Not Far From Home
Students From the Suburbs
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Updated: Saturday, December 1, 2012 12:12
The appeal of studying in the seat of national power attracts students to Georgetown from every state and over 30 countries. Washington, D.C., is renowned as prime real estate for undergraduate education, yet such attraction is not limited to those who come from far away. For students like sophomore twin sisters Julie and Betsy Abraham, the draw of the District brought them to the Hilltop after growing up just a short drive away.
“I thought that I would rather have my mom be able to come here in 20 minutes if I ever had to go home, rather than have to wait an hour or four or for a plane ride before I had to go home,” Julie Abraham (MSB ’15) said.
The Abrahams grew up in McLean, Va., situated about 13 miles west of Georgetown. Their parents’ jobs in the District and frequent school trips to Georgetown made both the city and the university familiar sights by the time they arrived on the Hilltop as freshmen.
“It wasn’t like we were overexposed to anything,” Julie said about her childhood. Her sister, Betsy (COL ’15), said she tells friends, “We’re technically in a different state.”
“We live in a suburb of D.C. [and] we rarely would go to Georgetown specifically, so it’s a completely different environment,” Betsy said.
Students from the D.C. metropolitan area do not only choose Georgetown because of its proximity to their homes. Betsy Abraham was also attracted to Georgetown’s government department and wanted to continue participating in D.C.’s political scene after serving as a congressional intern during high school.
“People, [even if they] aren’t familiar with Georgetown, view a government degree as good because of the location, job opportunities and professors,” she said.
Lauren Spak (MSB ’15), who grew up in Potomac, Md., transferred to Georgetown from the University of South Carolina this year.
“I was really excited ... to [transfer] to a school that focused a lot more on academics and education and getting something out of that education,” she said.
Spak added that Georgetown’s spirited community and diverse array of extracurricular activities influenced her decision to transfer.
Still, the proximity to home was pivotal to Spak’s choice of Georgetown over another school in the South.
The decision of Mike Oliver (MSB ’15) to apply to Georgetown was influenced primarily by factors other than its short distance from his home in Arlington, Va. Oliver grew up in a family of Hoyas sports fans and attended Mass at Holy Trinity Church on N Street as a child. He fell in love with the school at a young age and ranked it as a frontrunner in his college search because of its strong school spirit, extracurricular offerings and robust opportunities for business internships in the area.
“The proximity to home didn’t affect my decision to come here. If anything, it made it easier. For move-in and move-out, the short distance made it so much easier,” Oliver said.
Although some local students opt to live at home and commute to school in order to save on housing costs, Ashton Garriott (SFS ’15) and many other students from the D.C. metro area still elect to live on campus.
“I didn’t want to [live at home], and it turned out that because of financial aid, I wouldn’t actually save money because [the university] just takes the money out of your scholarship,” Garriott said.
Despite the advantages of studying at Georgetown and continuing to enjoy the offerings of life in the District, many prospective local students harbor a similar fear — that spending their formative college years in their home city might compromise their independence and personal growth.
Garriott originally considered the university’s proximity to his home in Falls Church, Va., as a drawback and did not intend to apply.
“I was planning on going somewhere either farther away from home in the Northeast, like an Ivy League, or a Virginia state school,” he said. “I had thought about [Georgetown], but I wasn’t really planning on [attending].”
After his brother suggested that Georgetown might be a good fit for him, Garriott decided to look into the university. Having lived in Panama for five and a half years and participated in his high school’s Model United Nations program, Garriott developed an interest in pursuing international affairs at the School of Foreign Service.
Studying so close to home can bring challenges, too. Garriott recalled feeling conflicted about visiting friends who still live near home because he did not want to detract from his new social life at Georgetown.