University College | For Parents

Questions?

  • University College
    202-885-6737
    universitycollege@american.edu
    Anderson, Room 1014

    Wyatt, Jamie J
    Associate Director, University College and Learning Communities

Mailing Address

Sending kids off to college is often a stressful time for parents, as well as students. In addition to the financial obligations of providing a college education, parents also have practical concerns about their students' first experience living away from home for an extended period of time, especially if students are not accustomed to life in a big city.            

Immediate Community

University College (UC) participants have the benefit of belonging to a close-knit community of like-minded students with common interests right from the first day they move into the residence halls. All UC students are paired with a roommate who is also in their UC seminar, and with whom they will live on the floor with the other students in their class. This arrangement easily facilitates group study sessions and opportunities to keep discussions and debates going outside of class. The Program Associate plays a vital role in encouraging these activities as she or he also lives on the floor with the students and acts as a peer mentor and group organizer. Students rate the University College living experience as being a highly valuable aspect of the program as students tend to develop close and lasting friendships with the people in their UC class. In many cases, groups of students will choose to continue living together after their UC experience has ended, often moving off-campus into group houses in their junior or senior year.

Some Fringe Benefits

While the purpose of the University College is not to teach college survival skills, we've discovered that students participating in the UC acquire those skills naturally in the course of the program. For example, as students venture into Washington, DC for their Wednesday labs, they will take the metro and learn how to decipher the color-coded maps, determine fares based on their destination, and how to transfer between lines. The repetition of doing this all semester helps to familiarize students with the city and it's many neighborhoods, all under the supervision of their Program Associate, who accompanies the students on all of their excursions. Students are able to navigate and learn the metro system without the stress of going it alone. This is true of getting to know the AU campus, as well. Students in the UC tend to explore the campus together in groups, so finding their way around becomes less intimidating.                

Keeping in mind that first-year students are new to independent living, the UC encourages that independence from a secure and supportive living environment. We find that the program fosters a spirit of adventure and intellectual inquiry unlike any other program for first-year students, as the University College is grounded in academics first and foremost. As a matter of fact, UC students tend to be talented, motivated students already, and many go on to join the Honors Program after their first year. The UC offers students the benefit of rigorous study in a supportive academic environment. The small seminars allow for more personal interaction with the professor than would be possible in other sections of the same classes. Professors teaching in the University College are all respected scholars in their disciplines and are specially chosen for their interest in and enthusiasm for engaging with students. Many UC students choose to continue studying with their UC professors in other classes, and in some instances, assist their professors in research projects as upper-level students. Not only do many UC students develop lasting bonds with their classmates, but with their professors as well -- all of which contribute to students' academic success and level of satisfaction with their college experience as a whole.

Rachel Jacobs, UC Individual Freedom vs. Authority

"University College is my home away from home."

Danielle Jones, UC Theater

"I loved being in the UC program... it felt like a family."

Shelby Jamerson, UC Theatre

"I came into the UC with a unique situation. I was starting college with my mouth wired shut after a jaw operation and I was nervous about how I was going to find friends. Being in a UC was probably one of the best decisions of my life because I was welcomed into a community of students and had 24 friends even before I stepped foot into my dorm room."