American University - Comments and Student Experiences|
Generally the programs in the 4 specialized schools (SIS, SOC, Kogod, and SPA) are very good academically.
Overall, professors are generally helpful and willing to put in extra time at office hours.
Lots of the professors are well-connected in DC and will write recommendation letters.
Students are generally well-informed of the world around them.
Pretty easy access to DC and all it has to offer.
Usually the departments and professors are flexible with deadlines, student needs, requirements etc.
The school is has some high-ranked programs and the school overall climbs in the rankings every year (and they are expanding the campus with new buildings for some of the less well-known departments which will surely jumpstart those programs). In ten years, the reputation of the school will be stellar and my degree worth a lot.
Housing and Dining Department generally sucks at doing what it is supposed to. Both are fraught with poor management and services. You can get good food at an okay price (by DC standards) but you have to look for it.
Pretty much any program not in one of the four specialty schools is tiny. Some of these programs are still good - but the course offerings are so slim that you are basically forced to take what is offered at whatever time it is offered.
Lack of suitable labs and tech centers. The Business school has a fantastic IT lab but basically any other technical major is stuck with really sub-par facilities. (This will be fixed in a few years but for now it sucks).
Standards are very haphazard. The business school is the only school that attempt to standardize lower level core classes. Everywhere else, your learning and grade are based entirely on the instructor. I've had 100 level classes that were harder than my 400 level ones solely because of the teacher.
For a school with a stellar IR program, I found that the language department kind of sucks. There are some fantastic professors, but most are adjuncts who are native speakers (and clearly know their stuff) but are thoroughly unable to teach other people.
AU is definitely about what you put into it. To be honest, in most programs outside of the hard sciences you can totally coast, learn nothing, and get a B or B+. However if you put effort in and truly want to learn you will learn loads.
Also be aware, that if you are looking into SIS: Once you get passed your lower level classes (after about two years), choosing your upper level classes defines whether you will actually get anything out of the degree. 50% of the classes are good. The other 50% are complete BS classes that don't teach much of anything so choose accordingly.
On a side-note: I found that the business school was very underrated. The job placement is fantastic, they help you get internships, etc. SIS basically leaves you to your own devices - they can look at your resume and tell you where to apply. But the business school has deals with companies in the area to take only their students for certain positions and (provided you are doing well in school) they will basically give you the internship.
> The School of International Service is one of the best in the country. So many of the professors are professionals in the field and have written in exceptional academic journals. SIS is also doing incredibly innovative work, an example is their Intercultural Management Institute. Plus, the new building is beautiful.
> The School of Communication is wonderful! They are currently remodeling a building on campus to house the school, since it is growing in popularity and needs to meet the technological demands of our modern society. Professors are friendly and like to get to know their students. They work with great companies, like my Writing for Mass Communication professor works at Bloomberg, and my former Understanding Media professor often spoke on different news television shows.
> Terrace Dining Room: Lots of people don't really like it, but it was definitely better than I had anticipated. They have a wide variety, and the brand of ice cream is delicious.
> The campus is beautiful, trees and flowers everywhere.
> The shuttles make it easy to access the metro, which means that basically all of DC is accessible.
> Embassy Row. Mass Avenue is a long road, but our school is conveniently located on the same road as almost all of the embassies!
> Federal Work Study: The school is great about making sure all work study students get a job.
> Tuition is expensive. Super expensive. And after the school's first financial aid offer, they won't be any more generous. There was a huge change in my FAFSA, but the financial aid official I spoke to said that the only change they will make to my fin. aid package would be to give me less financial aid, they would never give me more money to go to this school. That combined with the high cost of living, makes most students cringe.
> Some dorms have rodent and insect issues.
> The WONK campaign is a huge money drainer that most students mock.
Personally, I generally like American as a school. I am transferring to my in-state school because it is tens of thousands of dollars cheaper.
Recently, it has also come to my attention that a lot of students are rather close-minded. Students are always talking about how accepting they are of everyone, no matter their race, sexuality, and I'd hope political party. Most students are incredibly liberal, the AU College Dems is the largest organization on campus. My problem is how prejudiced and intolerant a lot of students are about people who are not liberal, which is hypocritical. Anyone who says that they are independent, people will roll their eyes at them. A conservative will openly be called a bigot, racist, or Nazi. There's a huge lack of respect when it comes to politics. And unfortunately, politics is a huge aspect of life at American.
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