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Sunday, October 17, 2004
Regional-school snapshots: academic and social life

Includes high-school grades and scores of the average first-year student, and a few highlights of academic and social life.

Public schools

Central Washington University, Ellensburg

Who enrolls: Average 3.25-3.35 high-school GPA; SAT average range*, 440-550 verbal/440-550 math; ACT average range*, 18-23.

Academics: Seventy-five percent retention; most popular majors are elementary education, business administration, law and justice, accounting; professors work closely with students on research projects. Ranked 12th (with California State University, Stanislaus) in U.S. News & World Report's 2004 list of best Western master's-degree schools (non-Ph.D. granting institutions).

Campus life: About 9,000 undergrads. Extensive outdoor program; many students participate in intramural sports; intercollegiate football and basketball draw big crowds; no Greek life; administration making substance-abuse prevention a priority on campus.

Comment: "It's like a private school at public-school prices; it's a little gem," said Ann Leder, counselor at Shorecrest High School.

Eastern Washington University, Cheney

Who enrolls: High-school GPA, 3.3; SAT average range*, 450-560 verbal/440-560 ; ACT average range*, 18-23.

Academics: Education, business, biology and psychology are most popular majors; award-winning electronic media and film studies; 50 percent of Spokane Symphony is made up of Eastern students, graduates and professors; new forensics program (which will have access to the Washington State Patrol new crime lab building on campus); 82 percent retention rate. Ranked 52nd (along with California State University-Fresno, among others) in U.S. News & World Report's 2004 list of best Western region master's-degree-granting universities (non-Ph.D. granting institutions).

Campus life: About 9,000 undergrads. Half the students participate in sports clubs or intramurals; outdoor programs; student-run activities from comedy night to karaoke.

Comment: "Hidden in Cheney, Eastern Washington should catch the attention of more students because of its new facilities and new programs such as cybersecurity and forensic science," said Alice Tanaka, college counselor at Holy Names Academy.

The Evergreen State College, Olympia

Who enrolls: Students who challenge themselves; intellectual curiosity is called a critical factor in the admissions process. SAT average range*, 540-660 verbal/490-610 math; ACT average range*, 21-27; high-school GPA, 3.17 (mean).

Academics: 75 percent of freshmen return; complaints of lack of direction from administration. No majors, just "emphases." For third year in a row, included on lists of U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges," 2005 edition, for "First-Year Experience" (first-year programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis) and "Learning Communities" (in learning communities, students typically take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors well). Named "Most For Your Money" in "12 Hot Schools" list by Newsweek's "How to Get Into College" 2004 guide. For the second year, on the "Outside the box: innovative schools" list in Kaplan's "The Unofficial Unbiased Guide to the 331 Most Interesting Colleges, 2005."

Campus life: Approximately 4,000 undergrads. Free Tibet is an extracurricular group. Sizable gay and lesbian population and a lot of hippies. Popular activities include listening to live music, eating at the student-run vegetarian cooperative.

Comment: "An amazingly good buy for your money," said Audrey Threlkeld, academic dean at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart.

University of Oregon, Eugene

Who enrolls: SAT average range, 490-609 verbal/499-613 math; average GPA, 3.54

Academics: "By bringing together a great faculty, developing facilities and a smaller student body in comparison to other public institutions, UO is a well-regarded school offering a solid liberal-arts education," according to the "Insider's Guide." Professional programs are particularly well-regarded, including journalism, business and architecture, the guide says. The Honors College within the school is singled out for praise. The school admissions office notes that UO has often been included on lists of best buys among U.S. colleges.

Campus life: 20,033 students, 15,985 of them undergraduates. Named by Mother Jones magazine as one of the nation's most activist campuses. In 2000, it had the highest voter turnout of any school its size, and is the fifth largest producer of Peace Corps volunteers in the United States.

University of Washington, Seattle

Who enrolls: SAT average range*, 530-640 verbal/550-660 math; ACT average range*, 23-28; average high-school GPA range, 3.58-3.89.

