College Tour 2014: University of Puget Sound

The University of Puget Sound was the third stop on the Summer 2014 college tour*.  Our tour guide made the hour long walk around campus an entertaining and welcoming experience.  She encouraged everyone to talk and tried to match up their interests with someone she knew for a duet, i.e. my son and her friend for a bass clarinet duo.  She even called on my fourteen-year-old.  “What are you interested in?”  He’s heard enough on tours to know “undecided” is a perfectly acceptable response.  Not for her, “What do you like?!?”  She wanted to know him and everyone on her tour.  He came up with swimming.

*The other schools we toured included:  University of Oregon, University of Washington, University of British Columbia.  At each campus we listened to an info session, usually hosted by admissions and toured the campus with a current student. The information in these posts is based on what we heard, saw and felt. Specifics can be found at the college websites.

University of Puget Sound, Tacoma WA

Draw: As long as we are in Seattle, we wanted to look at more than one school. We only had room in the schedule for two tours. The description in The

UPS Campus.

UPS Campus.

Fiske Guide to Colleges got us all excited because of its emphasis on language, study-abroad programs and music for non-majors.



Majors/Curriculum: This is true blue liberal arts education. The idea is to ensure the student can write and think after graduation—high on employer’s wish lists. International business is covered along with language, three years at the college level. The biggest surprise was the encouragement of music for non-majors. A student-run campus radio station offers a chance to try out broadcasting and programming.

To my understanding, students hone their writing and argumentative skills by choosing a topic of interest, i.e. compare and contrast U2 and The Beatles.   Capstone classes tie all the learning together, for example studying the physics of the Atomic Bomb in a science class and studying the politics behind the Atomic Bomb in a history class. Two different professors present their side. If I had to guess, public education’s goal of Common Core programs and Threads (English and History team taught.) are trying to achieve a similar experience.

Location: Tacoma is only 30 minutes from Seattle after an hour and half airplane ride. There are two sides to Tacoma and the campus is on the nice side we were told.  Tacoma is heavy into the arts surprisingly. Culture and food are not far away if students want to leave campus. Parking a car is not an issue nor is it cost prohibitive.

Campus: Immaculate landscaping and two-story brick buildings create a pleasant and peaceful setting. It’s small enough to walk anywhere but big enough to get lost if you are looking for the college tour and the admissions office temporarily moved.

Pine groves dot the campus.

Pine groves dot the campus.

Size/Culture: With only 2600 students, class sizes are smaller than most public schools, 19 is a high. Because the classes are small it is easy to get to know the professors and the professors want to get to know the students. The admissions office looks after students and does an excellent job matching up roommates. Once we found the admissions office, the secretary/coordinator found my son’s name on the list of registered prospective students, asked about his given name since he used his nickname. I felt like we were right back at Burton Valley Elementary and talking to the school secretary Mrs. Dahl.

Admissions: Again, high school grades are most important, average GPA 3.5. Essays are really important as are extracurricular activities. SAT or ACT accepted.

Residences:  The dorm rooms are huge compared to Oregon. Our tour guide was hilariously honest, confessing her fear of sharing a bathroom with strangers and all the loose hair, even if it belonged to her.  She told us to appreciate the people cleaning up after the students; the hair thing got to her. I bet this lesson is more than her mom bargained for in a college education.

Football: Yes. The Loggers are a well supported team even if they have a losing streak.  And what’s not to like about the team cheer, “Kick Axe!”


Size: The school is small and may get too small after awhile. Tacoma is not the hotbed of culture like Seattle.

Majors: While the list covers a lot of what our son is looking for, if he suddenly wanted to study architecture, this is not the place.

Jobs: While the info session talked about the things employers are looking for in a new hire, i.e. writing and thinking skills, no mention of specific corporations or internships were referenced.

Parent Take:  We want to go to school here!  Students will definitely get an education, unlike our college days of 500 in an Econ class.  UPS is ranked in the top 40 of colleges that change lives and I can see why.  Writing plays an important role and to me, writing forces a person to slow down and really think about things.  I’m always surprised to find out what I know when I write anything.  The intimacy of the school makes a difference too; there’s no hiding.  EVERYONE knows if you skip.  We love the fact that music can be a part of our son’s life.  He plays piano for study breaks.  We are concerned it might be too small and not the big college football experience.  Students come from all over the nation and the world, at least 50% of the population.  My skin looks like golden honey here too.

Kid Take:  BOTH boys want to go to school here.  Which is funny because they are at different high schools now.  Our oldest came alive, touting an interest in jazz.  He hasn’t played or talked about jazz since eighth grade as football took over his “free” time.  Our fourteen-year-old is interested in the kayaking club because practicing in the pool sounds cool.  The bubbly tour guide certainly was entertaining and painted a realistic picture of life at UPS; that probably played a huge part in liking the school and hopefully is a reflection of the student body.

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College Tour 2014: University of Washington

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Interview of a Writer

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