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American University

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I absolutely love AU. I was never one of those kids that was excited about going to college-- in fact, I dreaded it right up to the day I left home. I never liked the idea of the typical college experience, with the hordes of students, giant lecture classes, football-obsessed mania, and more interest in partying than academics. From the very first day of orientation, I knew I had picked the right place, and what I had dreaded for so many years became even more enjoyable and enriching than anything I'd experienced before. The best thing about life at AU is definitely the location. It's possible to find just about anything in DC, and you can live here for years without ever feeling at a loss for something to do. There's just so much to explore, and so many educational opportunities as well-- no wonder we're #1 in the nation for internships. I usually take the metro into the city at least twice a week. Plus, DC is really good about providing discounts to college students. There are always deals online for free or inexpensive food and the Smithsonian museums are free. I love seeing Shakespeare Theatre Company shows, which provide $15 student tickets for shows that normally cost above $50, and many other local theatres have similar deals. Because most other students here are so curious and eager to explore, I always have people to join me in my adventures. The metro's pretty easy to navigate, too. If I could change anything, it would be the way the administration sometimes seems to ignore the students' wishes in their quest for improving the school. Lately, AU's been advertising with the so-called 'WONK' campaign, which has been hugely unpopular among students. I personally don't feel too strongly about 'WONK,' although I have heard that it was really expensive. A lot of my friends say they feel like the school doesn't care about them when they keep on promoting 'WONK' despite the student outcry. Still, AU takes very good care of its students in other ways. I've never felt like just a number. My other biggest problem is one that they're remedying as best they can-- there often isn't space for events or classes. That's because they're renovating and expanding, so I know that'll be fixed sooner or later. I have actually loved every class I've taken at AU. All of my professors have been knowledgeable, engaging, helpful, down-to-earth, and generally cool. The classes have been small, the workload challenging but not overwhelming, and even the Gen-Ed classes turned out to be really positive experiences. The University College program lets freshmen take special seminars and do activities and trips together, and mine was on the Nature of Evil. As disturbing as the subject matter was, the professor was brilliant, we had some fantastic opportunities (including touring the Crime and Punishment Museum and visiting the Supreme Court), and I made some of my best friends there. The campus is really nice. It has a distinctive look to it that's especially gorgeous in spring and fall (I toured in the winter, when it was gray and dreary, and wasn't too impressed with the appearance until I came back to move in). I like the small size of it, because it makes it easy to journey from class to class or from dorms to the dining hall. It's compact but never seems cramped. The school's really the perfect size, because you do tend to run into the same people, but there are always new faces, even in a smallish department like Literature. Because AU doesn't have a football team, we don't have as much overt 'school spirit' as many other schools, and most students consider displays of 'AU pride' to be cheesy and unnecessary. That said, there's a lot of support at many other events. Basketball and volleyball games are pretty popular, and so are a capella groups and student plays. I believe literally anyone will be able to find a niche at a school like AU. Even though most students have strong personal opinions, they are usually open-minded and appreciate that college is a time to experiment with new ideas and question their own views. A huge chunk of the population studies abroad at some point-- I'm planning on going to London next year-- and there are clubs on campus for basically anything that could interest anyone. My family can't believe how busy I keep, since I perform with the Rude Mechanicals (a student-run Shakespeare troupe) and improv team, participate in all kinds of events with the wonderful United Methodist student organization, help out with some Queers & Allies events, volunteer as a classroom assistant at a preschool, contribute to the literary magazine, and still have time for both schoolwork and a social life. Fraternities and sororities are visible, but it's very easy to be extremely involved without joining one. I don't see AU as fitting the normal cookie-cutter college mold, and I love that about it, but there are all kinds of people here, from every walk of life.

