• Cypress Bay High School - Weston, FL
  • September 24, 2020

The American University (AU) is a private research institution located in Washington DC, with more than 13,000 enrolled students. 2018 alumni Joseph Walsh is currently a freshman at the university. He spoke to The Circuit’s Alexis Epstein.

What made you choose to go to American University?
I chose American University because of its proximity to the Capitol and the seat of American government. I have access to a wide swath of opportunities, such as tons of positions and internships in the government that I can work in, both on and off of Capitol Hill. This will help to bolster my career. I’m majoring in CLEG, which stands for Communication, Legal Studies, Economics and Government. This major [CLEG] is unique to AU because it is the only school that offers [CLEG] and has given me greater freedom in learning about public policy and how a country functions.

How did the Bay help prepare you for AU?
The Bay helped me prepare for AU by offering great [advanced placement] courses that gave me a head start for AU, such as American History and Comparative Government. American History and my Government classes helped me by enabling me to bypass their equivalent courses at AU and take more advanced courses earlier. Both of these topics are a part of my AU curriculum.

What advice would you give to anyone who is deciding to go to AU?
Definitely get in touch with your AU adviser. I reached out to the person who represented students from the south and he really helped me understand what I needed to do to get into AU. Also, [talking with the AU adviser is] a great way to network and get to know other prospective students coming from South Florida.

What makes AU unique?
AU’s proximity to the Capitol and [the university’s] relatively suburban environment make it really unique in comparison to the other DC schools. Schools like Georgetown and [George Washington] are further into the city and are more bustling and city-like. AU is further away from the city, so it is much calmer. Plus, whenever I need to go into the city, I can just take the Metro.

What were your expectations of American University before becoming a student compared to now?
Before coming to AU, I was worried that [the university] would be much more competitive and stressful than high school and I thought I’d have to work much harder just to stay sane. It turns out that everything isn’t necessarily easier than high school, but it is more manageable. I’m able to make my own schedule that works for me. I have much more personal freedom and I have a great support network of close friends and advisers to help me if I find myself in trouble.

What opportunities have you had as a student at American University?
I intend to intern for the [Central Intelligence Agency] next summer, which can very easily translate into a full time paid job after I graduate. I’ve had opportunities to meet congresspeople and [to] network; I have made great lasting friendships.

Where do you prefer living: Weston or Washington DC? Why?
I truly do prefer living in Washington DC, as the experiences I’ve had and the friendships I’ve made are unique to this city; [the experiences and friendships] will stick with me for the rest of my life. Also, Washington doesn’t get hurricanes. On the one hand, in Weston, [the people in Weston] lose electricity and [Weston] roads are closed thanks to hurricanes. On the other, in DC, all it takes is two inches of snow to close the whole city. In both instances I get to skip class, so in the end I still win.