The Housing and Dining administration is a major problem at American University. They do suit your most important and basic housing needs, however the hours of opperation and food variety for on campus food could be vastly improved to fit with student's dietary and budget restrictions. As for the housing department, they are not as responsive to students' needs as they could be. There was a mice infestation in my dorm suite last year and it persisted for the entire year before the department would do anything about it.
The financial aid program at this university is horrendous. The university goes back on their word and has forced students to drop out because they can no longer afford it. The university tells people that they can expect a specific amount of aid, but when the time comes to pay the bill, they drop it. I was told that I would receive $1,000 in Federal Work Study money, but they dropped it a week or two before I had to pay for classes. I ended up receiving it again this year, but it was not without a fight.
I think the worst thing about my school is the lack of political diversity. The population leans so far left but everyone also enjoys debating so things often end up with people debating about things they actually agree upon and usually simple misunderstandings are blown out of proportion in order to get some debates going. There are some conservatives but they're still fairly left-wing as well. I may be almost as leftist as they come but I don't think the population should be that homogenous.
There is nothing that I would classify as completely negative at American University. The only "bad" thing about American University; like many schools, is the price of housing and the kind of housing as well as the price of the meal plan. Both are incredibly overpriced, however this is a problem that most come in contact with at most universities. That is not to say that the University is perfect, however in comparison with other Universities it is by far the best experience I have had.
The teaching staff is fantastic, but the university administration is far less than ideal. The departmentalization and physical separation of different administrative offices makes it difficult and repetative when you need to get anything done. I've also had significant problems with financing and found that the University offered no assistance. This was anything but the case in the smaller school I transferred from. Be ready to be an advocate for yourself.
It's tough to go here when you come from a family with money problems. So many kids at American come from wealthy backgrounds and it feels, at times, a bit overwhelming to listen to them talk about their life experiences and places they have been. It is even sometimes hard to explain your disadvantaged financial situation to another student, they just don't get it. Many kids here have never had to worry about money in their entire life.
The worst thing about American University is that it is extremely expensive to attend and the financial aid center does a very poor job helping out students whom they deem unqualified for financial aid. Many students end up transferring after their freshman year because the school changes their financial aid package and their families can no longer afford to send them AU.
The university's inability to keep regular shuttle services going in order to allow students to get to campus from the subway system creates much animosity toward the shuttle drivers and the university in general, while also frusterating students and forcing them to increase their commute time from off campus housing by up to 30 minutes each day.
The worst thing about American University is the administrative hoops that they make people jump through, it makes things difficult that don't have to be and causes annomosity. That or the fact that my "financial aid" is a 2000 dollar stafford loan so my mother's retirement fund from when she was a teacher in New York is now paying my tuition.
I would have to say the food. Though they have a large selction, it's generally very poorly done...except when it's parent's weekend or there's prospective students about. Then the food becomes miraculously better. Take out or one of the many restaurants around campus is a better choice.