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I think the best thing about AU is that almost anyone can find a place to fit in here. The school isn't dominated by one religion, sport, club or anything else so there's no presure to not be yourself. There's really not much about AU I'd change besides the Housing and Dining program. The food's fine and the rooms are nice, but the rules and regulations Housing and Dining implement especially as a Freshman are really annoying I think the size of the school is just right, big enough that you for the most part can avoid people you don't want to see, and small enough that you never feel like you're friendless on campus. It's also possible to make it from one end of campus to the other in ten minutes if you powerwalk which makes it really easy to get to class on time, even if you oversleep. In DC AU is a well known and well liked school. It's not incredibly prestiegous but it's a good school and people know that. Back home however I have the problem of people going American University? Is that like National University? (which is a school that advertises in San Diego) On campus, outside my room and classes, I spend most of my time in the Tavern, which is an area that has food and tables which is still called the tavern even though AU is a dry campus and thus has no alcohol sold on it. They put on small shows and other events there. Like just last night the Residence Hall Assosiation (RHA) had a Karaoke night there that all my friends went to. DC isn't exactly a college town as it already has the whole capital of the united states and the seat of federal government thing going for it, but there are half a dozen colleges around DC that I can think of off the top of my head, so it is a very college friendly town. Certain offices in the AU administration are wonderful, such as their career center, that being said, most of the administration is annoying and slow, they've been known to loose forms and not reply to emails. You can get things done perfectly well, but you need to follow up on all emails sometimes by calling or going to the offices so they can't ignore you. Often times you end up beating your head against the wall when dealing with Health Services or Housing and Dining. As a whole, DC and AU are both highly democratic. There is a College Republicans group, but College Democrats has about 3 times the membership. That being said, the most well know recent controversy was when College Republicans invited Carl Rove to talk and the coalition for social justice (a bunch of socially left groups) lay down in front of Rove's car as a protest. Public Safety came, Police came it was a big deal. School pride is almost non-excistant at AU. There is the Blue Crew which is basically the pep club, but in my experience people love being at AU but don't feel the need to paint themselves in school colors at games or wear school sweatshirts everywhere. AU doesn't have any classes that start before 8:30 which is very much appresiated by the student population The most frequent student complaint I hear is how the food at our dining hall (TDR) gets miraculously better on preview days/parent days. If they can make better food why don't they do that all the time?

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The best thing about American is our emphasis on service. We don't just want students to have the best GPA or memorize facts--AU teaches students to actually give back to the community or world. I would change the size of our meal plan. As of now, there are three places--the Terrace Dining Room, the Tavern, and the Block Express on our meal plan while we clearly have many other eating establishments on campus. They should all count towards meal plan points. The school is also the perfect size. I can walk from one end of campus to the other in about 10 minutes, which is a good amount of exercise, but not too much! People react in either two ways when I say that I go to American: the first is "Oh wow, that's a great school. I hear their international studies program is one of the best." The second reaction, because of a misunderstanding, and I kid you not, is: "Wait, ok, I get that you go to an American university, but which one?" Washington D.C. is by far the greatest college town in the U.S.! First, it is our nation's capital and is full of history and prominence. The internship opportunities are incredible. The city is only 10 miles in diameter, and there are about 8 universities within range, so you can travel to different universities for different events and take classes at the other universities. What's unusual about American is that it is the birthplace of the Army Corps of Engineers. We have WWI remnants! Eisenhower also helped to create and promote AU's School of International Service. Eisenhower was huge on foreign policy and wanted an institution that would promote international affairs. One experience I will always remember is when Barack Obama chose AU to not only speak at, but to also receive his endorsement from Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy (he didn't choose GW or Georgetown!).

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Overall, I have a very positive opinion of AU. The best thing about the school is how much it prepares you to be in the real world and how much the other students around you push you to be ambitious and get out of the classroom and into the city. I believe the school size is just right, however, recently AU has been accepting more and more students, so I believe that in the near future it could become a little too big. Another amazing aspect of AU is its location in Washington, D.C. As the nations capital, there are so many wonderful opportunities for internships and other experiences outside the classroom that will make your resume more appealing than another students. Washington is also a great college town that is thriving with young people who are also driven for success. AU's campus is in a great location because it is very close to downtown but still has a wonderful campus to sit and relax. The quad in the center of campus is one of my favorite places to hang out. However, I would have to say the one aspect that makes me dislike the school a bit is the administration. AU is very expensive, and the financial aid office can sometimes be less than helpful. There have been quite a few controversies involving the President and his salary compared with what he has actually done for the school. Yet each controversy at AU is a unique experience because the students are very involved and not passive at all. As a side note, the dining hall really sucks too, but there are other options nearby to get food that are great.

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The best thing about American University (AU) is the endless amounts of opportunities to get involved. Although very liberal, AU has groups for just about anything you can think of. American as a whole is a very politically active university. Being in the nation's capital just makes opportunities to stay involved even more prevalent. AU is the perfect balance between a small and large school. What first attracted me to AU was the fact that it has a small school feel, but is located in a very active city. That being said, I wouldn't necessarily say AU is located in a "college town." DC as a whole is kind of the university's college town. Most DC residents know about American University and are kind/respectful of the students. In the end, I think American University is a great school, but it really comes down to what you make of your college experience. Compared to smaller liberal arts colleges that I visited, AU has a much different feel. It's just big enough that you can't really "know everyone," and you always tend to wonder where everyone was hiding when the warm weather hits and there's suddenly a maze of students on the quad.With that said, the school is also small enough to stay involved. Clubs tend to be fairly reasonable in size and class sizes are small as well. This makes it easy to stay involved and to meet people if you take the initiative to do so. AU is also top-rated for the amount of students involved in internships, so it's very easy to stay busy if one has the drive/will to do so.

