American University–Washington, D.C.
Expensive as hell
AU, while being amazing, also has a couple downsides. Calling American University “Expensive as hell” makes hell look like a bargain. With tuition and other expenses, along with the D.C. inflation,debt forms faster than you can imagine. Not only that, but there’s a sense of entitlement among students because we are in the nation’s capital.
What it Feels Like to Go Here
American University students pride themselves on being politically active and less about actually going to AU. The student body lacks school spirit, however they’ll be the first to share what internships they’ve held. It’s a challenge to find someone on campus wearing some AU gear. Along the same lines of school spirit, the student body shows very little support for the school’s fourteen Division 1 sports teams.
Some of the most influential people in this country graduated from AU. Current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan spent a semester at AU while interning for Senator Bob Kasten as a part of the Washington Semester program. CNN political analysts David Gregory and Alysin Camerota also attended AU and have been very busy as of late covering the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Rep. Loretta Sanchez received her MBA at American University and she is in the midst of a senatorial election that, if won by her, would make her the first Latina to serve in the Senate. Former AU student body president Sarah McBride announced being transgender the day her term ended in 2012. Since then she has been a part of many different pieces of legislation on state and federal levels as well as recently becoming the first transgendered person to address a major party’s presidential convention at the recent DNC.
Where We Hang
During warm weather seasons, the quad is the place to be. Students listen to music, throw footballs around or just hang out with friends. In the colder months, students tend to spend time in the Mary Graydon Center. When walking through you’re able to spot many of the different Greek organizations in AU’s pathetic version of Greek Row. Tenleytown is just a mile a way, and yet it takes half an hour for the shuttle (or shittle) to get there. Tenleytown has a little bit of everything. There are at least half a dozen restaurants, none more important than the Chic-Fil-A that is set to open later this month.
1. How much are students partying?
“A lot of kids at AU have fakes or get fakes when they get to college because you get over frat parties pretty quick” senior Brody El-Achi said. “Often my friends and I go to frat parties for the free booze, use it as a pregame then go out to DuPont, [Adams Morgan] or U Street.”
2. What will you get in trouble for at your school?
“Getting caught drinking,” said senior Julio Meyer. AU is very strict about being a dry campus. Even if a student is of legal age, having alcohol on campus can get you in a ton of trouble. Students have to redo Alcohol.edu. Speaking from personal experience–don’t get caught.
3. What would you tell incoming freshman about your school?
“College can get super stressful but please, please, please make time to have fun!!” junior Janice Marmol said. “Every Wednesday my roommates and I did something new downtown to take our minds off school and it really helped us cope with stress. These next four years can be one of the most memorable and fun experiences of your life, but it really is what you make of it.”
4. Best spots to eat at?
“I would usually do something in MGC upstairs [Global Fresh, Einstein, Freshii, Elevation Burger or Bene] and then a salad, Pod or TDR for dinner,” sophomore Jesse Pearlmutter said. “Early in the semester I would go to megabytes or Ward but when I ran out of dining dollars that would stop–not worth real money. And then going off campus was a treat reserved for weekends mostly either drunk or hungover.”
“Everyone who walks through these doors thinks they can make a difference. Luckily, with the talent of the professors and the proximity to world leaders, some actually will. So make friends, and update your LinkedIn, because you’ll never know who could be the next face of the generation.” — Christina Howitson, Law and Society major, class of 2018
“AU is a lot of things all at once. At any given moment it could feel like the most or least diverse place on earth. It is far form perfect, but new experiences are guaranteed.” — Jesse Pearlmutter, International Studies major, class of 2019
“The professors at AU are really eager to help you and can be great resources to gain jobs and internships in the city that would be hard to get otherwise.” — Morgan Bassford, Communication, Law, Econ and Government (CLEG) major, class of 2018
“AU is one of the most passionate places on earth. You’ll find people who are passionate about things you had no idea someone could be passionate about. And there’s something way more fun about learning new things from passionate people, so don’t shy away.” — Gabi Gaujean, double major in psychology and communications, class of 2018
“Coming to AU has greatly expanded my perspective on what I can achieve personally and professionally. I have continuously found new ways to expand my network and learn more about myself and the world around me. The professors are always willing to go the extra mile to work with me and teach me real world applications to lessons, and the friends I’ve made are always willing to go and explore the city with me.” — Marissa Langevin, Business Administration major, class of 2018
“Lots of wonks.”
-Matt Newman, Finance major, Class of 2019 (see Top 5 Quirks)
“There’s always something weird happening in the best way possible. This morning I saw someone carrying a plastic skeleton across the Quad.”
-Melissa Baney, Psychology major, Class of 2019
“AU students are smart slackers with an eye to the future.”
-Anna Schwartz, International Studies and French major, Class of 2018
“AU in one word: pretentious.”
-Christina Hwang, Biology major, Class of 2017
“AU definitely has its perks, but like any school, there’s things that can be improved. I’ve had a good academic experience and good professors, that’s the important thing. I’m here to get an education by any means necessary.”
-Griffin Harris, Class of 2019
Top 3 Majors
1. International Relations
2. Business Administration
3. Political Science
Top 3 Most Popular Student Organizations
1. There are nine sororities and 15 social fraternities on campus. Greek life continues to grow in popularity at American University, and now approximately 30% of undergrads rush. If social fraternities aren’t your cup of natty, there are other professional Greek organizations that offer similar, yet different upsides. “Its been great to branch out and meet people that I never would’ve been friends with if not for Greek life. Not just in my organization, but getting to know people in other organizations and being able to be part of a community with really smart, driven and passionate people,” said sorority member Sayde Abrams.
2. American University’s student government plays an active role in many students’ lives on campus. They have pushed for inclusion and student safety, among other things, but SG has taken initiatives to improve the school. “Running for Comptroller was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The thing that made me most excited to run was that I would be, and currently am, afforded the opportunity to meet and interact with incredible student leaders and activists on campus,” American University’s Comptroller Shannon McDermott said. “Their voices being heard in the boardroom and in Student Government is something I deeply care about, and I hope to convey that in all the work I do this year.”
3. There are three levels of sports at AU and the level of commitment required can break it down. Club sports are the middle ground. It doesn’t have the same demands as playing D-1, yet the seriousness and the level of play is incomparable to intramurals. Howitson, a former club rugby player, said “My rugby girls were my family. When I got hurt during a match they checked in on me daily, and even helped me get in contact with a concussion specialist in D.C.”
Getting accepted to American University has only gotten harder over the past two years. For the class of 2018, approximately half of those who applied were accepted. In a steep decline, only a quarter of applicants were accepted to be a part of the class of 2020. The average high school GPA for admitted students is approximately a 3.5. For those hopeful high school students who aren’t the best writers, you’ll be happy to know that AU doesn’t need the writing score component for the SATs. The average accepted students’ SATs scores for math and reading comprehension is between 1200-1370. For high schoolers who prefer the ACTs, the average is between 27-32. As American University’s prestige grows, the competitiveness to get accepted increases as well.
Location: Tenleytown, Washington, D.C.
Tuition & Fees: $43,106
Total Cost on Campus: $57,457
Undergrads Enrolled: 7,259
Grads Enrolled: 3,643
Total Enrolled: 12,371
Acceptance percentage: 35% for class of 2019, 25.7% for the incoming class
Percent Admitted who Enroll: 22% for class of 2019
Percentage of Male Students: 38%
Percentage of Female Students: 62%
Percentage Receiving Financial Aid: 54%
Percentage Receiving Federal Grants: 71%
Percentage Receiving Federal Loans: 67%
Contributions by Elizabeth Lowman