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American is the best of both worlds. You get the opportunities of the nation's capital along with the close knit community of a small campus. I see people I know every time I walk to class (which is never more than a seven minute walk). We don't have a football team, which is a problem for a lot of people. But hey, at least we are undefeated. The other teams are also decent, so there is a fair amount of school spirit in terms of athletic support. The dining options when you have a meal plan are very limited. There's only one dining hall, and most of the other options cost money instead of taking a meal swipe.
American's size is perfect. As a part of DC, American is connected to a larger community, with a number of other schools in the area and plenty of access to the city. The small campus is great, and the fact that it is distinct and not integrated into the city make it easier to feel a part of the school. I like that I can go anywhere on campus and be guaranteed to see a few folks I know and a good number of those I don't. The Davenport Lounge Cafe (the "Dav") is the best place to hang out, catch up with people, and do softcore work-- plus it's the cheapest coffee on campus. The library is terrible; it has limited work space, a lot of disruption, and decent-but-not-outstanding resources. American's rep is on the rise, I've heard, but a lot of people have just never heard of it. The administration is difficult to navigate, but they're pretty responsive to direct communication. They genuinely want to work with and help students, and President Kerwin genuinely seems to dig AU (hopefully more than the fact that it's apparently really easy to embezzle funds). Student Activities has a form for everything, likely including the anticipated number of toilet flushes at your next club's event. School pride is nearly non-existent; a lot of students are here because of financial aid, and I'm pretty sure athletes are the only ones that care about sports. We don't even have a football team, but if we did, Bender Arena would still the most action during Obama rallies.
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?
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.
I love American's size. I think it's just right -- small enough to see friendly faces on the way to class, but big enough to avoid getting claustrophobic. Most people in my home state of PA hadn't heard of American, and I had to specify that it was in DC. Others, though, were familiar with the DC area and impressed to hear that I was going to AU. I love American's location, and I think most students on campus take full advantage of all of the opportunities in DC -- just a short metro ride away. I'm off campus a lot, and I'm most excited about beginning to search for internships in the city. Because AU isn't big into sports, I think there is less school pride than on other campuses. However, students are definitely proud of their school, and we have somewhat of a rivalry with Georgetown and GW that makes us stick up for AU. Frequent student complaints center around bureaucracy, which can be frustrating here. It can be hard to get things done in Student Accounts, Housing and Dining, or the Office of the Registrar because there are so many hoops yo jump through. I had an annoying, complicated experience earlier this semester, trying to blue-card into a class after the class that I was in got unexpectedly cancelled.
In my experience, AU has been a wonderful place to attend university. The location of the school is amazing, with shuttles to the metro from which any part of the city is readily accessible. The size of the student population is ideal, there are enough students to still discover new friends in different classes but not so many that finding familiar faces proves difficult. There is always something to be doing in DC and the (free!) venues available to students (like the Smithsonians) are a wonderful resource.
Leah FreshmanReviews provided by: Unigo