Academics: Flagship state institution; one of the largest research institutions in the country; great internship opportunities; cutting-edge faculty. Business, psychology and English are most popular majors but "UW specializes in science, and popular science majors are engineering, computer science, natural sciences, and biochemistry," according to the Yale Daily News "Insider's Guide to the Colleges 2005." Ninety-one percent of freshmen come back the next year.

Ranked 46th (along with University of Texas, Austin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Yeshiva University) in the U.S. News & World Report's 2004 list of "Best National Universities" (that offer a wide range of undergrad majors as well as master's and doctoral degrees, and that emphasize research).

Campus life: About 29,000 undergraduates (40,000 including grads); many play on a sports team, usually intramural; students take advantage of the city's vibrant nightlife, arts; explore outdoors through group trips with the university.

University of Washington, Bothell

Who enrolls: Accepts college juniors and seniors in most cases, programs prefer a 3.0 college transfer GPA or higher. Students may transfer from any accredited community college or university. Admission is granted on a competitive basis.

Academics: School provides an opportunity for traditional transfer or returning students to complete a UW undergraduate degree. Several options are available in business, education, computer science, law, environmental science, global studies, communications, nursing, journalism, writing, government and public policy, cultural studies, social services and many others. Advanced studies are available for elementary-teacher certification and master's degrees in business, nursing, education and policy.

Campus proclaims an "open-door policy" of faculty and staff. According to the Yale Daily News' "The Insider's Guide to the Colleges 2005": 'Because of their smaller size, Bothell and Tacoma also have smaller classes (than UW's Seattle campus) and, says one Bothell student, 'professors who are more into being professors.'"

Campus life: New high-tech campus located off I-405, connects to the Sammamish River Trail and is home to the North Creek wetland restoration project. Day and evening classes.

University of Washington, Tacoma

Who enrolls: Mainly community-college transfer students from the South Sound who want a UW degree.

Academics: Juniors and seniors complete bachelor's degrees in business, computer science, environmental science, nursing, social welfare, urban studies and interdisciplinary arts and sciences. Teacher, principal certification, master's degrees and continuing education also offered.

Campus life: 2,000 students attend class in historic buildings in a flourishing museum-and-waterfront neighborhood in downtown Tacoma. Day, evening, weekend classes. International opportunities. Computer labs. Diverse range of student organizations. Nonresidential.

Washington State University, Pullman

Who enrolls: SAT average range*, 470-580 verbal/490-600 math; average high-school GPA, 3.4. 75%percent of applicants are accepted.

Academics: Most popular majors: engineering and sciences, business, communications; 85 percent of freshmen return; known for communications program and veterinary science. Professors are popular; some students complain about difficulty in understanding foreign teaching assistants. "Most students feel they are getting a well-rounded education and are definitely not getting a degree handed to them," and "students claim that the ambitious student can learn a lot by choosing challenging classes," according to the Yale Daily News' "Insider's Guide to the Colleges 2005." The honors program receives rave reviews.

Campus life: Sixteen percent of the 23,000 students are in frats or sororities, making this a big party school, though the university has become tamer in recent years. Huge school spirit; everyone goes to Saturday football games. According to the Yale Daily News' "Insider Guide to the Colleges 2006," students are described as friendly and "an assortment of 'gorgeous' people has created quite a dating scene.'"

Western Washington University, Bellingham

Who enrolls: High-school GPA, 3.52 ; SAT average range*, 510-620 verbal/520-620 math; ACT average range*, 22-27.

Academics: U.S. News and World Report 2004 college rating: Ranked among the top 15 master's-degree public universities (non-Ph.D. granting institutions) in the nation, also ranked second in this category in the West and also 18th university overall in the West; 59th "most wired" university in the country (Yahoo, 2001). Professors give plenty of individual attention to students. Renowned performing-arts program. Freshman and transfer retention rate after one year is 84 percent. Business, education, psychology and biology, along with other science majors, are popular.

Campus life: About 12,000 undergrads (and 700 grads). Students are big on community service. Lots of outside activities available taking advantage of the nearby bay, mountains and relatively close Vancouver, B.C., and Seattle.

Comment: From a recent graduate: "WWU kids are quite a mix. It's not uncommon to see a bare-footed, fuzzy-legged hippie girl walk past one of those bleached-blond, fake-tan, Abercrombie types."

