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Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA)
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Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA)
Our son is thinking about applying to Evergreen. Does anyone have
personal experience with this school. Our son lacks motivation if he
is not really excited about a class and a teacher. He likes very
interesting classes, but is not especially self-directed. What is this
school really like and who succeeds there?
My son just finished his freshman year at Evergreen, and it was a
wonderful experience. He is creative and very bright, but has never
been motivated by grades. If he doesn't like a class or a teacher,
he doesn't put forth much effort, and his high school transcript
reflected that. It has been liberating for him to be free of grades
at Evergreen. His professors have definitely held him accountable
though--the narrative evaluations are quite comprehensive. The work
load is respectable, and can even be heavy. Because the
student-professor ratio is small (generally one prof for every 24
students), and classes are taught seminar style, it's almost
impossible to fly under the radar. Students have to come to class,
and it's pretty obvious if they slack off.
It has also been wonderful for my son to have no general education
requirements. He was able to jump right into the writing and film
programs he was interested in taking. However, it can be very
difficult to get your first choice program. Because all the programs
are interdisciplinary, students often find themselves enrolled in
programs that include some subject matter that they don't really
want to study. It's just not really true that you can spend four
years there and escape studying subjects you aren't interested in.
The classes are very engaging though, and students often discover
Student life at Evergreen is pretty good. The campus is safe and
beautiful, located outside of Olympia with 1000 acres of forest and
a slice of beach on Puget Sound. It is very socially accepting, and
there are lots of alternative kids there, mixing freely with more
traditional types. Be warned though, there is a pretty heavy drug
scene at Evergreen--mainly pot and hallucinogens. Also, the climate
can become an issue, especially for kids prone to depression. It
rains constantly, and can be very dark during the winter days.
Although most kids get used to the weather, some struggle with
Seasonal Affective Disorder. The dorms are generally pretty nice,
and lots of freshmen are able to get single rooms in six bedroom
suites. The food really leaves something to be desired, even after
the school built a gorgeous new cafeteria. Hopefully, that will
My son is thriving at Evergreen, and has made tons of friends. There
are plenty of Bay Area kids there, which makes the transition
easier. In some ways, it feels like a small (albeit very eclectic)
private college. Even with out-of-state tuition, the price tag is
much less. For the right kid, it is an amazing choice. Good luck!
Happy Evergreen Mom
My son is just finishing up his first year at Evergreen. I recently
flew up to visit him and got a better feel for the school. My son,
who transfered in as a sophomore, has been frustrated that he did
not get into the music classes he wanted this year. But he hung in
there and took a variety of courses and is doing well. He enjoys his
professors. He has already registered for fall and got into his top
choices of music classes. My son mentioned that many students at
Evergreen are adrift, not particularly motivated, and smoking a lot
of weed. I think the school appeals to free-thinking, creative
types. Feel free to contact me with questions.
Hi - My son is starting as a freshman next year at Evergreen. It's
an alternative liberal arts college that is one of the Washington
State schools. We're really excited. It's listed as one of the
''Colleges that Change Lives,''
http://www.ctcl.org/colleges/evergreen. There are no grades, most
courses are interdisciplinary, and there are student-designed
''programs'' rather than majors. My impression (from talking with
people, reading the materials and visiting): Great for
self-directed students and those who thrive with hands-on work and
collaboration. An emphasis on non-traditional learning methods --
lots of class discussion & projects, rather than exams, for the most
part. No huge lectures. My son was inspired when we went to visit
and met a couple of the faculty in his area of interest by their
passionate commitment to teaching. Downsides: students can drift
if not self-motivated, and we hear there is a significant drug scene
(true, however, at lots of colleges).
Future Geoduck Parent
Our son is finishing his junior year at Evergreen. He has loved the
school and been extremely engaged in his education. Mainly,
students take one class each quarter and many different topics are
covered. For instance, a science class may include everything from
statistics, video production, writing seminars as well as week long
camping trips. Group projects are also a large part of the
curriculum. Without mandatory classes, each student is free to
create his own program, so it is very important to continually get
advice from advisors and professors. If a student is not motivated,
it can be difficult to succeed with the loose structure, but that
being said, your son may find both the environment and style of
teaching very motivating. If you visit, do so on one of their
special orientations as you have access to many administrators,
professors and students. Feel free to email me and we can set up a
time to talk.........my son would also be willing to talk with your
If you don't want to pay for a private college counselor, and you
can't get an appointment with your child's high school counselor,
he/she and the high school library will surely have several 2010
books (also available online) with independent and student opinions
on selected colleges. The Underground Guide to Colleges comes to
Basic comparative info on colleges (cost, test scores, size) is
available free on the College Board's website.
I've heard Evergreen is smallish, a beautiful campus, far away, and
a place where students plan their own curriculum (that's on the
college's own website). Ask around to find some local students who
go there. Of the three I know, one transferred out to another school
for a better music program.
Loren Pope has written two books about applying to colleges and I
encourage you to read them. Looking Beyond the Ivies and 40
Colleges That Change Lives. He likes Evergreen.
Looking Beyond the Ivies will help you feel much better about the
college application process. I think there's quite a bit of wisdom
in that small book.
Good luck and try not to get too caught up in the application and
selection madness. There are plenty of good schools out there and
hopefully he'll find a good fit.
mother of a rising senior
this page was last updated: Sep 30, 2011
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