Sunday, February 2, 2014

The University of Washington

Often I look at Eldest Daughter and am shocked at what I see. She is so together, so ambitious and focused at this age. Add to that long brown hair, long legs and ridiculously long eyelashes that she lengthens with mascara. Is this child even mine?!

We experienced our first college tour together Monday at the University of Washington. It was cold and foggy, unlike the perfect, sunny day prior when we played tourist.

I didn’t take any college tours before I went off into the Wild, Wild (mid) West. Did they even do official college tours back then?! I remember visiting a friend at UCLA and another at Cal. And that was it. This child will visit many schools on her journey to pick one.

Our Beyonce-look-alike tour guide could simultaneously speak, smile with all of her face and gesticulate broadly with her hands. She was a perfect promotional vehicle for the school – all sweetness and light. We walked through the quad, the library, the computer science building, the union. We learned about the 800 student run organizations (aka clubs) and that California provides the second highest number of students to UW after the state of Washington. We learned that the average undergrad receives their degree in 4.1 years (what does that .1 mean anyway?!) and that 70% of freshman live on campus.

It was surprising to me how much the tour was a sales job. But then again I had nothing to compare it with. I worked very hard to keep my mouth shut during the tour so as not to influence Eldest Daughter's observations. Eldest Daughter and I both loved how the UW is a community within the large Seattle community. She mentioned it first. Remember, my mouth was clamped tightly shut. The setting is spectacular – on the lake with views of the ocean and Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Range. Although the school is large, 28,000 undergrads, the campus is fairly compact and the buildings were visually interesting. It’s a pretty campus. Eldest Daughter kept commenting on that.

This makes me wonder how much the physical appearance of a school influences its student appeal. I never gave it any thought. Madison, my UW, had a lot of beautiful old, historic buildings. In fact, I had classes in one that was built in 1851. Bascom Hall, the building most people associate with the school, was built in 1910. I never appreciated it although I did think the campus scenic with its location on the isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona.

One more down. TBD how many more to go.

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