The Catholic University of America

 Undergraduate Students

College brings with it many expectations. You probably expect to make new friends, join a club or a sports team, and experience life in a new city. You also expect to take classes, get good grades, and earn your undergraduate degree. Your professors have expectations too: they expect that you will come to class prepared, complete projects and exams according to their instructions, and be open and honest about your needs and concerns.

Your academic experiences at CUA will likely be very different from those you had in high school, and you may find some of your classes to be particularly challenging or frustrating. Know that by embracing these challenges and tackling this frustration head-on, you are diving into a true education – one which may be confusing and uncertain, but which will be all the more rewarding for its challenges.

Know also that you are not alone on this journey. Your professors and advisors are there to support you in your academic endeavors. If you feel like you are struggling with a particular class or assignment, you need only write an email or set up an appointment to ask for help. You can get started by talking to your Undergraduate Advisor, visiting the Writing Center, or checking out the Center for Academic Success.


Graduate Students

Graduate study has its own particular set of challenges. Your professors have high expectations: they will expect you to complete lengthy or complex assignments in a short amount of time, and they will expect you to do this especially well. In addition, many graduate students must balance their academic work with teaching jobs and family responsibilities. 

This experience is your training for lifelong participation in a community of scholars. Integrity plays an important role in this academic community, and so at an advanced level of study, there is a greater obligation to act with integrity in all academic pursuits. By seeking to join this community of scholars, you pledge your fidelity to the conventions of academia, and are expected to act in accordance with the values of the community.

This community may have high expectations of you as a scholar, but it also exists as a source of support. As a graduate student, you may feel less in need of academic support resources than you did as an undergraduate. Nevertheless, these resources are always available to you. Talk to your advisor. Be open with your professors. Remember – it’s always okay to ask for help.


International Students

Expectations are especially important for international students. You probably expect a great deal from your education abroad in Washington, D.C. Your professors expect in turn that you understand the conventions of academic work in the United States, and agree to follow those conventions.

Work with your professors and advisors to familiarize yourself with these expectations and to learn about the resources that are available to help you meet them. Not sure how to cite your sources in a research paper? The Writing Center has online tutorials for writing and citing. Need help in a particular class? The Center for Academic Success offers free subject tutoring. Discover more academic resources here.

In order to make the most of your education, it is crucial to understand the expectations for your work. Doing so will allow you to complete all of your assignments with integrity, and have a positive, enriching experience at CUA.