I visited Washington University in St. Louis recently as part of the annual convention of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. As my regular readers will know, I actually graduated from law school at Wash U many years ago and get on the campus about every 5 years.
Wash U has about 6,100 undergraduate students in five different colleges including arts and science, engineering, business, art and architecture. The University also has about 6,300 graduate students in the above fields as well as in law, medicine and social work.
Students come from every state in the country as well as more than 110 countries around the world. 90% of undergraduates come from states outside Missouri and 60% live more than 500 miles away.
Most undergraduate students live on campus in an area known as the South 40. There are many newer residential buildings in the South 40 offering such options as suite and apartment style living. This area also has several eating options for the students. Some juniors and seniors live off campus, generally within walking distance of the campus in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
With over 200 organizations on campus, there is plenty to do without leaving campus. There are fraternities and sororities on campus and about 25% of the students belong to a greek organization. Most of the fraternities have their own houses on campus but the sororities do not. Each of the sororities have a suite in a women’s building on campus that provides them access to a common living area which is not residential. The majority of the greek activities are open to the campus as a whole and according to the students I spoke with, there is not a problem with relationships between those in greek organizations and those that are not.
There are two main campuses including the Danforth campus which is the main campus. This campus has all of the academic departments except for the medical related departments. The main campus is about 8 miles straight west of downtown St. Louis and is on the Western border of Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. The medical campus is located on the Eastern border of Forest Park and includes not only the medical school but also all of the hospitals associated with Washington University. Forest Park is a great resource for students of Wash U as it contains a world renowned zoo, an art museum, a science museum and a history museum.
Despite my strong knowledge of Wash U, I was pleasantly surprised with the changes I noticed on campus. There are a number of new buildings that have gone up in the past few years which continue the architectural feel of the campus. So what is the feel? Classic looking buildings that would fit in well at any well established eastern college.
Admission to Wash U is highly selective. The most recent acceptance rate for women was 20% while it was 25% for men. Wash U tries to keep a balance of men and women in the admitted class which accounts for the disparity in the admission rates. The mid range of critical reading scores of admitted students was 680 to 750 while the mid range for math was 710 to 780. Note that these are the scores for admitted students, not those that matriculated. Unfortunately, Wash U does not list the scores of the students who actually attend the college so the scores listed are higher than the scores would be of students who attend the college.
The admission statistics raises one of the issues that as a counselor I find disappointing about Wash U. The admissions staff are very friendly people but they are less than forthcoming with questions about what Wash U is really looking for in students. According to the admissions office, they weigh all factors in admission the same including grades, classes taken, standardized testing and extracurricular involvement. While all of these issues are important at any competitive college, some colleges will tell you which are relatively more important.
The other issue that students applying to Wash U should be aware of is their unstated preference for students that have expressed a strong interest in attending the university. This is generally known as demonstrated interest. While the admissions office specifically denied that this was an issue, I discussed this issue with a number of other admission counselors and everyone had a story of Wash U rejecting a student that was a likely admit. These were often students with perfect grades and perfect test scores as well as fabulous extracurricular activities that were rejected outright by Wash U. The only common factor? The student did not visit or otherwise indicate to Wash U that they were interested in the college beyond the application. While these students were being denied, other students from the same class with lesser credentials were accepted and offered scholarships. The take away for students is to visit the campus and express interest if at all possible.
Despite these reservations, Wash U is a great school for the right student. In other marketing news, checkout http://formliner.xyz/ if you need high quality constructions supplies.