American U is an expensive school

The DC metro area has some 30 odd schools. Some of I had heard about before I arrived here, like Georgetown, Howard, George Mason and Univ of Maryland (Go Terps!). I did know about American as it was the school I briefly looked at when looking around for a graduate history program. Brief as in I saw the price tag and never gave it another fleeting thought.
I inwardly cringe when I talk to people going to American who are also struggling financially. I keep thinking of the associate I knew, whose parents were always struggling, and she went to American and had to drop out just short of graduation. Complete waste of money. If she was going to a state school the grants and other aid would have covered her. When reading today’s op-ed bit in the Post, I was a little sympathetic of the author till I read that she was attending American. I disagree with her that graduate school is for the wealthy. That is the beauty of state education and the importance of making sure local state (or District) governments support higher education. Compared to private education state schools are great value for money. Also, several years after you’ve gotten your degree no one gives a crap of where you’ve gone to school anyways.
As far as funding graduate education goes it depends on the program. Society needs some degrees more than others and some programs produce more graduates than there are jobs for, and so it is not in society’s best interest to indiscriminately produce a lot of specialists. Depending on the program, there may be graduate assistantships (GA) with tuition reimbursement and a stipend, scholarships and grants. Then there are loans. Those really make you think and ask, is it worth it? And if you are not willing to invest in yourself, why should anyone else? I made the investment, and it was worth it. Also it helps to avoid the expensive school in the expensive neighborhood.

9 thoughts on “American U is an expensive school”

  1. Right. Why AU and no other schools? I’m about to start my last semester there and I’m pretty happy with what they offered. Sure I could have gone to a state school back home for 1/4 of the price, but I wanted something more, and I really feel I got what I wanted. I’m in my 30’s and got a late start on this education thing, I stuggle financially, and my parents have never a a cent of savings, but I’d make the same decision again. The contacts, and opportunities have been well worth the tuition. Don’t get me wrong there have been problems, but they are the same kind I would have had at a state school.

  2. I’ve deleted one anon comment and left another because, I don’t like anon comments. ID yourself somehow and take a look at the comment policy.

  3. Yeah, smak those anonymous commenters upside the head, gurl!

    Anyway, I work where I get my grad school education – so it’s nearly free! It was part of my decision to accept this job, and also what I was looking for in a job. It is one way for a poor person to afford grad school. The downside is having to work while taking classes, and it is slow going. I figured out I’m only able to take about three credits per semester and still have a life.

  4. Mari,

    Sorry, I did not mean to violate a comment policy — and I totally love your blog, so pls, pls,pls accept the apology. Since Anon was an option, I thought it was legal and I’m lazy having non-work e-mails I can use for this stuff. So I’ll repeat my question, why single out AU as “expensive” and admonish those who chose AU over state school, but not make the judgment of those at GU or GW?

  5. Why pick on AU? First impressions for one. My first impression of Georgetown was based on it’s history and architecture. 1st impression of GWU was, “where the heck is the campus?” and “is this a real school?” Later, discovered that yes, it was a real school, and they have a hospital and for fun they devour bits of Foggy Bottom in their spare time. 1st impression of AU was based on a college guide that stated the campsus had no trees and that it was very expensive. I hadn’t heard of the school before, knew nothing of it, to me it had no rep. Rep is a lovely value to add to the price of any education.
    Why laud state schools? Because I’m biased and got all my degrees from state schools (FL, MA, MD). With that I think state schools have more of a public mission as they are a part of state/local government. And when one starts going on about affordablity and education one should look towards state schools.

  6. I agree Marie…having gone to a Top 25 ranked liberal arts school, I can agree with my husband 7 years into a career. “Where you went to school doesn’t matter unless you’re in the top 10- Harvard, Princeton, yale, etc”. I believe I took out a lot of loans unncessarily thinking that I was going to some highly respected, top notch school. The alumni network was non-existant (what sports?), the students were rich and international but so what? In the end, I think you have to pick a school that matches your need…tuition cost definitely does NOT equal value. I am now going to grad school at MD and have to say that it’s not cheap, but per year, costs just as much as undergrad. I think those loans are better spent.

  7. Yeah, sports teams help. Even though I could care less about them I do feign some mild interest in UF when we win something or another.
    College is what you make of it. Grad school too. The AU associate I knew wasted her years there by not getting value for money (connections, opps., etc.) and her experience may have been better spent at U WVa* or UC Riverside*. You have to join the professional societies (AND GET INVOLVED!!!!) and do something besides attend class and rack up credits.

    * my friends, if you make fun of your univ, at some point, so will I. Really was UC-Riverside (circa 1986-93) a place for drug addicted alcoholic whores?

  8. JumboChic alluded to my 10 School Rule. There are about 10 Schools in the country where it really matters that you went to school there. Graduate with a 2.0 from Harvard and never join a club, you still went to Harvard. Graduate from American (and I happen to think American is the perfect example right up there with BC) with a 2.0 never join anything and you are behind the kid from Frostburg state with a 4.0 who ran the student council and had two internships. Plus you got 80 grand more in loans.

  9. I am the anonymous that was allowed to stay. Sorry, I’ll post with a name from now on. I know this post is old now, but I’d like to add that AU has some of the oldest most beatiful trees I’ve seen in DC. One died and fell last year and a local artist took the remains and carved a huge eagle (our school mascot) for the Quad. The landscaping and geenspace is very welcoming and they are doing great things to keep the campus green (the new building replacing an old one on campus is going to have solar power and other green technology.) You really should swing by anc check it out for yourself.

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