Campus Tour: Let Your Mind Breathe in the Pacific Northwest
By Jenny Blackman, ApplyWise
March 12, 2009
Take this campus tour and let your mind breathe in the Pacific northwest.
As our green conscientiousness soars with rising gas prices, it could be fun to take your road bike to visit some of the country’s most distinctive colleges. Instead, we recommend that you take the whole family for a ride in your rented hybrid and make the 283-mile drive from Eugene, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. Make sure that you pack rain jackets and umbrellas—this part of the US receives between 37 to 50 inches of rain a year. Regardless of the weather, we guarantee you’ll love what you see—some of the most environmentally-friendly urban environments and their intellectually-friendly colleges and universities.
Begin your journey in Eugene, the self-proclaimed “Greatest City of Art and Culture” and home to the University of Oregon. Located at the city’s northern end, the university, whose Latin motto is loosely translated as “minds move mountains,” prides itself on mixing a diverse student population with some of the country’s top programs in business, journalism, and architecture. This is a school that values both intellectual curiosity and good old-fashioned fun. It was, after all, the backdrop for the film Animal House. Tour U of O’s campus, literally set within an arboretum containing 500 species of trees, and bask in the school’s generally laidback atmosphere. Make sure to stop by 133 year-old Deady Hall, the school’s oldest building, before hiking up Skinner Butte and indulging in one of the city’s best views. If you’d rather be a spectator, catch a musical performance at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts or cheer on U of O’s sports team at the state-of-the-art Autzen Stadium. Although their mascot, Donald Duck, may suggest weak competition, Oregon’s teams are annual contenders for titles in football, basketball and track and field.
Travel a little over 100 miles north and you’ll find Seattle, “North America’s Best Big City” according to Money Magazine. The city happens to contain several institutions of higher learning worth your time and gas mileage. The first stop, Lewis and Clark College, is a well-respected liberal arts school and has some of the best environmental law programs in the country. Although city exploration is just a bus ride away (first-year students cannot have cars on campus), most students find that they prefer to stay peacefully tucked within the school’s own vibrant community. While touring this rose-filled campus, be sure to check out the residence hall that best suits your personality; several dorms are recognized for appealing directly to specific needs (e.g. substance free, multicultural, etc.).
A visit to Portland is not complete without a visit to Reed College. The campus is just what you’d expect from the Pacific Northwest: leafy, natural and inventive. However, it pays to do some serious research before visiting, for Reed is not like most colleges. There is no Greek life, nor varsity teams (although there is a physical education requirement and a wealth of classes at their modern sports center), so asking students where the football stadium’s located might raise eyebrows.
“Reedies” are known nationally for their intense intellectual training. Reed requires all students to complete a year long Senior Thesis and students literally spend days and nights in their individualized library carrels writing and rewriting on a subject of their choosing. Because of the challenges and rewards of Reed’s academics, many go on to get their PhDs; in fact, Reed ranks third in the country for producing graduates who then go on to get PhDs in any variety of disciplines. Still, Reedies do know how to have fun. Your tour guide will happily espouse the virtues of the school’s traditional social gatherings. Renn Fayre, an annual three-day campus festival, may be the most well-known.
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