Op-ed: The Student Association president’s tips for a successful experience at GW

Over the past three years, the Student Association has created a home for me at GW. The SA’s main goal is to advocate for students and ensure that your GW experience is the best it can be. As president, it’s my honor to have the opportunity to serve this school’s incredible students each and every day.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned during the past three years at GW is how to appreciate and listen to others. And so, in preparing this op-ed, I turned to a range of student leaders in the GW community who have changed my life for the better, seeking their thoughts on what they would advise new students. I used their advice to put together these tips.

Tip No. 1: Don’t overload yourself. Always make sure that you have enough time to dedicate yourself to each of your endeavors.

With the immense range of wonderful opportunities that our University offers, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. My advice to incoming students is to get involved in our community by joining student organizations. For me, these student activities have included Greek Life, GW Catholics and the GW Equestrian Team. While it’s easy to join the many student organizations that spark your interest, remember that personal health comes above all and keeping track of your individual passions is equally important.

Tip No. 2: Step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t do things just because it’s the norm or what everyone else is doing. Try new things. Get outside of the Foggy Bottom bubble.

GW and D.C. are going to present you with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities during your four years of college. Whether it’s watching the presidential inauguration, seeing amazing speakers like Apple CEO Tim Cook or actress and transgender rights activist Laverne Cox, or going on a run from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, your time at GW is going to be monumental (pun intended). Do what makes you happy and stay true to who you are.

Tip No. 3: Take responsibility for your life. Things don’t just get handed to you, so don’t expect them to. If you want something, make it happen.

Four years ago when I graduated from high school, I never would have imagined my life as it is today. However, I’m incredibly thankful life has taken me on this path. It’s easy to doubt yourself, but don’t make excuses for not doing something. Step out of your comfort zone, set goals and live the adventure.

Tip No. 4: Do service at GW. You get to meet wonderful people while getting to know a different part of the DC community.

Dedication to service is part of the backbone of our community. Our University is well-known for the number of students who graduate and pursue work in the nonprofit world or serve with programs like the Peace Corps or Teach for America. Getting involved in service at GW was instrumental to my own experiences. Whether you volunteer at Miriam’s Kitchen, take a service-learning class or join the Alternative Breaks Program, do service.

Tip No. 5: Surround yourself with positive people, friends that care for you and take care of yourself. Stay humble, optimistic and thankful.

As I sit in a coffee shop one block from the White House, I can’t help but smile about my time at GW. People are going to tell you over and over again that college is going to fly by, and looking back on my past three years, I can confirm that this is exactly what happens. While GW might speed by, the opportunities do not. So take advantage of these opportunities, be optimistic about your next four years at this incredible institution, savor the experience and get excited for a wonderful adventure. Welcome to GW, Class of 2019. Raise high!

Andie Dowd, a senior majoring in international affairs, is president of the Student Association. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

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