Central Washington University (visited 6/21/17)
CWU was a surprise in the best possible way. I walked away knowing that I’d be comfortable recommending this school to students: it’s a welcoming, modern, attractive campus with a lot of unusual majors that would appeal even to students coming from across the country. Check out this YouTube video put together by the Arts and Humanities Departments – made entirely (including the music) by faculty and students in that school!
All first-year students are required to live on campus and therefore get priority for housing. Many live in 4-person “pods” (like suites). There are about a dozen LLCs available; our tour guide lived in the Aviation LLC his first year even though he ended up not majoring in it. There are some university-owned apartments available for upperclassmen. Off-campus housing is relatively easy to find and not expensive. Ellensburg is a small, easily manageable city with things to do and with lots of access to outdoor activities. Students can fly into Sea-Tac airport and get school shuttles for the 2-ish hour trip to campus.
Despite being a medium-sized university of about 11,000 students, they take excellent care of students and work hard to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks. Students get both a Major and a Support Advisor so there are plenty of people checking in on them. They are dedicated to providing accessible education for students, particularly those who historically have not had easy access to higher education. Their first-gen students graduate well above the national average, for example. One student spoke to us at dinner; he was extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities and support he received at the college, saying that his success came due to the support he got from faculty and the institution as a whole.
The evening we were on campus, one of the physics students gave us a mini-lecture on Dark Matter… we couldn’t believe he wasn’t a professor! The Astronomy Club gives monthly presentation, so this was something they would have available to students and the community at large. A physics professor then let us crawl into their portable planetarium (who knew that was even a thing!?); it looked a bit like an igloo and easily fit 25 people. (We also got to go into their permanent planetarium but the equipment was being upgraded so we were unable to see it in action). He gave us a great presentation followed by an extensive tour of the geology and physics labs and ending at the telescope and observatory on the roof.
They offer a number of interesting and/or unique majors such as:
- Museum Studies
- They’ve excavated a mammoth about 30 minutes from here and will most likely keep the bones on campus since students did a lot of the work.
- Law & Justice
- Aviation/Aerospace/Aviation Management
- Aviation has been going on for about 40 years; there’s a pilot shortage and they’ll get jobs, but it’s a lot of money up front for the training.
- There are additional admissions requirements such as a physical for flying.
- There are 60 incoming freshman bringing it up to 160 total. They’re hoping to bring even more in next year.
- Sciences (College of Sciences combines Computational, Natural, and Social Sciences)
- Primate Behavior and Ecology: Washoe, one of the original chimps that was taught ASL lived here.
- Integrated Energy Management
The Business School is AACSB accredited (less than 5% of more than16,000 schools get this). Admission is not competitive but must keep a 2.5 GPA to stay in the program; students can declare after 30 credits.
- There are 8 concentrations including HR, Economic Forecasting, Supply Chain, and Managerial Economics
- Safety and Health Management: they have the top program in west. Two professors got awarded National Educators of the Year awards.
- Apparels, Textiles, and Merchandising: graduates can work as designers or buyers.
- Global Wine Studies: This is not meant to teach students how to make wine (although they do learn how) but focus on the marketing.
- Craft Brewing: Students do learn how to make beer in this major! “They get a lot of science.” They can also get a certificate in this if they don’t want the whole major.
- They’re starting Hospitality Program and will incorporate the beer and wine programs into the event management. This will be an international program where they can work in Spain, too. Getting a dual degree from each institution will be a possibly.
- Their Army and AF ROTC programs win awards across the country.
Admission to the university is automatic – without the test scores – if a student has a 3.4 and will have completed all the College Academic Requirements by graduation (but they still need to submit test scores; they just aren’t used for admissions, but are looked at for scholarships and for placement). All others go through the comprehensive review process. This is already one of the most affordable institutions in the Pacific Northwest. On top of that, they offer WUE to qualifying students who then pay in-state tuition x 1.5. The average incoming GPAs for WUE students was a 3.31; overall was a 3.1.