College Connections: Dylan Vasan at Georgetown University

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Which university was almost closed during the Civil War and used as a camp to train soldiers during World War II? Georgetown University had only 17 students enrolled after the rest of the student body enlisted in the Civil War, serving in both the Confederate and Union Armies. During World War II, the campus was referred to as “Camp Georgetown” for the 1,800 military personnel who trained there. The school colors, blue and gray, were chosen by Georgetown students in 1876 to celebrate the end of the Civil War and to honor the students who fought and died in battle.

Georgetown is a private research university located in Washington D.C with an acceptance rate of 14%. Founded in 1789 by John Carroll, a Roman Catholic who was the first bishop and archbishop in the United States, Georgetown is the oldest Catholic university and maintains Jesuit traditions and a strong core curriculum that is committed to social justice. U.S. News and World Report ranks Georgetown #23 in National Universities and #10 in Service Learning. For the past two years, Georgetown has produced more U.S. Fulbright Student Scholars than any other college or university in the country. 

Many of Georgetown’s 7,513 undergraduates take advantage of the proximity to the nation’s capitol to obtain impressive internships with help from Georgetown’s Career Education Center. Students have the option to spend a semester at The CALL where students live at the Capitol Campus, work at an internship during the day, and continue their undergraduate coursework in downtown D.C. during the evening. During the pandemic, Georgetown allowed 500 students on campus during the fall of 2020, 1,000 students on campus for the spring of 2021, and most of those students were seniors. Dylan Vasan (’20) spent his freshman year as a Georgetown student taking virtual classes from home. Dylan shares his unique college experience along with some helpful advice for students going through the college application process. 

Please describe Georgetown’s personality and what attracted you to the college. 

Dylan:  Besides its academic prowess, Georgetown possesses two things which I desired from a college: a large network with great connections and a small school that can feel like a big one. Georgetown’s size allows for more opportunities to make personal connections without taking away from the vastness of DC and all it has to offer.

What has your online experience of Georgetown been like?

Dylan:  The online courses at Georgetown have likely been like what students at Casady have faced: long lectures with limited student participation. However, the faculty at Georgetown have worked hard to prepare online lessons that effectively communicate the material and have been flexible with problems and uncertainties that have arisen. Lastly, my experience with Georgetown’s online tour: my second favorite tour I went on. Great campus, great people, and our guide gave us their full take on the university – not just the positive aspects you can find in a pamphlet.

Since Georgetown is Catholic, are you required to take any religious courses or attend chapel? 

Dylan:  Georgetown does require undergraduates to take religious courses. Students must take both theology and philosophy – the latter of which also tends to revolve around religion. As for chapel, students are not required to attend chapel.

What has been the greatest challenge and the biggest surprise for you while at college?

Dylan:  The greatest challenge and biggest surprise for me, and I assume for others, has been learning and “attending” college virtually. While courses over Zoom have not been too difficult, I have found that my retention of the material has suffered from not being in person. 

What do you enjoy most about Georgetown?

Dylan:  With the limited online experience I’ve had with Georgetown, my favorite part has definitely been the teachers. Their passion, attempts at humor, and struggles with Zoom remind me of Casady’s faculty.

Due to the pandemic, it is not currently possible to visit colleges and take campus tours. What advice do you have for looking online to get a sense of each college’s personality?

Dylan:  Personally, I never really found campus tours too helpful for figuring out a college’s personality. When I went on campus tours, I would gauge the college’s personality by talking to current students there. Since they’ve already been enrolled, they’ll likely tell you both the positives and negatives of the university. Due to Covid, it may be harder and it may be stranger, but I recommend getting honest opinions from people who have previously attended the university.

What advice do you have for Upper Division students who are trying to find colleges that are a good fit?

Dylan:  For Upper Division students attempting to find a good fit, they need to understand what they want from a college as a school, and what they want from a college as a place they’ll be spending the next four or so years of their life. Personally, understanding these two aspects was simple because of my experience in high school. Since I tried to take advantage of the innumerable opportunities Casady provided, I knew what I wanted from a college and looked specifically for that. The key for me was that I found myself asking two things after researching and visiting different colleges: “Can I see myself going here?” or “I want to go here.” I knew the colleges that made me say the latter were the ones I truly felt were a good fit.

Any tips for Upper Division students trying to prepare for the SAT or ACT and trying to research colleges?

Dylan: It isn’t just a matter of how you use your time but also how you use your resources. The faculty at Casady is not only equipped to help with homework, but they also have dealt with taking tests and finding good college fits. 

Georgetown’s 104 acre urban campus is just minutes from downtown Washington D.C. and has easy access to museums, theaters, and national monuments. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are required to live on-campus. There are four freshmen halls and seventeen Living Learning Communities with themes of academic interests, social justice, service learning, and more.

Georgetown’s 700 athletes are part of the NCAA’s Division I and are known as the Hoyas. What is a Hoya? The most popular tale of how “Hoya” originated begins in the 1890’s when the Georgetown sports teams were called “The Stonewalls” and since students were required to take ancient Greek and Latin they began chanting “Hoya Saxa” which translates as “what rocks” and remains the school’s popular cheer today. 

In 1923, a bull terrier named Stubby returned with the 102nd Infantry from serving overseas during World War I and became Georgetown’s first mascot. In 1962, an English bulldog was purchased to be the school’s mascot and the dog refused to answer to the name “Hoya” and would only respond to his given name, “Jack,” and a new tradition began. Georgetown’s official mascot is Jack the Bulldog, who enjoys Hoya sports and likes to attack boxes featuring the opposing team’s logo. Hoya Saxa!