College Spotlight: American University

Even though most students at American University (AU) were away on spring break when I visited and no tours were offered, Zach, a friendly junior from Connecticut, graciously offered to escort me around campus after the information session before heading to his job at the campus swimming pool. Zach had known he wanted to be an FBI interrogator and/or profiler since he was in middle school and got hooked on TV crime shows. He raved about his recent law enforcement internship and about how much he loved his experience at American, especially the engaged and active student body.

Walking through the main green on campus, I definitely felt like on was on a traditional campus with a scholarly feel. The academic buildings surrounding the green practically oozed knowledge. It was a beautiful, warm day and if students were on campus, Zach said they would be out on the green enjoying themselves or getting work done outside.

Career Focus

I walked through many of the academic buildings, which were all open. I especially liked AU’s Kogod School of Business, which boasts its own Office of Career Engagement (separate from the main career center for all other students).  When I stopped in, one of the directors told me about the office’s many “treks” they take students on to explore career fields. For example, there was a finance trek to New York City where students visited financial firms and networked with people in the industry. There was also a Business in Entertainment trek to California, among others.

Kogod’s Office of Career Engagement utilizes students’ ideas to help them bring more students in to their office for career guidance. The woman I spoke with pointed to their “March Madness” events as an example. A student with graphic design skills had come up with a compelling flyer to advertise the March career events.

Another interesting fact about Kogod’s Office of Career Engagement is that they bring in therapy dogs for students to practice their presentations to help get rid of public speaking jitters.  Also, Kogod offers an entrepreneurship incubator that pairs students with experienced mentors, grants, networking, workspace, and educational opportunities and it is open to any student, not just business majors.

Location, Location, Location

One of the benefits of American is obviously its Washington, D.C. location. It’s not right downtown, however. Rather, it’s nestled in the beautiful residential area northwest of the city. A free shuttle transports students to the Tenleytown-AU Metro station (on the Red Line), which is otherwise a 21 minute walk. I decided to test it out to see how long the process took. I waited 16 minutes for the shuttle, which took about 10 minutes to get to the Metro station. Once there, the train came quickly and it was a short ride to Metro Center where you can transfer to other Metro lines. American students get an unlimited U-Pass for free rides on both the Metrobus and Metrorail, so internships in downtown D.C. are easy and affordable to access.

Commitment to Learning

American is known as being a learning-friendly university with its small, seminar-style classes and robust Academic Support and Access Center. You can switch majors easily and the core curriculum is flexible and cross disciplinary. It also has a test-optional application, which is helpful for students who don’t shine on standardized testing. Students who struggle with foreign languages will be happy to know that there is no foreign language requirement for students, unless it’s required for a major such as International Studies (AU’s most popular major) or Business Communication. And if you’re in a hurry to get out into the working world, there are three different three-year programs, including Public Health Scholars Program,the Politics, Policy and Law Scholars Program, and the Global Scholars Program.