can. You never know when a little background knowledge will come in handy – be it in your career or just at a cocktail party.
Consider joining the GW Cancer Institute team in the Marine Corps Marathon, which takes place every October. You’ll be supporting a great cause, taking in classic D.C. scenery along the way and hearing the cheers of U.S. Marines as they cross the finish line.
Plan a spring break trip with your friends. After graduation, coordinating travel plans won’t be easy, so take advantage of your last week off together for a while and indulge in the stereotypical college vacation, complete with sandy beaches and unlimited piña coladas. Great deals can be found on a myriad of student travel websites, Groupon.com and through STA Travel.
Make sure to complete as much as you can from your GW bucket list. If you already have, buy tickets for a Washington Nationals baseball game, and root for the city you’ve become a part of over the last four years. Even if you don’t like baseball, you’ll be sure to have fun and get caught up in the spirit of the crowd.
You can’t leave the District without getting a peek at the interior of the White House, so book a tour of the White House through your hometown Congressional Representative’s office. Bookings take place months in advance, so plan ahead.
Start your job search prior to graduation with the help of the Career Center. With services like On-Campus Recruiting, mock interviews, a great alumni network for networking and biannual Job and Internship Fairs, the Career Center is there to help you as you begin your career.
Don’t limit yourself to a narrow career search: Be willing to explore related fields or even accept an internship, which could lead to full-time employment later down the road. Few jump from college to their dream job right away, so don’t get discouraged if your plan doesn’t pan out to a tee.