Visiting with Catholic U was pleasant and informative. Financial aid wasn't too helpful, and the department chair told me that there isn't much offered in the way of financial aid because CUA is a "poor" school. Great. They also told me that as a grad student I can expect to pay up to $50,000. I was too shocked at the price to ask for a breakdown of that, but I'm going to call and Monday and ask about it. They also told me that I was "awarded" $20,500 in Stafford loans. Oh joy. More loans! They also told me I can take up to the rest in grad PLUS loans and Direct loans. Sweet. I'll try looking for more ideas. I also went into Housing and asked about student housing. They said that there's maybe one opening for graduate housing for next year, but they did give me a nice book full of apartment options in DC and the surrounding counties in MD and VA.
So that was really the only bad news. Everyone at the department was really nice. There's maybe only 20 students in the whole department, and the Akkadian class I sat in on had 4 students. They told me that nearly all the classes for the department are taught in that room. The department is in the basement, or "garden level" of the Library and they have their own library down there with them. The professors told me they have a special little connection with JHU, too, so I could potentially take some courses there, as well.
The students said that you can expect a pretty rigorous curriculum and that there's a close connection with the professors. This is good. One of the students was older, maybe late 40s, early 50s, and she didn't seem too thrilled about everything. She said that if she had the choice like me she would have chosen NYC. She said there was too much of a political atmosphere. She didn't seem to get along well with the other students and the one professor, though, so I'm thinking it was maybe just her. Anyway, I wouldn't mind the political atmosphere, I'd feel I was a part of something and I'd actually maybe get to keep up with current events! haha.
The campus was gorgeous, too. Of course the basilica is the main highlight, but the rest of the campus was just as beautiful. Everywhere that I would be is all located right in the middle of campus and next to all the administrative buildings, which is so helpful. I really enjoyed the Arabic poetry reading I attended, too. Arabic sounds so awesome. I really want to learn it. The speakers handed out Arabic and English translations of the poems. I was actually able to pick out a couple letters! This pleased me. I figured out the "-ee" sound and letter "s", both when they're at the end of the word. Awesome!!! I was so proud of myself for figuring that out! I was trying really hard to work out Akkadian while in the class, but that was a little more difficult as they're different combinations of wedge-shapes that make up sounds instead of letters.
Overall, there were parts that made me more attracted to the campus and parts that made me less attracted (especially the money). But looking through the little book for apartment hunting makes me really excited to live in DC. However, I really need to take a look at JTS before making a final decision. It may end up that money decides it for me, as they've already given me 1/4 tuition scholarship, which could be up to $5,000, and they're tuition is already 2/3 of the price of Catholic U.
As far as exactly what I'm hoping for in my education, neither really gives me exactly what I want, namely, some archaeology background and a stronger focus on other Semitic languages besides Hebrew. I love Hebrew, but I want to know just as much Akkadian and Ugaritic or anything else, not just lots of Hebrew and some of the other stuff. I want to know them equally, and I may not get that at either school. However, CUA has that connection with JHU. If I went to CUA and made an impression with JHU profs, I may have a better chance of getting into a PhD program there. Again, JTS has connections with universities in Israel. Buuut...I don't want to just be in Israel, either.
I'll have a clearer decision once I see JTS! ...Let's see when THAT'S going to happen. I don't think anytime before May. :(