Hi, I got into 3 colleges and I like these 2 the best.
I'm leaning a bit towards American U but I want to know what you guys think because you guys are pretty knowledgeable
I like small classes, community feel, not a party person, diverse/global feel, a balance of fun and play, good campus/food, good study environment/easy study group areas, just a place where I can enjoy myself while learning in an engaging and fun class and not have to go to parties to meet people (not very extroverted)
I'm going to go into international relations/studies and my future goal is to become either a diplomat, something to do with 3rd world country development, work at UN or a NGO, etc.
I'm a Christian and that is very important to me (dunno if it'll matter in the selection between the 2 schools, it should be fine right?). I'm also Korean so hopefully there's a strong and established Korean association/community or something at both or either of the schools as that is important to me as well.
I'll have to pay 8,000 per year at Brandeis (not including loans)
I'll have to pay 11,000 per year at American U (not including loans)
I also got into the honors program and SIS (school of international service) at American U and my best friend in highschool right now (and roommate atm) is 99% going to American U and is also in the honors program with the same major.
what do you guys think?
edit: oh and i also want to study abroad!! thinking japan or korea (have never attended school in korea and want to perfect my korean) atm but im open to anything
With that said, reasons you should go to Brandeis over AU!
1) Rank - I don't know how you feel about prestige/rankings, but (assuming you don't have any qualms with USnews) Brandeis is #31 and American U is #82. So Brandeis has a significantly higher overall rank; however, for your major, American U seems to be a popular destination. As a whole, though, Brandeis seems to fare better in rank.
2) Cost - I'm not sure how big a factor finances are in your decision, but Brandeis is 3k a year cheaper, so 12k over the course of four years. To most people, 12k is a sizable amount of money. Is it worth the extra 12k (greater than the cost of one year at American -11k) to attend AU?
3) Class size - "I like small classes..." For AU, 54.3% of their classes have between 20-49 people, whereas for Brandeis, 20-49 person classes make up 26.4% of all classes. 43.4% of AU's classes have fewer than 20, while 64.2% of Brandeis's classes have fewer than 20. On average, class sizes are smaller at Brandeis, and if you like small class sizes, then Brandeis wins this point.
4) Student to Faculty ratio - "...learning in an engaging...class" Not really sure how to grade engagement in a class, but student to faculty ratio seems as good as anything, no? I figure if there are less students to every professor, the professor has more time to spend on the individual, creating more interaction and thus engagement. Brandeis has a 9:1 student to faculty ratio, while AU has a ratio of 13:1. Although now that I think about it, this is really similar to #3. Hmm.
That's all I have at the moment. Although to be fair to AU, it might be easier as a Christian, you may see a more established support system for the KoAm community (could be wrong about this), you got into their honors program, and IR seems to be strong at AU.
I am pretty familar with both schools and don't really have a bias either way. Here's my $.02:
1. Rankings aside, Brandeis is a better school on almost all levels than AU. AU is quite strong in certain areas, such as international studies, public affairs, and communications. But in other areas, such as the natural sciences, it is remarkably weak. Brandeis is much better balanced as a university, and both its students and faculty are overall stronger.
2. SIS is the largest such school anywhere. It will, therefore, have many more faculty and courses in international studies than Brandeis will. But that, frankly, is of little value or importance to undergraduates. As an undergraduate studying international studies, you need to take some basic courses in international relations (a subfield of political science), economics and international economics, history, foreign languages and area studies. That's a lot, and when you add in basic other things necessary to be an educated person (such as English and writing, philosophy, and some math and science) you really have no time to take many very advanced courses like SIS offers. Brandeis has more than enough to keep you very busy for four years. And some of the faculty at Brandeis are better than anyone at SIS. Bob Art, for instance, is one of the top 5 people in the country in strategic studies (he is full time at Brandeis but also is on the faculties of Harvard and MIT).
3. Brandeis' facilities are, in general, stronger. AU has 10,000 students jammed into a tiny 80 acre campus. Brandeis has half that number of students on 240 acres. It makes a huge difference.
4. The school culture is quite different between the two places. AU was founded by Bishop Hurst, a Methodist bishop, before WW I but the school remained very small until after WW II. It then expanded greatly, mostly due to the GI bill. So, in reality, it is about the same age as Brandeis. It has improved academically a great deal over the years but it has never thought of itself as a top institution. It views its main competition as GWU.
Brandeis, on the other hand, was founded in 1948 (the same year as Israel) by the American Jewish community to be a top flight, non-sectarian university that would never use the type of quota system that was then prevalent at top universities to keep down the numbers of Jews, Asians and other minorities. It was almost instantly included in the top eschelon of universities. It views its competition as the top 30 or so universities. It also has a very strong committment to the ideas of social justice expounded by Justice Brandeis. It looks and feels like a richer university than AU.
5. Both DC and Boston are great college cities but DC has far more internship possibilities for a student of international studies. It is, after all, the capital of a world superpower. But there are also far more students studying international studies in DC, so difference may not be as great as you might think.
