University of Puget Sound - what's the catch?

i am currently researching some schools to transfer to as a physics major and UPS caught my eye: beautiful campus, excellent faculty, and high acceptance rate/grad rate. i also looked at the average test scores and GPAs for UPS and they were relatively high (compared to the acceptance rate). is there something i’m missing about the school? it seems like a hidden gem. is UPS just self-selective and i’m overthinking it?


I agree with your impression. It seems like a jewel of a school and i’m also unclear about its high acceptance rate.

It might be that its FA isn’t as generous as other schools for lower income students. This would eliminate a sizable portion of the applications.

If you check COLLEGE NAVIGATOR you can see that the lowest income levels are expected to pay $26K per year and the highest income levels $40+K per year.

That pretty much eliminates the lower-income students from considering the college. If your family makes $0-$30K per year, would you allow your child to apply to a school that will cost you $26K per year? No, you’d ask them to live at home and apply to a local college OR if they are a high achiever, ask them to apply to a 100%-need-met school like Vassar or Williams or Pomona. Pomona would cost that family $9K per year, including R&B, which is about 1/2 price of what state schools would cost.

If you’re wealthy and you have a high achiever, you might look at Puget Sound because they offer on average $22K merit money to attract high achievers, making it a good bet for the wealthier families.

And indeed, if you look at Puget Sound’s reputation, it attracts “Patagucci”-wearing outdoor types.

There’s no catch as far as I can tell. My D is a first year there and they have delivered 100% during this extremely difficult situation. She can’t wait to be on campus soon!

Full disclosure: Puget Sound is top of one of my kids’ lists this year. Also, a friend’s high-achieving child visited the school pre-COVID and loved it. It’s a school that the more you look at it, the more you like it, IMHO.

  • Ocean
  • Mountains -- the outdoors club offers mountain shuttle bus to mountains each weekend
  • Cute campus
  • Cute town
  • Simple-enough to get to if you're out of state
  • Near Seattle for larger city vibe
  • Academics seem great in many ways including the music school--though my child isn't a musician I love that there are serious arts at the school. It adds to the environment.
  • There's a business undergraduate program that looks pretty serious.

There’s a lot to like there.

There’s no catch. I think there is much less population density here in the Pacific Northwest and really only five LACs here in the entire Pacific Northwest that are non-secular (UPS, Reed, Lewis & Clark, Whitman, Willamette). There are a variety of small Christian colleges and three Catholic Universities and that’s it.

This is in complete contrast to the Northeast where they are literally dozens and dozens of them within the same size area. So, I would expect parents and students in the Northeast to apply to a much longer list of schools than parents here. That makes these schools more self-selecting. California is more like the east coast in terms of sheer population density but has only a few LACs like Oxy and the Claremont schools so just sheer population density suggests that they are going to get a lot more applicants.

As a HS teacher here in the PNW I can also tell you that this region is generally less competitive than the Northeast. Parents and students just aren’t nearly as driven and ultra-achievement oriented. The ultra wealthy often send their kids to CA or east coast schools. But upper middle and down parents tend to be satisfied with the regional offerings and don’t care if they aren’t rated as highly as certain east coast schools.

My daughter is looking strongly at UPS, Whitman, and L&C. But also UW, or instate flagship as well as WWU and WSU.

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Thank you for contextualizing UPS and the other LACs in the Pacific Northwest. My daughter has a strong interest in these schools. Hoping the situation will allow us to road trip from TX next summer! I recently heard the CEO of Common App talking on a podcast about her time working at UPS. She said that if it were on the East Coast it would have a much higher national reputation.

@EnglishMajorMom My D20 is at UPS and we are also from Texas. She’s “met” (they have been online only for this first semester) a few other Texans in her classes. I’m pleased the college seems to be extending their reach to other parts of the country! Please let me know if you have any questions… I will probably be more prepared to answer after a semester on campus. :smile:

It is a beautiful campus. Very traditional Hogworts or Oxford sort of feel with quads and ivy covered buildings amidst tall trees.

If it were on the east coast it might have a higher profile, but would be a less interesting place to go to school. The beaches of Puget Sound are a bike ride away and you have national parks and skiing an hour or so in the other direction.