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Perhaps the best part about American is its political activism. Ted, Caroline, and Patrick Kennedy all endorsed Barack Obama at a rally at American in our arena. The line started forming the night before and stretched all the way down through campus and down to the Law School a half mile away. I was lucky enough to be able to stand 20 feet from the podium and hear all 4 politicians give great speeches. It is an experience I will never forget. We've also had Ron Paul, Jimmy Carter, NBC White House Correspondant David Gregory, numerous Congressmen and women, Senators, Elizabeth Edwards, and more I'm sure I'm forgetting all speak on campus. I don't think there is a better city than Washington DC to study politics, and American does it right. On top of that, DC is a great city with so much to do on a given day. When friends and family visit and want me to play "tour guide," there is never a shortage of things for them to see. That being said, perhaps the one thing I would change is school spirit, especially when it comes to sports. We don't have a football team, which stinks, and attendance at men's basketball games usually top out at about 1500 on a given night. Other sports like soccer, field hockey, and even women's basketball have sparse attendance and often it feels like the only people watching are athlete's families.

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In spite of the pretentious "saving the world types," which includes me, natch, I really do love AU. I do credit my time at AU for giving me a clearer path to a career choice and helping me focus my interests. AU is expensive -- the tuition, the cost of living, on-campus food, everything. That comes with living in a tony area of an East Coast city and attending a private university. Take advantage if they give you scholarships/financial aid. DC is a fantastic, diverse, complex, gorgeous city with loads of opportunities. Get to know all of it, even the parts with (gasp) black people. Caution: AU is filled with SWPL types who pride themselves on their "tolerance" but clutch their bags in the Metro when they see a homeless person. That being said, both the city and this school are internship central, and the "right" internship is kind of a status symbol among students, regardless of what you actually do during said internship. We do have an excellent Career Center. There are plenty of networking opportunities, but it's up to you to take advantage of them. This is not the school for you if you want to tailgate at the games and such. There are sororities and fraternities, if that's your thing. It's not really my cup of tea, personally.

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Plain and simple, I love American. I applied as an early decision student and still think that the day I was accepted was one of the best days ever. American has a great campus feel, while also having a perfect location. It's rare to find a great city school that also has a traditional college campus like AU does. I knew when I picked a school that I wanted a medium sized university so that I would not have huge classes and that is something AU definitely offers. My largest class was around 50 people and most of my classes are no bigger than 30. It offers a unique experience to get to know professors and other students well. All of my teachers have been really helpful. One example is when I took a theory class for Sociology and I was completely lost. I went to my professor for help multiple times during her office hours and she really helped me understand the material. I wound up getting an A in the class! Besides the academics, AU has so much to offer both on and off campus. There are so many clubs and organizations to get involved in, or students can volunteer out in the city. Washington D.C. has the perfect mix of fun, free things to do on weekends and great opportunities to help the students prepare for their futures.

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Although American University may not be the social, partying mecca of Washington, DC (as some misinformed frat guys seem to think), an AU education is definitely an asset for the future. AU students and professors are extremely motivated and innovative. It is the type of school where you should try to remember everyone (from your finance professor to that quiet girl who sat next to you in World Politics) because everyone is destined for greatness. Chances are that quiet girl will create the next big I-gadget. Comparatively, AU has a small campus and some may complain it feels like high school, but AU's location in Washington, DC definitely supplements the small campus feeling. Washington, DC is a great city and most students get internships around the city, gaining the chance to explore different parts of the city. The most recent controversies on campus have been surrounding the quick-selling tickets to the Founder's Day Ball at the Library of Congress and President Bill Clinton's visit. AU does not have much school pride when it comes to athletics. An AU student could probably name the past three AU student government presidents faster than one of the current AU men's basketball team members.

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The best thing about American is its location in D.C. and the distinguished professors. The one thing I would change is the allocation of financial aid. I feel that the school is just right for me, though are larger classes the largest class that I have been in for my freshman year has been 40 students. This enables a very personal relationship with other students and professors. The first reaction is "I have never heard of it" and to those that have heard of it they are generally impressed by it. Washington DC is definitely a college town. American's administration is pretty good, though I question what they spend money on at times. Biggest recent controversy would have to be when the AU Shuttle driver unionization. I would say school pride is on par, there are those who wear everything American and those who don't. What is unusual about American is the amount of political awareness. One experience I will always remember is getting onto the local AU shuttle late at night and everyone on it was drunk and singing. Most frequent complaints would probably be about the food.

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