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#HonorsProblems: On being a high achiever who doesn’t fit the GW mold

The following blog post was written by Peer Advisor Kate, a CCAS sophomore studying statistics. You can learn more about Kate here.

Everyone knows one: the perfect archetype of the GW student. This student is majoring in Political Science, or International Affairs, or, if they’re particularly ambitious, both. Their Instagram is all monument pictures. They have a favorite Supreme Court Justice; they already support someone’s 2020 campaign. They attended the DNC, are currently working at multiple think-tanks, and have interned on the Hill. Twice.

For those of us who don’t fit this image, it can often feel like we’re not doing enough to keep up. Honors students tend to care about academic success. However, how can we measure our achievements if they don’t look like this university’s image of success? As a Statistics major, I’ve learned that my victories often aren’t exactly the same as everyone else’s—and that’s okay. So here’s a few tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others and celebrate your own achievements.

Look for Strengths in Different Areas

I’ve found that students (especially Honors students) who worry about how much they’re doing actually already have plenty of accomplishments. Many of us just don’t know where to look. It’s obvious that a Hillternship can go on your resume as experience. But have you considered that your student org involvement can provide valuable skills, too? I used to worry about not having done enough, until a fellow peer advisor pointed out that being an RA is an accomplishment to be proud of. I had to look to my residential experience instead of my professional experience to see that I am successful—just in different ways than my friends.

Make a Plan

If you’re in a field that’s not typically GW (like Statistics), typical career advice may not be applicable to you. Investigate what you need to be successful on your chosen path. Do you need to go to grad school? What classes should you be taking? Are internships important to your field, or is something else weighted more heavily? For me, I’ve realized that the most important part of my resume is not job experience, but the statistical packages I can program in. See if there are similar norms in your discipline.

Sometimes, You Come First

Taking care of yourself should be a student’s first priority. No one can take classes, work, be in student orgs, maintain friendships, or balance any other commitments we encounter, unless you’re mentally and physically healthy first. Be conscious of yourself and your needs. If comparing yourself to someone makes you feel like you need an internship, but you can barely handle your classes as is, guess what: you shouldn’t take an internship. Your needs are different than that student’s, and that’s okay.

Similarly, it’s okay to prioritize what you want instead of what you “should” want. Next year I will be an RA on the Vern. I’ve been told I shouldn’t take the position because I should stay on Foggy Bottom—but I love being an RA, I love the honors community, and I love working with freshmen. I’ve realized that my passions don’t have to align with the choices that others would make.

Conclusion- Stop Comparing Apples to Oranges

In summary, if you’re not the typical GW student, by golly, stop feeling bad about it. You’re great too. Look for other accomplishments, figure out how to be successful in your discipline, and take care of yourself. You’re going to be fine. I believe in you!