We spoke to transfers about adjusting to Georgetown

‘Going through the awkward and incredibly forced friend-making phase of college a second time was not an enticing endeavor…’

Most of us spend four years on the Hilltop. We come in as naïve freshman and leave as seasoned seniors. Four years of Georgetown courses, at Georgetown’s campus, eating Georgetown’s food, watching Georgetown games, meeting other Georgetown students, etc.

But for a select few students, this experience only lasts three years. Transfer students coming from their respective institutions arrive (generally) as incoming sophomores, which tailors them to experience college from a whole new perspective. We interviewed two transfers student, Michael Mullaney and Danny Waksman, about their experiences at Georgetown.

Michael Mullaney

Michael, from Massachusetts, is a sophomore in the College majoring in Political Economy and minoring in Spanish and Chinese. He came from Fairfield University.

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Did you look at Georgetown before you went to Fairfield University?

 Yes, I had applied regular decision and was rejected.

Why did you choose Georgetown over other options?

 In addition to the benefits of DC, Georgetown’s language programs, extensive alumni network and diverse student body, the financial aid was key in my decision. Ultimately, no matter how much a prospective student likes a school, it all comes down to whether or not it is a financially sound decision, so a do-able (but not exactly ideal) scholarship was the end deciding factor.

What did you think about the school before you got here? Preconceptions? Stereotypes? Ideals?

 I imagined an intensely liberal environment as DC in it of itself is very left, but also politically charged. I was hoping it would be a community that was not only left, but also accepting to ideas that didn’t always accord to their own. I also imagined a diverse student body, accomplished and well traveled students, as well as generally friendly people. 

What do you realistically think about the school now?  

I, unfortunately, do not find the general student body as politically tolerant as I imagined or hoped. I, myself, am not even a stringent conservative, but it is frustrating to think a University so global and so diverse can form itself into the bubble that it is. That being said, there is a wide array of ideas and discussions that permeate our very exciting and intellectual campus. I am learning new things every day from genuinely kind and good-intentioned students. Faculty are engaged and I almost always remind myself that I ought to be grateful for the opportunity I was given to attend Georgetown.

Was it a smooth transition? What were some of the difficulties in your first few months here?

Going through the awkward and incredibly forced friend-making phase of college a second time was not an enticing endeavor, but I found it a lot easier at Georgetown than at Fairfield. This is mainly because fellow transfers were so open to making friends, and we were also much more relaxed and genuine when we met one another. Breaking into the already-formed social cliques of my fellow sophomores, however, proved to be challenging. Overall, the transition was smooth (though I still would say I am adjusting).

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What has been the most surprising/unexpected aspect of your transition?

I knew academics would be more difficult here, but the general standard to which students hold themselves is incredibly high and definitely not something I experienced at my old school. This contributes to a more intense school atmosphere. In many cases, I see students consider it normal to go to bed at 3am every night, to get five hours of sleep, habits that would be considered excessive and ridiculous at Fairfield. While this isn’t surprising among a crowd of high achievers, it remains unsettling.

What is the biggest difference between your old school and Georgetown?

The diversity. My old school was also Jesuit, but while people complain about Georgetown being homogenous or overly-Catholic, I cannot help but laugh. Fairfield was over 80% white and majority of students were of Irish-Italian Catholic origins. The diversity was congregated into athletics, which perpetuated stereotypes. Across the hilltops are students from not only the entire country, but the entire world. This is a component of Georgetown I am particularly grateful for because it was something I sincerely craved at my old school and it is something many students across the US crave.

What do you like and dislike about Georgetown now?

As mentioned previously, the competitiveness is both a pro and a con. It stimulates competition, success and thrivers among Hoyas. At the same time, it can encourage people to disregard social aspirations, to only pursue Law School, Med School, or a Wall Street internship. I wish more students would recognize that the status quo of achievement is not the best mold for everyone. Also, I wish students would be more grateful. As a transfer, I am new to this world-renowned institution. I am fully aware that not all colleges are as amazing as the one I now call my own, but for students who have only ever known Georgetown, they become numb to their privilege.


Danny Waksman

Danny, from Maryland, is a sophomore in the MSB, studying finance and marketing. He transferred from George Washington University

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Did you look at Georgetown at first?

Nope, looking at Georgetown was like looking at Harvard; probably wouldn’t get in.

Why did you choose to go to Georgetown over other options you had?

I had a tough choice between staying at GW or moving on to Georgetown. At GW I was so established: had a killer GPA, worked little, had great friends… But despite all of this I felt like something didn’t click, that as if the watch mechanism that was my life had one gear that was a little too small. I thought a fresh start at Georgetown would be cool. Also, the business school being so prestigious here would help me nail a job in NYC after I graduated. Finally, I would have school spirit for the place I had. I own zero GW shirts and already own 5+ Georgetown shirts which speaks to some internal happiness here.

What did you think about the school before you got here? Preconceptions? Stereotypes? Ideals?

I heard that people were spoiled brats. I heard that people were not substantive and all rich kids did cocaine. I also thought Georgetown would be as easy as GW, which is wrong.

What do you actually think about this school now that you have been here for a while?  

This school is far harder than GW and my grades are not as good as they were. However, the people here are substantive and while there are a lot of rich people here that does not make them bad by any means. Everybody here is kind, driven, and good hearted. 

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Was it a smooth transition? What were some of the challenges you faced in your first few months here?

No, it was not a smooth transition by any means. I had the best time of my life in the summer, and I lost everything for a school I came in on a whim. I was a transfer student who did not know a soul, and I did not like the transfer community at first, so I felt trapped. Like now what? I was even starting a transfer app back to GW for spring admission. Never finished that app, never will. 

What has been the most surprising/unexpected aspect of your transition?

How much it would suck in the beginning. God, worst thing ever. Freshman year moving in was exciting and there were all these new faces. But when I moved into McCarthy it was empty, and I felt so lost and alone. I built such a great lifestyle for myself at GW, and when I got to GU I dropped my kingdom and reduced it to nothing. It all hit me at first, and I forgot why I transferred; I still do forget today but I am happy where I am. Still, sometimes it does not hit me I go here and that first week, knowing I had nothing again was such a disgusting feeling.

What is the most obvious difference between George Washington and Georgetown?

I thought these schools would be very similar. Both are in DC, both are political and have a similar student base. With that said, the schools are super different. Georgetown feels like a small town outside of DC. GW is really a part of it. I no longer feel like a DC resident but a college student which is both good and bad. Having a campus makes life very different from foods, to escaping campus, to activities, it’s all different. 

What do you like and dislike about Georgetown now?

What I like is mentioned above, I love the school spirit, the beauty, the name, the people. I like how everybody here is so driven yet so kind and humble. What I do not like, which is funny because it is something I do like, is how everybody is so driven. It is so competitive. At GW people used to ask me to tutor them or help them with homework almost everyday and here it almost feels like I’m the one who needs to be tutored. Everybody is always working hard and it gives you a pressure to work hard as well. Students here need to relax and chill a little bit. Work is important but you don’t have to go the extra mile every night and do the optional reading.

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