University of Washington at Seattle
BackgroundInterview Date:November 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school in Kirkland, WA with a graduating class of about 350 students. About 150 went to 4-year universities, another 150 went to 2-year colleges, and the other 50 went straight to the workforce.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Double major in Education, Communities, and Organizations, and Law, Societies & Justice
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in Young Life, I live the 17th Ave. House, which is a Christian house, and I’m a small group leader there, I’m involved in church, and I play intramural sports.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I live in a house of 55 guys and that’s been pretty transformational for me. As far as a community, it’s been pretty great living in a house with guys of the same faith and of a similar background of me where I can go to a more secular university but come back home and feel that people have similar beliefs as me and help me through struggles. Young Life has been another big community for me because I can meet kids and help them through struggles that they’re going through. The high school that I’m at does not have a lot of who go to college, so being able to be a mentor for students there has been transformational for me. Then with intramurals, I love to exercise and I think they are a lot of fun.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
For both of my majors, I have a lot of reading and writing. I don’t have a lot of multiple-choice tests or anything like that. Most of the tests have an in-class essay or short answer questions. A daily schedule for me is about 2-3 hours of class and another 2-3 hours of studying and reading.
Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
One thing that’s cool about my Education, Communities, and Organizations major is that it’s not just about teaching, it’s more about nonprofits, community organizations, and the education within those systems. I think they do a really good job of cultivating a place where students can bring themselves and whoever they are, like their background and culture, into the classroom. That’s been really cool for me because I feel that there are some classes at UW where you can’t do that.
Another thing is the university is more left-leaning. I’m not opposed to that, but you can see in my Law, Societies & Justice classes that that’s a prevalent thing. You have to be aware of that and you want to be able to think of both sides, but sometimes in those classes that can be hard.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s competitive in my Law, Societies & Justice classes because people are more grade oriented. My Education, Communities, and Organizations classes are less so. Those have more of an interactive and very friendly community. We’re often working in groups and sharing about what we’ve read and what we’ve learned.
What has been your favorite class for your majors so far?
Education, Communities, and Organizations: Seeking Equity and Diversity in Education. It gave me a really big perspective into socioeconomic status, religion, sexual identity, and other things that I had not talked about or explored prior to college. It was really cool and they tried to give everybody in the class that perspective so they can create a more equitable environment.
Law, Societies & Justice: Drugs and Society. I really enjoyed learning about the effects drugs have on people and also mass incarceration and the war on drugs. It gave me a lot of insight into how much we incarcerate people, and how we specifically incarcerate some races more so than others.
How accessible have your professors been?
As a freshman, I came in very nervous to go in and talk with my professors because the classes were super big. My classes ranged from 50 to 200 people. I reached out to upperclassmen in my house for help, but I realized after a while I needed more help and that’s when I started going to office hours. Professors have office hours but not a lot of people take advantage of them. I’d say they’re accessible, but it’s put on the student to reach out to professors.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I’m not 100% sure what I want to do after college, so I thought I’d try to diversify myself. I started off taking business classes and realized that it wasn’t the environment that I wanted, so looked into other classes. I took intro-level classes in law and education and liked how the law classes were social justice oriented, and then I also think that education is the root of a lot of inequity and things that are going on, so that made it fit well for me and I liked the environment they create in those classes.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to live coming into UW. I was thinking about maybe rushing a fraternity. I knew I didn’t really want to do the dorms and I didn’t want to be big into the party scene. Through Young Life in high school I learned about the 17th Ave House, so I applied and got in. That’s where I’ve been living for the past three years.
Freshman: I lived in a four-man room.
Sophomore: Five-man room.
Junior: Three-man room.
How is going to school very close to your hometown?
I’ve really enjoyed it. I wanted to distance myself from my parents for the first few months of college and not go home. After that, once I got transitioned, I probably go home once every two or three weeks. It is nice to live by my parents and be able to go home on a Sunday to do laundry and have dinner. A lot of my friends from home went to college [in our town] and lived at home, so it was nice to stay in contact with them.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
As a White male, I’ve never come into any danger or felt endangered at any point. I know that that’s different for women on campus. There are also girls’ Christian houses around us, so we have a walk home group chat that we use if they’re ever on campus and want to be walked home. Safety is something that is important and we take seriously, but I’ve never felt in danger. A little bit off campus there is University Avenue and there is a homeless population down there, but I have never felt in danger there either.
How as the booming tech industry and the rising costs of Seattle influenced your experience?
For me, my housing has gone up at around $50 a month each year. Not for me specifically, but some majors at the University of Washington, like business, computer science, and engineering programs, have gotten more difficult for students to get in to. My friends had trouble getting into their majors [because they have gotten more popular].
Do you ever feel like you’re are less so a student of University of Washington and more so a resident of Seattle?
Yeah, I feel that all the time. Sometimes I feel that I’m in college just to build community and build relationships. I about half a mile off campus, so I’m only down on campus for a couple of hours a day for classes. I really enjoy going to the sporting events, so in that aspect I feel more of a part of the school. I felt that distance from the school, so I became an orientation leader and lived in Seattle over this past summer and got more involved on campus. That was cool to get to know my campus a little better and get to know the people on it outside of the community that I’m in. I was definitely feeling distant, but just recently I’ve taken steps to get more integrated into UW.
