Pros: good professors, great academics, nice coworkers, fun research projects
Cons: food on campus is expensive, lack of group projects, awful pay, poor administation, expensive parking permits, constant increase in prices on campus, no pay increases - ever
As a graduate student at this school, you may have a lot of issues getting a degree and working here. Below I'll elaborate on some of the issues and benefits of getting a degree here while working as a research assistant (GRA) or teaching assistant (GTA).
The school has great academic programs and some great professors. However, the administration of the overall university and even the departments – more... seem to have little to know consideration and respect for their graduate students. The living environment around the area has a high cost of living and significant transportation issues. However, the pay considered fair for a research assistant is awful! For a graduate teaching assistant, it's even worse ($12,500.) It is near impossible to live comfortably around here without living with 3-4 other people. No healthcare unless you get a GRA or GTA position. TA positions alone will not get you this benefit.
Each department is different, but expect to do lots of work for your advisors and professors, while focusing on your degree in the off time. As a teacher assistant expect to create lesson plans, grade, and teach for 20+ hours a week. Lesson plans are almost never passed between professors and students, but you may be able to get old lessons from previous students. For research assistant positions students sometimes work together, but there is usually little collaboration in large projects as teams. Most work is directly between yourself and your advisor.
Once you're done with a degree here, I believe you will have learned a lot. This will definitely help you once you have finished the degree, but might not get you a job right away. Being so close to DC you would think there are a lot of internships and connections, but this is not always the case. Overall, the university is great for academics and interesting research areas. As a place to work I would hate to be here for more than the time it takes to get a degree. – less