Private schools

Gonzaga University, Spokane

Who enrolls: Average high-school GPA: 3.6; SAT average range*, 530-640 verbal/580-680 math; ACT average range*, 23-28. Admissions puts strong emphasis on importance of difficult high-school curriculum.

Academics: Jesuit university; most popular majors are biology, communication arts, business administration, social sciences and engineering; required philosophy and religion courses; class sizes are large, and there is a growing housing shortage.

Ranked fourth on U.S. News & World Report's list of top universities in the West that grant master's degrees (non-Ph.D. granting institutions); one of the highest graduation rates in the West. Retention rate approaches 94%.

Campus life: Fanatical men's basketball following; free movie nights and low-key coffeehouse concerts. There are parties, but students don't feel they have to participate; not many students smoke, and drinking is not a big deal.

Lewis & Clark College, Portland

Who enrolls: SAT average range*, 610-690 verbal/590-690 math; ACT average range*, 26-30; 3.4- 4.0 high-school GPA.

Academics: International affairs and foreign language are its renowned departments. Most popular majors are international affairs, psychology, English, sociology/anthropology and art; 15 percent of students graduate with a double major, and more than half participate in one of the school's overseas programs. Ranked 77th (along with University of Puget Sound, among others) in U.S. News & World Report's 2004 list of "Best Liberal Arts Colleges."

Campus life: About 1,800 undergrads; 6 percent are international. Most students hang out at the library or take the free shuttle to Portland (campus is 6 miles from downtown); regular music events. Students are required to live on campus for two years. Two of the most popular activities are College Outdoors and the Volunteer Service Center.

Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma

Who enrolls: SAT average range*, 500-620 verbal/500-620 math; ACT average range*, 22-29; average high-school GPA, 3.62.

Academics: Teaching assistants don't teach classes; nursing, business, education, music and pre-professional health (pre-med, pre-dentistry) are popular majors. School strives for balance of strong liberal-arts and professional programs, with focus on global education. Chapel (not required) is held three times a week and no classes are scheduled during that time. Proud of its opportunities for student-faculty research all four years, and placement rate to graduate and professional schools.

Ranked ninth (with Seattle University) in the list of the Western region's top master's-degree universities (non-Ph.D. granting) of U.S. News & World Report, 2004.

Campus life: Students number 3,643, including more than 3,300 undergraduates. No Greek system and not a lot of partying on campus; students take advantage of what the city of Tacoma offers and often go hear live music; many students perform in theater and music activities. Nearly 50 percent study abroad.

Reed College, Portland, Ore.

Who enrolls: SAT average range*, 660-750 verbal/620-710 math; ACT average range*, 29-32; high-school GPA, 3.8; SAT II recommended.

Academics: Seventy percent retention rate; fave majors are biology, English, psychology and history; focus on intellectual stimulation rather than grades; lots of studying. Guidebooks point to stress and leftist political climate; school says it's more accurate to refer to "lots of spontaneous, creative study outlets" and "eclectic political climate." Professors and students on first-name basis; no teaching assistants. Named third-best academic atmosphere by Princeton Review's 2005 college guide; "Most Quirky" on "12 Hot Schools" list by Newsweek's "How to Get Into College" 2004 guide. Rated 53rd on U.S. News & World Report's 2004 list of "Best Liberal Arts Colleges" (with Beloit and Kalamazoo Colleges, among others).

Campus life: Easy access through public transport to Portland augments campus cultural events and student clubs; campus pool hall and coffee houses are major hangouts; camping, skiing and kayaking trips to national parks and Pacific Ocean; intracollege rugby, fencing and ultimate Frisbee teams are popular. Almost 1,400 students.

Seattle Pacific University, Seattle

Who enrolls: High-school GPA, 3.65 ; SAT average range*, 530-650 verbal/520-640 math; ACT average range*, 25.

Academics: Eighty-four percent retention rate; Christian education; business administration, education, pre-med and nursing are most popular majors. Ranked 13th in the list of the Western region's top master's-degree universities (non-Ph.D. granting) of U.S. News & World Report, 2004.

