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The Catholic University of America

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Like many schools in a similar price/rankings point,Quite BrightEducation
Like many schools in a similar price/rankings point, the student body is probably CUAs greatest weak point. As a returning student who was in the army for a while, I found that if you are not a student who has lived in the dorms from Freshman year onward, you will likely feel excluded. I was more or less fine with this but it could be hard for others. The student body is primarily made up of monied catholics from NY and NJ. This is not nessesarily a bad thing but does seem to come at the expense of meaningful student diversity. As a result, viewpoints and life experiences among students are often singular rather than plural, making debate in class difficult. Freshman and sophomore courses were plagued with unmotivated students filling desks, though by upper division most have either moved to media studies or dropped out. Plus sides: profs are fantastic and class sizes are small. If you are someone who wants to stand out and get to know your professors, only a little hard work will get you to the head of the class.
4th Year Male -- Class 2012
Faculty Accessibility: A+, Social Life: C
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I can certainly understand some of the negativeQuite BrightEducation
I can certainly understand some of the negative comments about CUA, though my mileage seems to have been quite different. First: my experience at CUA and speaking to other students and faculty seems to indicate that which major you choose will have a major impact on the quality of your education for your upper division coursework. Not to diminish the hard sciences and the work they are doing there, but outside of Nursing most of the biology/chemistry programs seemed chronically underfunded. Honestly, this should not be a surprise, as this is a liberal arts focused school. If you want top-flight science education, you go to a school that is on the cutting edge of research in that field.

Further, many of the negative comments about CUA seem to be authored by students in, and address, the first year experience. As someone who went to a large state college out of high school, joined the military and then transferred to CUA (where I largely restarted from the beginning) I can say that the 1st year experience at CUA is typical of colleges as a whole, assuming you replace rabid newfound liberalism with rabid conservatism. Both are a product of young adults trying to negotiate their identity in a world without parents. Both are annoying, and largely absent from the 3rd and 4th year experience.

My experience was as a Secondary Education/History Major and I was EXTREMELY satisfied with the program. A few caveats for anyone thinking about Secondary Ed. The program itself has a fairly low retention because it is functionally a double major in Education and your content area. If you are not 100% certain about what you want to do, it is not a great major because the heavy course-load between your content area and education classes eliminates most of your "exploratory" credits. That being said, there are few undergraduate programs out there that can ensure that you will receive a degree and teaching credential simultaneously. This alone is well worth the cost of entry, but it is a lot of work to knock it all out.

The education department is fantastic at CUA. Every faculty member is dedicated and cares deeply for their students and for their Department. They will work you hard. The lower division of education classes are usually pretty packed with students, but the high expectations for future educators (which is a good thing), coupled with the aforementioned lack of exploratory space for those students who are unsure of their career path, causes many to depart for "softer" programs. As a result few, if any, of my upper division education courses had over 10 students, and often half of those students were graduates. The end result was classes that really challenged me to become a better educator in a rigorous environment.

Similarly, I had a fantastic time working with the History Department. Upper division course offerings were always interesting, and forced me to move out of my comfort zone into exciting content area. The Senior research thesis pipeline of two junior research seminars and then a senior research seminar was a great way to prep for graduate level work (which I am currently taking at a California State University) and have a paper published as an undergraduate. I found the entire department to be caring and dedicated to providing a high quality education.

The high acceptance rate at CUA is somewhat deceptive. This does mean that there are many students who are simply there but not necessarily engaged in their education. Most departments at CUA ramp up their difficulty in their upper division classes and have GPA requirements to keep their majors to weed out unmotivated students from those programs. This means that some majors: Education, Nursing,Engineering and Architecture, to name a few, are extremely high caliber while some of the other majors become a sort of island of misfit toys (media studies comes most readily to mind). As with any school, you find the school itself is not what really matters, but the department you are going to major in that truly determines the quality of your educational experience. Your mileage may vary, but I had a fantastic experience at CUA, and would strongly recommend the education or history programs to anyone thinking about those job fields.

On an additional side note: I took a lot of summer classes at CUA, and in one of my math classes I was the only student enrolled. At many schools, this would have meant a cancelled class and I would have been off-track to graduate on-time. But my professor ran the class anyways, and we met in his office for essentially one-on-one tutoring for the duration of the class. I can attest that this type of experience will not happen at most schools. Go Cardinals!

1st Year Male -- Class 2012
Education Quality: A+, Perceived Campus Safety: B-
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Catholic University has wonderful people, good atmosphere anQuite BrightCivil Engineering
Catholic University has wonderful people, good atmosphere and some of the brightest people who have time to talk to you, that is to say everyone is not on the grade hunt or the cut throat career hunt. But, the faculty is underpaid, the administration has a HUGE Maryland incompetence problem. The people at CUA in the Administration, the secretaries, etc. are living proof of JFK's description of Washington DC as the " Land of Southern Efficiency and Northern Hospitality." Sown right nasty administrators. You will meet some great faculty, but also a lot of faculty who are really much too busy with research, but you will get that anywhere. Enjoy the super bright and friendly fellow classmates and you will have these people as friends for all of your life and there is a real CUA network out there. The ethics you learn will have you as a lonely person, but ultimately the lonely person at the top of any organization that you are in. Keep the Faith. Most college professors are not good teachers, trust me I know I am a Dean. So suck it up, do the work and be glad you did not make it into Yale.
4th Year Male -- Class 1986
Social Life: A+, Innovation: F
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