The Pros and Cons of Studying in the USA: Washington D.C. | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

The Pros and Cons of Studying in the USA: Washington D.C.


The American Institute of Economic Research ranks Washington D.C. third in their top ten cities that attract university students. Thousands of young adults study in America’s capital city, taking advantage of political and professional organisations that represent almost every field of study. D.C. offers its residents many advantages and relatively few drawbacks. EDUopinions decided to take a closer look at studying in this city.

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Pros of Studying in Washington D.C.


Energetic Atmosphere

Washington seems to buzz with a frisson of opportunity. The city is awash with activities, organisations, non-profits, political offices, and well-known corporations. If you take a stroll along the National Mall on a warm summer’s evening, it is obvious that while driven and focused, the people are also open to fun. Organised kickball and soccer leagues meet to play in the shadow of the Washington Monument. People run along well-groomed trails to the Lincoln Memorial, or read quietly on benches lining the beautiful waters of the Jefferson Memorial.


Limitless Attractions



The D.C. cultural scene is rich with restaurants, bars, festivals, and theatres to entertain and enliven student life. From the numerous Smithsonian museums lining Constitution and Independence Avenues to monuments of granite on the National Mall, residents and tourists alike could spend years exploring D.C. If visiting the sites is not your thing, the dining and shopping scene is similarly extensive. In addition to the more permanent attractions, national concerts, parades, marches and other events take place throughout the year. For students hoping to experience a range of American traditions, this is the place to be. On a weekend spent outside city limits, nearby states Virginia and Maryland offer even more to explore.


Enriching Experiences for Every Field of Study

As the seat of the American federal government, there are internships and jobs for students studying law, public policy, or political science abound. Beyond these more traditional D.C. majors, healthcare, history, art, education, and museum science students are especially well-placed for research opportunities and field experiences in a variety of institutes and organisations. Given the close proximity to government offices and agencies, D.C. professionals and politicians are often available to students as speakers, adjunct professors, employers, and mentors.


Universities to Choose From

Washington D.C. is home to several universities, with Georgetown, George Washington, American, Catholic and Howard being among the most well-known. This allows students who have prioritised D.C. as a destination a few options when compiling applications. Outside the city, schools like George Mason in Northern Virginia and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland offer nearby campuses with direct access to all the city has to offer.




The Cons


Cost of Living

Perhaps the most prohibitive aspect of life in D.C. is the cost of living. Though there are many different areas that offer appealing housing options, very few of those options will be cheap. Students should expect to spend between $1700 and $3000 on housing, which will vary depending on the size and location of the unit and how many roommates will be sharing the cost. Beyond that, utilities, food, public transportation, and travel costs are expensive and add up quickly on a student budget. Coupled with the average cost of college attendance (which, on average, is just short of $30,000), this may be a prohibitive factor for prospective students.


Traffic and Travel



Like most major cities, D.C. residents should expect to plan around traffic when making plans to travel. While public transportation is great for avoiding the worst of rush hour on the road, lines for the metro and train can pose challenges of their own. Once familiar with the general pattern of travel, most residents find it relatively easy, if inconvenient, to navigate. If you live in D.C. proper, most university facilities are walkable or accessible via metro or bus. Commuting from outside the city takes more coordination, and students may face difficulty if classes are scheduled near peak travel times.


In Conclusion

Washington D.C. offers students unique academic opportunities against a lively background of attractions and events.


Pros of studying in D.C. include:

  • An energetic atmosphere
  • Numerous historical and cultural sites, year-round events and attractions
  • Endless opportunities for internships, fellowships and jobs in almost every field of study
  • A number of universities to choose from if location is the deciding factor in your college search


Cons of studying in D.C. include:

  • A high cost of living
  • The challenge of navigating heavy traffic during peak travel times


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Written by
Lindsay Willmann is a graduate of George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. She is passionate about teaching, travel and community building, and enjoys writing articles that help students and graduates make informed choices and better connect with the people around them.

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