Campus life: About 3,700 students, 2,800 undergraduates. Many intern at Microsoft, Boeing, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the state attorney general's office. The Seattle location is a big draw for students. School notes a strong Division II athletic program (men and women's basketball, soccer, crew, cross-country and track; gymnastics; women's volleyball.)

Seattle University, Seattle

Who enrolls: High-school GPA, 3.56; SAT average range*, 510-630 verbal/520-620 math; ACT average range*, 22-27.

Academics: Jesuit university; 82 percent retention rate; ranked ninth in the West to offer a full range of master's and undergraduate programs by U.S. News and World Report, 2004; many resources for students, including a large English-as-a-second-language tutoring center.

Campus life: 6,800 students, 57 percent of whom are undergraduate students; the school says it's particularly proud of its diversity, "almost half 'non-whites.'" The city is their campus and students spend time in museums, in parks and downtown; many students do community service and can volunteer for course credit.

Comment: "Mohawks and 25 piercings, transfer students, older students, students from Seattle Prep. It's a nice mix of folks," said one woman who works at the university.

University of Puget Sound, Tacoma

Who enrolls: SAT average range*, 580-685 verbal/575-670 math; ACT average range*, 25-29; average high-school GPA is 3.6. Admissions looks favorably on relatives of alumni.

Academics: Business, English and biology are the most popular majors; 70 percent of freshmen come back the next year. Often takes five years to graduate because of challenging workload. No teaching assistants. Small classes. Ranked 77th (along with Lewis & Clark College, among others) in U.S. News & World Report's 2004 list of "Best Liberal Arts Colleges."

Campus life: Almost 3,000 undergrads on a suburban campus; Sailing Club is extremely popular; organized backpacking trips almost every weekend; frats are nonexclusive and dominate the social scene.

Comments: "A great liberal-arts education for students looking for a more intimate atmosphere," said Tanaka, the Holy Names counselor. "This place couldn't get much whiter or upper-middle class or suburbanite," according to student quoted in Princeton Review's "Best 357 Colleges."

Whitman College, Walla Walla

Who enrolls: SAT average range*, 640-730 verbal/620-710 math; ACT average range*, 27-32; average high-school GPA 3.77. Strong consideration given to character and personal qualities of applicants; major emphasis placed on personal essays.

Academics: Politics, biology, history and English literature are favorite majors; students get good attention from professors. Rigorous academic program. Ranked 35th (with Bard College and Connecticut College) on U.S. News & World Report's list of "Best Liberal Arts Colleges."

Campus life: About 1,400 students. Whitties are known for loving the outdoors; only four frats, but they throw the most parties; no football team, but school still celebrates homecoming with cultural events and a campuswide dance. Students have sometimes referred to the school as "Whiteman," but that has been changing slowly as the school seeks to admit a diverse class, says "Insider's Guide"; the school says more than one in five entering students this fall were "multicultural or international" students.

Comments: Tanaka: "The president has made it like one big family; he knows the name of every student on campus."

Willamette University, Salem, Ore.

Who enrolls: SAT average range, 570 to 670 verbal/570 to 670 math; ACT average range, 25-29; high school GPA average range, 3.46-4.03. Admissions is based on personal strengths as well as academics.

Academics: Methodist university. Hallmark political-science program; students nab internships at the state Capitol building, located just across the street from campus. More than half of undergraduates study abroad. Undergraduate student-faculty ratio of 11-1. Rated 51st (with Wheaton College) on U.S. News & World Report's 2004 list of "Best Liberal Arts Colleges."

Campus life: More than 1,700 undergraduates, and they're motivated. In the 2003 National Survey of Student Engagement, they were more likely to have an internship, complete community service, and have serious conversations with students whose religious and political beliefs were unlike their own. Portland and the Oregon Coast are both an hour's drive from campus.

* Average range refers to scores for the middle 50 percent (between 25th and 75th percentile) of entering freshmen for the 2002-03 school year.

— Sources included college admissions offices, guidebooks, including "Insider's Guide to Colleges 2005" and Princeton Review's "Best 357 Colleges," and selected college Web sites and interviews.

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