The long and the short of it is Brandeis is clearly the better school. And, money being equal, I always advocate going to the better school. But here, the better school is actually cheaper. Seems like a no brainer.
I'm biased in favor of Brandeis, and think it's a much better school than American.
For one thing, I graduated from Brandeis, although it was in the dinosaur era -- 1967.
Brandeis has never been as well known as it should be. It has a superb program in math and science, and a high acceptance rate for students going to medical school. It has developed quite a track record in social science research. It has a broad range of foreign language and linguistics offerings, with some ancient languages that are of interest to people pursuing Near Eastern archaeology, etc.
Frankly, having taken a year of college Hebrew at American, several years ago, I did not see students who were anywhere near as bright and committed as those at Brandeis. In fact, I saw all too many kids who appeared to be there because their parents were insisting that they go to college, and paying the bill, but who were not terribly good students, spending most of their time partying. On the downside, many Brandeis students do tend to be "geeky", less interested in typical college social activities like dances and pep rallies, and somewhat socially immature, though intellectually very advanced.
Brandeis was founded under Jewish auspices, and adheres to Jewish values with regard to ethics, the dignity of people, etc. Its schedule makes it possible for Orthodox Jewish students to observe holidays, and it offers several varieties of religious services for the various branches of Judaism; it also offers Kosher food for those students who require it. However, it is distinctly non-sectarian in all other respects. It has a large international community of students and faculty, and tries to ensure that all of the students' cultural and religious beliefs are respected. Muslims are welcome, and respectful dialogue on the Middle East is promoted; Arabic is taught.
Brandeis has always had active Protestant and Catholic student organizations, with religious services and other activities. The school actually has three chapels of equal size -- Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant -- and other buildings are used for religious activities, as appropriate. Because of its liberal politics and social attitudes, it may not be the best place for Christians with very conservative viewpoints, such as some Evangelicals, and since Jews do not believe in proselytising, the school will probably not be too happy with students who constantly try to convert others. However, people who belong to mainstream and liberal Christian churches, including those that attract many Asians, should do just fine. Since Boston is very diverse, students can also find places to pursue their religious activities off campus, as well.
American University is also non-sectarian and welcomes people of various ethnicities and religions. And of course, it is located in Washington, DC, with its large international community. DC and its suburbs have many Asians, including Koreans. Korean Christian churches exist.
Both colleges have an attractive, modern campus. American is located closer to downtown DC than Brandeis is to Waltham.
Both colleges have an interest in politics and international affairs. Students and faculty at Brandeis appear to be a bit more liberal/radical than those at American University, but all shades of opinion are welcome. Brandeis has a stronger history of social protest, and was very visible in protesting U.S. actions during the VietNam era.
Both schools are well-funded, with many private donors. Brandeis still has very strong support from the affluent Jewish community, but also receives financial support from others.
All in all, I think that Brandeis would be better for you if you want a more rigorous academic program, with stellar faculty and intensely involved students. You can practice your religion at either school, with strong support from the international community . Washington, DC is somewhat more internationally focused than Boston, but Brandeis has always been welcoming to people from all over the world; back in the 60s, it had far more African students, for example, than many American universities; many of these students were being groomed to become leaders of their emerging nations. Brandeis may be more politically and socially liberal than American.
I am trying to convince my 16 year old daughter, whom I adopted from China, to apply to Brandeis next year. American may be one of her "safety" schools.
I meant, of course, that AU is closer to downtown DC than Brandeis is to downtown Boston. Brandeis is in Waltham, which was a gritty, blue collar town when I went there; the town/gown conflicts were significant. Today, however, Waltham is much different, and has some trendy restaurants and such, but if you want to get to Boston or Cambridge, it will take you longer.
wow, thank you for the insightful and very detailed posts.
I was near convinced that I would go to AU after reading the posts in the topic there but right now I am torn again. I guess it will be up to the college visits as I'm visiting them both within the next 2 weeks. Both seem like amazing schools and with the amount of aid they gave me its so hard to choose D:
A note on the Korean thing: our Korean Student Association is definitely one of the better-known clubs and very involved in campus life. They're also really intense about everything they do but nice people nevertheless.
hey all, I just wanted to update on my college decisions.
I visited brandeis today with my mom and my sister and we went for the information session and tour.
the campus was kind of empty as it was the holidays so that was unlucky timing. the campus did feel diverse and very welcoming. however, I just didn't get that 'feel' and nothing really captivated me there. academics seem strong and the people seem nice but something about it just doesn't appeal to me. campus was okay, food was bad but im not gonna put that against them because all the students were gone and the menu was limited, dorms seemed abnormally small, way too liberal, a bit too obvious with the Jewish roots/ties, and so on. im not going to make a final decision until I see American but I don't think I 'fit' at Brandeis. seems like a great school but not for me. ill make sure to update this again once I visit American thanks for all the replies!
What a shame you had to visit during vacation! Now there can be no real basis for comparison between Brandeis and American, because I assume that spring break will be over by the time you visit American. Of course you didn't get that "feel" and nothing "really captivated" you. It's the students' presence that would have provided the vibrancy you sought.