Always being one of the smartest people in my school, I assumed that American University would do whatever they had to for me to attend their institution. What I found out is that the world is bigger than me and there are thousands of people smarter than me. If I cannot pay, I cannot attend school. I wish I knew to humble myself and apply for scholarships and loans sooner. Although I want to be successful with time, I am not currently successful and no one will throw their money at my feet. I will have to work for everything.
Regardless of what high school you attended, what neighborhood you came from, or what kind of student you are, remember to reach for your dream school and believe in yourself. I was a decent student with A's, B's and the occasional C. Instead of applying to schools like American, I applied to easy schools I knew I would get into. I'm now transferring to AU because I know now I can do better and challenge myself more and I believe in myself. I know American will challenge me and open more doors and opportunities in the future.
I wish I had known not just how I can afford to pay for a Private Institution, but how I could also afford to stay at a Private Institution. Finanical Aid only covers the cost of tuition, it doesn't cover the cost to live, to survive- those other expenses that occur. I also now have to learn how to prepare for the future and the debt that I will be in. Paying for college on your own is hard work. So I wish I was more financially knowledgeable before I arrived at American University.
I wished I would have known how much time there really is available to complete work. I had heard about people pulling "all-nighters" all the time and I was a little intimidated by the thought of having to stay up all night all the time. However, unlike high school where you spend approximately 7 hours in class, in college you may spend 2-3 hours in class and have all the other time to complete your work.
You need to be very vocal when it comes to your advisors. Demand time with them to help figure out what is the best academic plan for what you want to do. Don't wait until senior year to come up with a career plan. And make sure that after every positive experience with a professor you ask for a letter of recomendation.
That although you do have the best of both worlds- the city accessible by metro while the campus is in a nice green residential area, it is hard to get out of DC. It is very difficult to have a car here, so be prepared to stay in the city most of the time.
I wish I had paid closer attention to the female:male ratio, which I'm sure was published and I overlooked. There are also an overwhelming number of homosexuals, which is not made clear by anyone. This is not a bias, as I myself am gay.
I wish I had know how close-knit the campus community is. I also wish I had known how little financial aid the school gives out, and that they do not give out any more money for the education than they agree on upon acceptance.
Before I came to American University I wish that they would have finished my transfer student profile. I had already done two years of community college and didn't know I would be losing half those credits.
I wish that I had been more familiar with the layout of the campus, that way I would have been able to pick the optimal dorm space. However, considering my lack of familiarity, I got pretty lucky.