Strengths of Wash U

<p>I have just started researching Wash U and I'm having a hard time figuring out what the strengths and special attractions of Wash U are. For example MIT= Math and science, Johns Hopkins = pre-med, Georgetown=political science. What would you consider to be Wash U's main strengths? Any weaknesses? Thanks.</p>

<p>Vicariousparent--Here's a few opinions based on my nearly 20 year association with WashU, including having 2 kids currently enrolled as undergrads:</p>

<p>Academic strengths (partial list)-Biology/pre-med, Poli Sci, BME, English/lit/writing, Philosophy, Psych, History, Business, Econ, Art/Architecture, Social sciences, History, Earth/Planetary Sci, German, other humanities (e.g. women's studies).</p>

<p>Relative weaknesses-Chem, Physics, non-BME engineering (although this will improve fast due to huge infusion of $). Even in these areas there are many outstanding faculty, which makes such broad assessments of quality a dicey proposition.</p>

<p>Special attractions-Fantastic undergrad students, as good as you'll find anywhere--super intelligent, talented, fun, quirky, accepting. Students are collaborative rather than cut-throat competitive, even premeds. University is very "customer-oriented" (i.e. students and their families come first). As a result, students in general are very happy and well treated, making for an enjoyable and productive college experience. Easy to double major or take courses in any school within the Univ. Even possible to custom design a major. Great academic support network (e.g. Cornerstone) and career services. Many opportunities for research, including at the medical school. Tons of extracurricular activities.</p>

<p>Disadvantages-Not on a coast, so students do have to network harder if they want to get jobs there. Even so, students have been successful in this respect. WashU is not a good fit for students looking for a dominant sports or frat/sorority culture, although the university does have several very strong DIII teams.</p>

<p>Thank you showmethedata (nice username- I guess you're from MO!), it sounds interesting. </p>

<p>D is a humanities oriented HS junior, looking for an academically rigorous college/univ. Yale has been her 'dream' school so far and it does look like a good 'fit' if only if she would get in. But we have not investigated too many other colleges and it is possible that she has an even better fit with some other school. Wash U was recommended as one to investigate, which brought me here.</p>

<p>What about the (classical) music scene?</p>

<p>Don't know much about the WashU classical music scene, other than that a friend's son, who was a music major focusing on piano, had a great undergrad experience at WashU. BTW, for a city its size St. Louis has a vibrant music scene, especially the STL symphony and Opera Theater. The WashU "Ovations" series always brings in a wonderful mix of music and dance to enrich the arts scene.</p>

<p>Thanks. I also did a search within this subforum for "music" and got some relevant information. Looks like there is enough there to keep it interesting. I like the idea of a university that is "customer oriented". Too many of the top name schools are terrible in that department. The 'custom designed' major sounds very interesting. </p>

<p>Here's another question- how 'liberal' are the students and faculty?</p>

<p>While most students self-identify as liberal-leaning, there is a significant group of conservative students that is quite vocal, often complaining about the "liberal bias" on campus. Interestingly, however, the University regularly hosts conservatives, including Daniel Pipes (last week), former Attorney General Gonzales (last year), and (most (in)famously--excuse my bias) Phyllis Schlafly (who received an honorary degree at last year's commencement); liberals of course are also represented (e.g. Carl Bernstein spoke this week). The faculty's political views cover the gamut, as at any major university. To get a peek into any university's vibe, you and your student should regularly read campus newspapers online. WashU's is at Student</a> Life. Check out student and faculty comments associated with articles on controversial subjects.</p>

<p>I would have to say the faculty also leans heavily to the left, although I do know some faculty who are actually conservative Republicans. Nevertheless I believe the campus in general is open to everyone's views, as long as everyone respects each other.</p>

<p>One sign of the Wash U's dedication to their music department was their purchase of the CASA building off the Delmar Loop (the "560 Music Center") a couple years ago. That provides a large and very publicly visible venue for performances for Wash U and the community, and also gives the music department a lot more usable space.</p>

Here's another question- how 'liberal' are the students and faculty?

The students are quite liberal. For example, a survey of all the students that was done at the beginning of the year showed that 80% of the students support Obama for president.</p>

<p>I'd argue that Chem is actually really strong here.
As for engineering, the new dean and the influx of money (and the giant new complex being built) will help with everything outside of BME.</p>

<p>And as for the liberal/conservative bias, it definitely is very liberal. However, I myself am moderate, and I don't think that either of the extremes are disrespectful to each other (the majority that is, not the few very vocal individuals that every college has).</p>

<p>Chemistry, at least at the graduate level, is ranked 43rd nationally. See:
U.S</a>. News: Best Graduate Chemistry Programs (2007) : The Consus Group Rankings</p>