campus encounters

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University of Washington – Tacoma

UW – Tacoma (Info session on UW main campus, 6/22/17)

“There’s nothing better in an education than getting your normal shaken,” said one of the reps. UW-T is located about 30 minutes south of the main campus in mostly refurbished buildings that were originally built for the railroads and supporting businesses in the area. They’re part of the Coalition of Urban Serving UniversitiesAccess is at the center of everything they do. About 65% of the 5,000 undergrads are first-gen college goers. “That impacts everything we do.” Although primarily serving transfers from one of the Washington Community Colleges, about 20% of their students come in as freshman.

For 130 years, UW was 1 campus; in 1990, they decided to expand their reach to increase access, specifically for transfer students. There are now 3 campuses in the UW system (Tacoma and Bothell in addition to the main campus in Seattle) which provide very different experiences. They share characteristics of collaboration, offering students joint access to programs across campuses including 275 study abroad offerings and 306 degree programs (although not all are available on all campuses). After completing 25 credits on their home campus, students can take up to 15 credits a year on the other campuses. Technically, students at Bothell or Tacoma can be involved in the athletics on the main campus although it’s a rarity.

When asked what makes them different from other institutions, they said:

  • “Our mission is to foster a thriving and equitable society by educating diverse learners and expanding knowledge through partnership and collaboration with all our communities. We have diversity in a variety of forms: age, veteran status, underrepresented students, etc.”
  • “We’re urban; who doesn’t want Thai food under the computer center?”
  • “This is where real world housing meets residential life: you have the fob to get in, but it looks like a normal dorm inside.” There are Studio, 1-, and 2-bedroom apartments, all with kitchens so students can bring their coffee pots and popcorn makers unlike most dorms. There are only 300 spaces so priority is given to out-of-region students. “We have a conversation with students about living somewhere that’s academically healthy!”

Urban Studies is a unique major to this campus. It incorporates a lot of sociology by looking not just how cities work but how humans interact with the city. Students can choose tracks in Global Urbanism, Community Development and Planning, or GIS and Spatial Planning. Other unique programs include: Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies, Sustainable Urban Development, and Social Welfare.

© 2017

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