After a month on the Hilltop, the Class of 2020 is beginning to settle into life on campus. These new Hoyas are part of the 16.4 percent of admitted applicants.
The Class of 2020 represents a diversity of backgrounds. Fourteen percent of the class identify as Asian, 9 percent as black and a further 9 percent as Latino. Ten percent applied from abroad; 8 percent were international and 2 percent were Americans living overseas.
China and the United Kingdom sent the most international students with 18 freshmen from each country. Italy, France, Peru, South Korea and Spain follow closely, sending seven or more students each. One-third of first-year students claim fluency in more than one language.
Thirty-five percent of domestic students are from the mid-Atlantic region with New York and New Jersey as the two most represented states.
In the Classroom
Despite their diverse origins, most freshmen agree that the level of academic rigor has met expectations thus far. Gaia Pipitone (COL ’20) said the academics have been refreshingly competitive.
“The academics are at a good standard but it’s healthy competitive,” Pipitone said.
According to Ethan Craunot (SFS ’20), the workload has not been too difficult.
“I have less work now than in high school but I had a lot of work in high school,” Craunot said.
Required courses most freshmen take include “Problem of God,” “Writing and Culture Seminar” and various introductory classes.
According Otto Hentz, a theology professor who has been teaching at the university for over 50 years,
“Problem of God” is a crucial component of the Georgetown freshman experience.
“It gets them started on a liberal arts education by having them address one of the most fundamental issues that must be mapped to address what it means to be human,” Hentz wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It invites them to think, not just master ‘material.’”
Mustafa Karakaplan, who teaches 650 students, most of whom are freshmen, in his “Principles of Microeconomics” lecture, said the freshmen academic experience is unique.
“I am new too just like you guys but there is something about Georgetown freshmen that I like a lot,” Karakaplan said. “I don’t know how to express it but there is that feeling that whenever I enter the classroom that students are very engaged.”
David Gewanter, an English professor teaching “Writing and Culture Seminar” to freshmen, said students often struggle with transitioning from high school writing to college-level writing.
“Secondary school teachers in some cases will tell you things which are needed for the following year and they will teach you habits which are appropriate for their teaching,” Gewanter said. “Freshmen import them into college and it turns out to be a very different ball game.”
Adjunct professor Albert Pierce, who is currently teaching a School of Foreign Service pro-seminar titled “Ethical Challenges in Life and Literature” said the students in his freshman seminar each fall are eager to be at Georgetown.
“In my experience the students are just thrilled to be at Georgetown,” Pierce said. “What I enjoy is seeing some students in particular learn how much they can learn from their classmates.”
Outside the Classroom
Some freshmen like Arthur Manset (COL ’20) said they initially struggled to find a balance among studying, socializing and doing extracurricular activities.
“I think it’s tough, you have to adapt to a world where you’re on your own without your parents,” Manset said. “You have to discipline yourself and I think it’s a tough thing definitely. It’s a challenge but you learn from these types of experiences.”
Natalie Gómez (COL ’20) said she overcame the difficulty of juggling between social life and academics after a month on campus.
“I did find the balance,” Gómez said. “I don’t think I’ve been overwhelmed by one or the other.”
Students were met with surprise when they moved into their dorms. Alia Kawar (COL ’20) said her negative expectations of Darnall Hall have been disproven.
“When I got the news that I was in Darnall, I thought I was going to be in the worst dorm on campus because of all the complaints I’ve heard from older students,” Kawar said. “But actually living in Darnall has been one of my highlights here at Georgetown because I was able to become part of a close-knit community that cared about each other and was culturally diverse.”
Students in other freshman dorms, like Harbin Hall resident Jaebok Lee (SFS ‘20), said they found it to be a convenient way to meet and make friends.
“There is a huge population that stays in our common room,” Lee said. “I think that is great way to meet new people and make lasting friendships.”
While students in the Class of 2020 seems content with their classes and the sense of community on campus, frustrations run high concerning housing utilities and the slow response time to fixing problems.
“I am a bit frustrated with the facilities,” Pipitone said. “The water is never hot and the taps are slightly broken and make a terrible noise and no one has come to fix it yet.”
According to Audrey Bischoff (COL ’20), food on campus has been satisfactory, particularly the new to-go program at O’Donovan Hall, but bemoan the long lines.
“I am very much a fan of the Leo’s to-go program,” Bischoff said. “But the lines for the spaghetti and wok are always too long.”
Despite the variety of food choices, Cameron Barr (MSB ’20) said the quality of the meals was subpar.
“The wok station is an eight out of ten, the pasta station is a six out of 10 and everything else in Leo’s is a one out of 10,” Barr said.
Besides dorms, freshmen said pre-orientation programs and Hoya Saxa Weekend were key factors in enabling them to make connections on campus.
“Making friends was easy because of international pre-orientation and because people are cool,” Craunot said. “Everyone is so cool and very open minded, at least the people I hang out with.”
According to Pipitone, some international students express that they have not met enough Americans yet and feel slightly isolated because of it.
“I think it’s good that Georgetown is a very international community but at the same time, the international students tend to group with each other,” Pipitone said.
Georgetown did not hold a pre-orientation program for international students this year for the second year in a row in an effort to help international students meet more American students.
Lee said he was shocked by the Georgetown club culture.
“I found it very surprising, the exclusivity of the clubs and how social life is so restricted based on the clubs you engage in,” Lee said.
According to Callia Kharas (COL ’20), the transition to Georgetown has been easier than anticipated.
“Honestly the transition, when I left for college, I thought it was going to be harder then it actually was,” Kharas said.
After an eventful first month, which included appearances by former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D- Md.), Secretary of State John Kerry and 2016 Team USA Olympians, the Class of 2020 is eager to see what the rest of the semester holds.
“Definitely looking forward to the end of the semester —seeing how things turn out, what my grades will be, see how I manage to adapt. I am of course looking forward to going home in between the two semesters.” Manset said. “But I am mainly looking forward to finishing the semester in the same way I started: in a great way, making good friends, building strong relationships and adapting myself to this great lifestyle. Looking forward to what’s about to come.”
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