There are both positive and negative stereotypes of students at American University. For positives, we are seen as ambitious, hard-working, internship-grabbing, and very busy students. Many students here have their first internship by sophomore year and many students are involved in multiple campus activities. We are also seen as a very politically active school, and that stereotype is 100% true. As for negative stereotypes, AU students can be seen as "rich white kids from New York and New Jersey" and people who take themselves way too seriously. While there are a lot of people from upper-class NY and NJ, that certainly does not mean everyone is from there (there is a surprising amount of student diversity and international students). Also, while people do take themselves seriously at AU, many people do not do it in a bad way; instead, they are just proud of their accomplishments. A last negative stereotype is that we don't have a lot of school spirit because we don't have a football team or any athletic team that brings the school together. While it is true that we are not an athletic school, and we are certainly lacking in school spirit compared to many other schools, a lot of students are proud of AU because the students here successfully dabble in both the real world (working/internships) and academic world (classes/student groups).
American University (AU) is often stereotyped as a school with a very large LGBT (Lesbian,Gay,Bisexual,Transgender) population, as well as a large Jewish community. It is also often referenced as being a very liberal school as well as one with a large demographic of upper-class students. The LGBT and Jewish stereotypes are statistically accurate. There is a very large gay population at American University, which ties into them having one of the largest Queers and Allies groups in the Northeast region. AU also has a large Jewish population, along with many other religious groups. As a University, American affiliates with the United Methodist church, but its Kay Spiritual Life center welcomes all students and is often host to many religious groups and ceremonies. The school is also in general very liberal. AU is a very accepting university and welcomes people from all walks of life. Located in Washington DC and identifying as a private University, the school is naturally expensive. This I imagine attracts many students from more well-off backgrounds, but from experience, there is also a plethora of students attending AU on scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid.
Some people think of AU students as politics-obsessed Internal Relations students from New Jersey who couldn't get into Georgetown. Everyone knows a few kids who fit that stereotype, but for the most part, it's not true. The College of Arts and Sciences is actually the biggest school on campus (although the School of International Studies is pretty awesome), and most students are quite socially conscious and politically active, which I think is a good thing. But as a Literature major from Virginia who has never expressed much interest in politics, I've never felt out of place. (Oh, and many students here-- including me-- didn't apply to any other DC universities. We loved the smaller size, the campus, and the community feeling at AU and looked no further.) People have also jokingly called it "Gay Jew" instead of AU, simply because there are a lot of Jewish and gay students (although personally, I feel like the gay students are just more visible here because our environment is so open-- students are just less likely to be closeted here than at big state schools.) It's definitely noticeable that the campus is largely female, but not as much as some people joke.
The stereotype of students at American University is that the students who go here either want to change the world or be the next president. It may sound funny, but when you really look at this stereotype it just means that the students at AU want to be successful. We have a very strong international relations program and a lot of students who come to Washington D.C. for school are interested in politics, so it is natural to have a stereotype like this. Students at AU get really involved in internships (AU is ranked as the number one school for internships in the country) and everyone wants to make a difference. I would say that this stereotype does fit a lot of the students that go here, but like any stereotype it cannot be a generalize for everyone at American University.
Stereotype: Everyone here is studying International Relations and wants to save the world. Mostly female, very politically active, liberal leaning. We have the nickname "Gay Jew" (sounds like AU) because we're thought to have a lot of those people. Truth: Yes, we have gay people, Jewish people, and a lot of girls. A lot of kids are in the School of International Service (myself included). However, there are kids studying other things and we have good programs outside of International Relations. It's a balanced campus, very open minded and accepting of all types of people. We are about 10% international as well.
The general stereotype of AU students is that they are all either: 1) Kogod business students who think they're going to become CEOs of major corporations; 2) Government/Political Science Majors who are interning at Congressional offices and want to become senators from their home states; or 3) School of International Service students who all believe they're going to save the world someday. I would say that this stereotype is generally pretty accurate in that most AU students actually do belong to one of those three categories. There are a few, however, like myself, that do not fit in with that stereotype.
Many people say that AU is "Gay Jew" which is very stereotypical and not a very welcoming statement. We like to think of our school as a very "safe" place for LGBTA students, in fact we have an exemplar program for those who seek to join a safe and non harmful community called the Safe Sticker Program. As for the "Jew" part of the statement, I don't think this is true at all - The AU campus is a very diverse campus with plenty of international students and people from all kinds of backgrounds. The experience at AU is what you make it - you can have whatever you like.
Before I came here, I was told that everyone was extremely politically active. I would say that is pretty accurate. It would be hard to avoid this characteristic seeing as the campus is in Washington, DC. I wasn't involved in politics at all before I came here, but as a result of all the different opinions I hear during some truly interesting classes, that has changed (for the better). I love the types of knowledgable and passionate people I have met here. I'm really excited to see what campus is like next year during election time!
I think the most common stereotype of AU students as that they are all obsessed with politics, and although there are lots of students that are, there are also lots of students that aren't. It is the nature of any school located in the nation's capitol to be politically active, but it is really what you make it. Some people get involved in politics on campus or in DC, and many don't, myself being one of them.
American University students are renown for their political involvement both on and off campus. AU students In addition, liberal ideologies mark the general classroom experience as well as many of the student organizations. While the school is remarkably liberal, there is room for just about every political position under the sun and each, for the most part, is accepted with tolerance.