Prefrosh Preview: A guide to Georgetown College

This week, Vox wanted to give the Class of 2014 a sneak peek into each of Georgetown University’s four schools. Today, we take a look at Georgetown College.

In a few weeks, you’ll join the College—the largest, oldest, and (in Vox‘s opinion) best school at Georgetown University. So, what do you need to know?

More choices than you can imagine

Do you already know your major? Are you sure? Considering the wide variety of departments in the College, we bet that you’ll change your major before you graduate. And you’ll certainly have enough options to choose from—Georgetown College offers almost 40 major courses of study. As you’ll soon learn, the College’s lack of academic specialization can be a blessing for incoming freshman. But we won’t lie. At times, it will also frustrate the hell out of you.

Because the College emphasizes a liberal arts education, students must gain intermediate proficiency in a foreign language and complete two courses in humanities and writing, philosophy, theology, math and science, social sciences, and history. Try not to fret over the required courses; you may learn that you have a passion for Irish history, ethics, biology, or who-knows-what. However, plenty of students opt out of required courses thanks to Advanced Placement credits.

“Required” doesn’t have to mean “boring”

You might be surprised to read that many of the College’s general education requirements aren’t boring. (Although, we can’t vouch for them all.) Instead of taking something like “Intro to College Writing,” for example, the English department offers a wide array of Gateway courses that fulfill the humanities and writing requirements. Gateways are split into three time periods—Medieval/Renaissance, 18th/19th Century, and Modern/Post-modern literature and culture—and each course is different from every other. You’ll see the same kind of academic variation throughout the College. In other words, get ready to choose—you’re going to have a lot of options.

Your advisers will probably tell you to focus on your required classes first. While they’re right, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the other course offerings. If you see something interesting, sign up for it. If you don’t like it, you can always drop it and find a replacement.

Some of the University’s best professors work in the College

As the end of every academic year, students give the Dorothy Brown Award to the professor who “recogniz[es] teaching excellence and the spirit of the Georgetown University community.” Professors in Georgetown College, such as Fr. James Schall (Government), Francis Ambrosio (Philosophy), and Heidi Elmendorf (Biology) have brought home the award in recent years.

But, you shouldn’t discount those professors who haven’t won the award either. (Personally, Vox recommends English professor Michael Collins and History professor James Collins.) When it comes time to register for spring semester classes, talk to other students in the College. With their help—and Rate My Professor—you’ll find some fantastic teachers and mentors.

You already know plenty of College alumni

From Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz (Class of ’85) to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (Class of ’57), the College boasts more than its fair share of accomplished alumni.

As an indicator of the College’s diverse field of studies, its most notable alumni span a variety of industries, such as politics, professional sports, acting, journalism, and philanthropy. College alumni include the Hangover‘s Bradley Cooper (Class of ’97), comedian Mike Birbiglia (Class of ’00), Pat Buchanan (Class of ’60), NBA player Alonzo Mourning (Class of ’92), Maria Shriver (Class of ’77), and The Dark Knight screenwriter Jonathan Nolan (Class of ’99).

16 Comments on “Prefrosh Preview: A guide to Georgetown College

  1. Really, Vox, College is the best? With Pat Buchanan and Antonin Scalia?

    Georgetown College: When You Know You Want a More Fascist America, but Need a Bachelor’s First

  2. @Evaluations
    Can the prefroshes get into the course evals yet? I cant remember when they sent around netIDs and passwords…

  3. Course evaluations SUCK at Georgetown. They only go as recent as fall 2007 (note: that semester was rising seniors’ first one at Georgetown…) and you can’t see any of the comments, just the numbers – and only averages, not modes or medians. If you want a school with great course evaluations, go to Johns Hopkins. At Georgetown, ratemyprofessors is unfortunately the best way of finding out what students think of professors.

    Gotta say though, if you want to major in history, do international history through the SFS. Your concentration can be almost as specific as a doctoral program, whereas the College history major is much more general. Antonin Scalia, take note (he was a history major who graduated summa cum laude, and yes, he is an absolute badass).

  4. Props on the Michael Collins shout out. Outstanding teacher.

  5. Take a Sociology class with Professor Bill Daddio. Death and Dying is fall only and very unique. Sociology of Terrorism/Comparative Law Enforcement are also cross listed as iPol major courses for SFSers. You won’t get into the class through pre-registration, but if you show up on the first day with an Add/Drop form from the Registrar he will sign you in.

  6. I think netIDs went out in May/June since they were necessary for CHARMS.

    Also, Eileen, Ratemyprofessor is biased because most people don’t go on ratemyprofessor unless they have a strong opinion of a certain professor. Do you go on and rate every professor you’ve ever had? If more people did it, the average professor would have far more ratings. It’s more useful to look at the course evals and then look at comments on ratemyprofessor.

  7. dude, seriously? the college is the most stuck up of all four schools at Georgetown. sure they all claim everyone else is way more stuck up but i have only heard college kids brag about how much better they are. suck it, get real

  8. @@Hunter:

    Actually, I do. Even the boring ones. But that’s beside the point – of course you’re right; it’s not the best picture. I’ve also filled out a course evaluation for every professor, though, and before the Registrar changed the rules and insisted that the professor remain in the room, I know that people often compared answers and often had no idea how to respond to certain questions. The student effort required at ratemyprofessors is much less than that required to fill out a course evaluation that is actually thoughtful (especially considering how bad some of the questions are), and you can do it on your own time.

    I don’t like the site much (pretty sure certain people rate themselves), but until Georgetown starts making a) comments on professors and b) the spread of numbers (in other words, how many 5s, how many 4s) available, course evaluation results are not all that useful. I direct you again to Johns Hopkins – now, those are useful course evaluations: they ask better questions and make more specifics about the answers available to the community, often including comments (and btw, the spring semester of 2010 already has evaluations up – here’s the site: http://www.jhu.edu/~merlin/as/Results.html). At Georgetown, nobody sees the comments on the backs of the evaluations except the professor being evaluated – not even the chairs of the various departments, according to one I spoke to last semester. The only really useful thing on the course evaluations site is that it tells you how many papers the prof assigned and whether there was a final.

    Just in case anyone from the Registrar is reading this, as bad as the evaluations are, it would be nice to have evaluations from 2008 and 2009 also available. It would be even nicer if the results were presented in a manner that is easier to read.

  9. College= Gryffindor, MSB= slytherin, SFS= Ravenclaw, NHS= Hufflpuff.

    end of discussion.

  10. @Eileen – I don’t know what profs you’ve had, but they are absolutely not allowed to remain in the room while evals are being filled out.

    @P – damn straight.

  11. According to D. Collins and Zimmers in History, they are now mandated by the Registrar to remain in the room. I thought it was weird too.

  12. I agree that the process could be more effective, but I think I’ve learned more from looking at the evaluations than at ratemyprofessor, especially when there are few or no ratings or useful comments on ratemyprofessor.

  13. Actually, P, reference to Harry Potter is a fallacious argument that relies upon a shaky premise. Hegel discusses this very argumentative flaw in his penultimate book, Untergotterfleinendamenrung. You would do well to retake introduction to philosophy. I find that the students from the college in my lectures often cannot grasp the finer points of the discipline as superbly as the future diplomats and bankers of the world can. Tut tut.

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