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#HonorsProblems: How to Put a Meaningful Summer into Your Four Year Plan

The following blog post was written by Peer Advisor Clare, an ESIA sophomore studying international affairs and Spanish.

It’s the time of year when freshmen start working on their four-year plans, and as everyone focuses on fitting in their requirements for majors, on the best electives, and extracurricular activities, one thing usually gets ignored even though it is very important:  summer.

I decided to spend my summer after freshman year living in DC. However, it took a lot of deliberation to make that choice. While many upperclassmen stay summers at their university or at internships in new cities, it’s not very common for freshmen to choose not to go home for their first summer of college. And there’s a reason for that: after our first nine months away from our hometown, family, and high school friends, there’s a strong pull to spend summer break at home. However, staying the summer away from home can be an equally attractive option: we may have great internship or work opportunities, have the chance to take summer classes/research positions only offered at GW, or simply love the independence of living in a city on our own. Whatever might be pulling you in either direction, if you’re considering spending the summer away from home, here are some tips for making that decision:

While it is important to keep in mind what you think other people are doing with their summers, remember that only you can make the best choice for you. One thing that really made me reluctant to spend the summer at GW was that almost all my friends from GW and from high school said that they were going home for the summer. I was nervous to do something that didn’t seem like “the norm,” and I was worried I was going to be lonely— after all, only around 600-800 students out of the around 20,000 students at GW spend their summers in GW Housing each year. However, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what other people are doing— I ended up loving my summer. And while I thought I was going to be lonely, I can’t recall feeling lonely once— I ended up becoming closer with the few friends that also decided to stay and meeting some of my best friends through my job.

Look into the financial options available to you. I knew that the only way I could stay at GW over the summer was to make it economically feasible. And what I learned over the summer is that there are SO many ways to make summers away from home affordable! I got a part-time job with GW Summer and Conference Housing that gave me free housing and paid a salary higher than I would have been paid at a job back home. GW offers many summer jobs with similar setups, such as Housing, Colonial VIP, Facilities, and Key Depot. Almost all have part-time options, so you can pursue other opportunities outside of your job. I got to do a remote internship and a research assistantship with one of my favorite professors with the amount of time afforded me by a part-time job at GW.

Above all, trust your gut. The biggest draw for me was the independence involved with staying at GW, and in my gut I knew that that was what was right for me. However, that isn’t the same reason to stay for everyone, and living in a single and working for your stay over the summer can be quite daunting, as it requires a lot more self-sufficiency than going to school. While I loved that I had never felt so independent in my life, it can be better for some people to enjoy time at home and with family. All in all, make the decision that makes sense for you.