Barany Educational Consulting
Pacific Northwest culture is, well, quirky, coffee loving, and deeply connected to community and the land. Walking to class with a view of 10,000 foot high peaks around you is, in a word, inspiring. One thing all the schools have in common- a commitment to sustainable living- in the dorms, the dining rooms, and in every building. Living in the Pacific Northwest is a lesson on how to live day to day with sustainable practices. Don’t be surprised when you have to sort your meal tray into compost and recycling (hopefully no trash.) Most cities ban styrofoam, take away cups, and plastic bags- so think re-use ables, reminders about saving water or electrical usage are all around you. Live off campus? Garbage pick up is every other week and fines are levied for mixing trash with recycling and compost.
With this comes incredible opportunities to explore the outdoors (accessible from any campus within an hour), study environmental science in the forest, stream, ocean and rivers, and expand your view away from the West Coast of the US further across the Pacific.
Key reasons to consider school in the Pacific Northwest:
1. Wilderness and Outdoor Activities are Unparalleled:
Whitman College- Walla Walla, Washington
Any given weekend at Whitman you can be kayaking, climbing, skiing, white water rafting, snow camping, or backpacking through some of the most beautiful wilderness in the US. During the week, keep in shape with the campus climbing wall. Full time staff work with students teaching wilderness skills, first responder, and wilderness leadership as well as organizing and leading trips. Whitman is the national leader in wilderness education and programming. A Whitman tradition is the First Year Scramble- week long trips before the start of the year to explore wilderness opportunities across the region. One of the most unique academic offerings includes Semester in the West. Faculty and students travel the western interior studying public land and rural life integrating field work in environmental science, history, politics and policy. A college that changes lives, takes their academics very seriously but the community also understands that learning happens when students create connections between themselves, their community and their environment.
2. Looking Further West Along the Pacific Rim
University of Puget Sound - Tacoma, Washington
Where is Tacoma?! South of Seattle, surrounded by well, Puget Sound. Look east and you can see Mount Rainier, look North you can see the islands dotting the sound. But this campus looks West….across the Pacific. Students and faculty across the disciplines travel, learn and explore the Asian side of the Pacific Rim for an entire academic year. Freshman orientation includes a two day wilderness trip focused on survival, orienteering, kayaking and service. Puget Sound’s strongest departments are in Asian studies, Latin American Studies and Environmental Policy and Decision Making.
3. Environmental Studies and Tourism Degrees
Oregon State University Cascades Campus - Bend, Oregon
The newest campus in the Oregon State system, OSU Cascades Campus is notable not just because it is located in the high Cascades. OSU Cascades offers unique programs that are hard to find in Tourism, Recreation and Outdoor Leadership, combining business, outdoor leadership, education and environmental studies into an interdisciplinary major. The laboratory is right outside the classroom door. This is big business around this part of the country which means internships and jobs for students to further develop their skills. Living in Bend, the center of Oregon, gives access to explore the Eastern high desert and and the Western coastal regions. OSU Cascades campus is small and growing with 1000 full time students. OSU is leader in combining online courses with classroom courses which gives students flexibility to travel, intern or work while making progress towards their degrees.
4. Pickle Making is Part of the Curriculum
Oregon State University - Corvallis, Oregon
OSU is where pickle making is a legit minor, along with cheese making, craft brewing or perhaps your taste is more refined and you are interested in studying enology (the study of wines). Oregon State University is the only school in the country with land, sea and space grants. OSU is a premier science school with majors from forestry and fire management to biochemistry and engineering. If the ocean is your home OSU also operates the Hatfield Marine Science Center on the Oregon Coast. Undergraduates can spend a term studying and working at the labs in Newport, Oregon. The School of Science is committed to helping students succeed in rigorous university classes. Recently the School of Science established a Science Success Center using peer advisors. Undergraduates work with upper classmen to plan classes, find tutors, or glean general wisdom about navigating their major. The Student Success Center also sponsors researcher “speed dating” sessions. Professors looking for undergraduate research assistants meet with students looking for labs for research; the meet-up helps make matches.
5. Create Your Own Connections
Evergreen State University - Olympia, Washington
The only public undergraduate university in the Colleges That Change Lives organization is nestled between the State Capitol and Puget Sound. There are no majors at this school- rather fields of study. Each trimester, students work with their advisor to curate a list of classes that are related to their interests. Here, a student can study microbiology through the lens of an artist or investigate food insecurity with environmental science and economics. When you look up a field of study, not only will you see the courses and faculty listing, but on the right hand side appears a list of related fields and courses across the university. Evergreen University defines learning as part of a bigger picture in an interconnected web.
6. Work for a State Senator or Even the Governor!
Willamette University - Salem, Oregon
Across the street, literally, from the state capitol is Willamette University. Senators, aides, lobbyists and yes, even the governor eat at the Willamette University cafeteria and grab coffee from the student-run cafe. (YES the food at the capitol building is really that bad, and yes the food at the university is really that good.) That means students interested in politics and government have access to jobs and internships while networking with established lawmakers and upcoming policy wonks. The campus sits in the middle of all the action. Another bonus, the train station is adjacent to campus allowing a quick and easy commute (about 45 min) to Portland. While government and law are strong at Willamette, other programs are also well-known. Regionally known for an excellent music program- voice in particular is strong with a beloved conductor. Willamette owns Zena, 350 acres of working farmland, forest and wetlands which is used for research, education and most importantly protection of the land. There is even student housing for upperclassmen who become caretakers of the property.
These are a few of the notable schools with opportunities that can only be found out here in our corner of the US.