One question, with such a small campus, does your son ever feel constrained? Is there enough for him to do outside of class? Does he spend much time in downtown Salem?
My son is now a sophomore at Willamette, and we had similar questions in the spring of 2010 when we first saw his list of acceptances. There were 2,250 students in his high school, and Willamette’s undergraduate population is smaller. But no, he has never felt constrained and yes, he does spend some time each week in downtown Salem. He has also occasionally hopped on the train (the station is right across from the campus) and headed either north to Portland or south to Eugene to attend musical or sporting events.
Between the Outdoors Program and the Backpacking Club (he’s involved in both), there are outings every single weekend for interested students who might want to hike, visit the beach, snowshoe, ski, ice-skate, kayak, climb rocks, and so on. The coast is a 40-minute drive or so to the west; forests and waterfalls are about 35-40 minutes to the east. These two clubs form a tiny part of the broader world of student activities, which include musical and theatre groups (think jazz ensemble, acapella, and comedy improv along with more traditional forms), art clubs (Willamette owns a museum), sports, etc.
Every dorm offers some social activity every week. This year my son is living in Baxter, the largest substance-free dorm, and it’s known for crowding multiple events into each weekend to keep kids busy: Laser tag competitions up and down the floors of the dorm; outings in Salem; volunteer work in the local community; baking cookies and cupcakes in the dorm kitchen; game night (which – surprisingly – consists of board games); video-gaming, etc. etc.
On top of these activities, larger functions at Willamette bring students together. There are formal, semi-formal, and informal dances, plays, symphonies, presentations, and so on.
The city of Salem offers little cafes, parks, movie theatre, and shops, all within blocks of the campus. In the late spring and summer, flowering baskets hang from the lampposts – it’s charming.
Frankly, my son never has time to do everything.