Pros and Cons of being in Seattle, WA?
Pros: (1) I really enjoy the weather. The falls are really nice and the springs are really cool. I also don’t mind the rain.
(2) The people, at least in my neighborhood, are really friendly and willing to talk or say hi.
Cons: The way you can feel distant from the campus and community. I haven’t struggled with it, but I have heard people talk about how they’ve found it hard to find community. Once you find it you’re fine, but it’s a big school and I think UW could do a better job of making the school feel smaller.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I really enjoy going to sporting events, so that involves Husky football on Saturdays, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring. Also, with my house we’ll do hot chocolate nights. We’re on the same street as the Greek houses, so when the Greek community is throwing parties on Tuesdays and Thursdays we pass out hot chocolate and talk with them and build community with them.
There are a few other ministry things I go to. On Tuesdays The Inn Seattle has worship music and food. There are people from the Greek community, residential halls, and it is very open to anybody. Then at my house we have small group meetings once a week for two hours which [involves] five guys getting together and talking about our weeks. We have mentors that help us go through some scripture and we hang out together.
What have been your favorite times at UW?
Sports have been big. One memory is when we hit a three-pointer to beat Arizona and everybody rushed the court, that was really cool. Also, random spur of the moment nights when we’ve gone to Gas Works Park or the Montlake Cut, which is a swimming area, in the spring. Road trips for sporting events are big, we went to the Pac-12 championship our freshman year and we went to Oregon State for a basketball game. Some of my favorite memories have been road tripping with my friends as well.
How did you meet your closest friends?
For the most part, it’s been through the house. You can live in the house for four years. It’s kind of like high school in that you find a group of friends and hang out for four years and those are your guys. I’ve also met some cool people and close friends through different clubs.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s hard to speak for everybody. My situation is very unique because of where I live. I know for the Greek community it’s pretty good. [Through my experience as an orientation leader], I’ve heard for people in residence halls it depends on where they’re living, but they seem to enjoy it and find their community.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
For me, it doesn’t matter who I’m hanging out with. My house is primarily White, but we have a few Hispanics and a few Asians. I’d say 40 out of the 55 are White, but we don’t care who it is that we’re hanging out with. It’s just about understanding that people come from different backgrounds. One thing that I have noticed is that the international students will hang out with each other, but I think it can be hard to come from another country and push yourself to be out there and make friends. I think UW could do a better job of integrating international students with [domestic students].
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yes. There’s a lot of resources, but the big thing is you have to be pursuing it. You have to be on top of reaching out to them.
What did you use the career office for? How helpful have they been?
My first two years I didn’t really use it at all. I felt the school was really big and relied on my house. When I became an orientation leader I started going there for resume and cover letter help because I knew them better. I recently accepted a job that they helped me find and helped me get. So, I recently have used it a lot.
Have you learned any computer programs through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
I haven’t done any computer programming but do know that is something that is really prevalent right now. UW does a good job of offering that to people who want to, like introduction level computer science classes and stuff like that.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about the University of Washington before entering as a freshman?
You’re going to fail a test and have a struggle. Everybody here will struggle with something whether it be relationships, anxiety, or classes, and just to be prepared for that. College isn’t just a smooth sailing time, it’s fun, but you’re going to have your struggles. I wasn’t really thinking about that or expecting that, but it is something that I’ve run into.
What is something a prospective Christian student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
As far as being bold in your faith at UW, UW is very secular. There are not a lot of conversations in classes with the people you’re interacting with about your faith. I would tell someone to find your faith community because there are a lot of clubs that are faith-based. Don’t be discouraged if the people in your classes and your professors are not faith-based, you’ll have to hang on to that and find your community and build yourself up with them. It’s a hard place to be a Christian because there are not a lot of people around you that are.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
I think the campus is beautiful. That was a huge draw for me. Check out the athletic facilities, like the basketball arena. Those are further down but are worth checking out. University Ave. has some great food. It’s a street with lots of different ethnic and cultural restaurants.
Reasons to attend Washington:
1) The education is outstanding. Whatever major you’re going to go into you will learn a lot.
2) They do a really good job of preparing you for your career. A lot of majors require you to do an internship.
3) The athletics.
4) The campus is awesome.
5) There are a ton of clubs that can make the campus feel a lot smaller and where you can find a community.
Reasons to not attend Washington:
1) It’s a really big school. That can be a drawback for a lot of people. [The undergraduate enrollment is about 31,000 students.]
2) Getting into your major can be hard, especially if you’re not a direct admit to Computer Science, Business, or Engineering. If you’re not already in one of those programs when you get accepted, it can be very difficult to get in. A lot of people are frustrated after their sophomore year when they came here to study this one thing and they’re not able to because they don’t get accepted.
3) I really like the weather, but for some people the winter can be hard.