The Catholic University of America
The Catholic University of America - Comments and Student Experiences|
First of all, you really shouldn't take the advice of people who have only been to a school (any school, not just CUA) for a semester too seriously. They most likely didn't give the school a chance long enough to last the year, and many people I know who didn't wholly enjoy their first semester really got into the groove of things second semester.
But other than that bit of advice, CUA has got such a warm atmosphere that really values community, especially in terms of service.
I was surprised how great the free events and freebies that CUA Campus Activities planned/gave out were. I got to go to many events around the city for free/super cheap.
The atmosphere isn't super school spirited, at least not when it comes to athletics, but since we are a D3 school with a football team, we have a lot of students that are also athletes so they keep the rest of us informed on what's going on. Parties on campus aren't really a thing, but sports houses around campus throw some decent parties every once in a while. Bars are a common spot, too. But since you have DC at your fingertips (as well as the parties of about 4 other schools in DC) there's always something to do. The Catholic identity is a lot more apparent here than at other catholic schools, but if you're not religious it's definitely not a big deal.
Freshman housing is actually really great, especially compared to other schools I know about. The food is average at best, but there are options around the school/city if you've got the budget for it. Its nice to have a little green space away from the concrete hustle and bustle of the main city and it's definitely a homey place.
It's very easy to get involved in activities and to earn leadership positions if you work for them, which is really great for career development.
Study abroad program is awesome, even for majors that don't get many opportunities to go abroad (nursing, engineering)
People really are from everywhere, but the majority are from east coast between VA and Massachusetts, and Ohio/PA but also a good amount from Florida and California. It's really cool to meet people from all over the country.
A lot of the majors they have here are actually very good and reputable in the workforce, especially nursing, engineering, architecture, politics, business, music, theology/philosophy, psychology, education. I know that seems like a lot but it really is an underrated school and internships aren't that hard to get in D.C. I know a few freshmen that had internships at the Capitol.Overall, its an awesome school that's not too big or too competitive, but still has the resources that larger schools have. They do care a lot about you, as long as you put the care into yourself and the school. You make the experience your own.
I'm a very politically progressive person who was in one of CUA's few majors that skewed to the left. Many of CUA's other departments were definitely conservative. I often found CUA difficult in its politics, as it has a strict speaker policy which usually only allows for conservative speakers. This could be incredibly restricting at times, and I do wish that the university handled dialogue better (however, I do understand that this is indirectly the fault of the USCCB, which essentially runs CUA).
I am also a queer student who happened to come out while at CUA. If you are an LGBT prospective student, I would not recommend this school. It makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. I overheard conversations in my dorm about "the gay agenda" and had another girl confront me about "the lifestyle." As a woman, I felt respected. As a queer woman, I did not. Oddly enough, the staff in Campus Ministry were some of the most accepting people on campus, in my experience.
On to the positives...
I LOVED my program. There are so many great professors in the social sciences and liberal arts (I can't speak for STEM). I formed many great relationships with professors, who often invited me to office hours with them. In terms of academics, CUA was great. They could offer some more modern courses, but that's about it.
I developed a lot of strong friendships at CUA. Sure, there are a lot of the vineyard vines types, but there are many others who slip through the cracks, like myself. While there were many snobby students, it wasn't hard to find truly friendly people. CUA is not diverse at all, however. There's very little ethnic diversity, and almost no diversity in terms of sexual orientation. I felt somewhat isolated. Another downside: the God Squad. I did not like having Resident Ministers in my dorms, as they often tried too hard to relate and came across as fake. Everyone deeply involved in campus ministry was incredibly fake. There were many kind religious people, but these people were often not deeply associated with campus ministry. On the whole, the people at CUA are great, though.
The activities on campus are so-so. There are many clubs and groups, but the events they throw, besides the end of the year event, are often pretty disappointing. I had a lot of fun at CUA, but the events weren't one of the highlights.
You'll find a lot of opportunities on campus if you excel as a student. I am a dedicated student and throughout my time at CUA was noticed by my professors who truly cared about me. I would recommend CUA on the whole, I loved my experience there and would consider going back for graduate school, especially if the environment becomes more accepting.