The University of Puget Sound’s lush campus is in Tacoma, about a half hour south of Seattle. Founded in 1888, Puget Sound has about 2,500 undergraduates, and its core curriculum requires students to take courses in each of the standard liberal arts disciplines – math, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts – as well as a “Connections” course in their junior or senior year, bringing an interdisciplinary approach to cap off their education.
In addition to the traditional broad range of majors that most colleges offer, Puget Sound has a strong connection with environmental issues, as well as with Asia-related studies. The school does have a business degree, but does not offer engineering, although there is a 3-2 engineering program that partners with Columbia, Wash U and USC.
Both admissions staff and students say that Puget Sound students are quirky, genuine and eclectic – politically, they are a fairly liberal group, but it’s a good environment for students who have moderate/right opinions or are religious. “You can have any opinion you want here,” said one student I met, “but you have to be able to articulate your ideas intelligently.”
Experiential education is an important component here – not only in typical ways, like internships, but Puget Sound students are the type who would spend a few months backpacking in Europe for a summer. They work hard, but believe that there’s more to do than just studying.
Puget Sound students are those who may just be hitting their stride as they come to college – which means that the admissions department does not expect a perfect high school transcript. They do want to see at least two years of a foreign language, and there is a foreign language requirement here for students to graduate.
Over three-quarters of the students are from out-of-state; housing on campus is required for two years. Downtown is a few minute walk from campus, and while the food in the cafeteria is actually quite good, there are also lots of ethnic restaurants in close proximity. Parking is free for all students, and you can have a car as a freshman, but you probably don’t need one unless you are really into hiking and outdoors. Mt. Rainier national park is about 45 minutes away.
The University of Puget Sound reminded me of Allegheny College – another of the Colleges That Change Lives, because the students seemed to be multi-faceted. My tour guide was majoring in business/econ but also biology, and he was a swimmer (Puget Sound has Division III athletics). This seems to be a great place for students who are authentically interested in discovering their path, exploring the diversity of what college and life have to offer. Most of all, it’s a great place for students who are interested in getting out of the big city for a few years.
Admissions stats: mid-50% SAT CR 570-670; M 550-660; Wr 550-670; they are going test-optional as of Class of 2016. Evelyn visited in May, 2015; you can see all of her photos here.