University of Utah or other colleges in Oregon, Washington, Colorado

Hi CC Community:

I am looking for information on University of Utah. My S21 is considering applying. His gpa is 4.39 W and 3.97 UW with ACT 35 and not many ECs. He will have 9 AP classes by the end of high school.

We are looking for a good school for physics or chemistry; the fact that University or Utah it is part of the WUE is a big plus. He will apply to the UCs, but seems to want to go outside of California for college. He is introverted, probably an atheist (if that matters for University of Utah) and does not drink or party. So in addition to academics and professors, what is the “vibe” at University of Utah?

Also looking for other suggestions for schools in the states mentioned.

We could be full pay for a private or non-WUE out of state school, but it would have to be a perfect fit school. My preference would be $30,000-$35,000/year tuition and R& B.

Your son doesn’t drink or party NOW, but he’s 16 or 17? Things will change.

I love Utah. It’s a nice size, has good sports and academics, lots of activities.

The other states have WUE, but not for all schools. It’s available at Colorado State, but not at Colorado or School of Mines.

My son ended up at Cal Poly (BS/MS ME) from Oregon, but he agonized until the last minute between Poly, Utah and an engineering school on the east coast. There’s LOTS to like about The U. It feels smaller than the student body would suggest, academics are very good, the weather is nice with over 300 sunny days a year, outdoor activities are top notch, they are crazy about their athletic teams and the dorms are very nice. The honors dorms are REALLY nice. With his stats he’ll probably do better than WUE. My son did (one year free followed by three instate as long as he stayed over the first summer). My son is not religious at all and felt very comfortable there. SLC is less than 50% LDS. As a town it is very vibrant with a good restaurant scene. Our finances were the same as yours. All in all…great option. Good luck!

1 Like

I have heard good things about Utah. Another poster from California mentioned it to me for my daughter, (actually it was @twoinanddone, and I respect her opinion) so it’s definitely worth a look.

I would suggest looking at ASU Barrett Honors. Maybe the best honors college in the country as it is mentioned in every ranking. They had 151 National Merit scholars the last year it was listed, which puts it above some very prestigious schools. (Stanford had 157) If your son is a NMF, he goes tuition free, OOS. The total per year with NMF is in the $22,000-$23,000 range.

The dorms are really nice. My daughter has similar stats as your son, maybe a tad lower, and we are from SoCal. She is turning down highly ranked public schools, including Michigan, Wisconsin, and CalPoly SLO to attend. We were very impressed by what was happening there, so it made the choice pretty obvious to us.

My D18 loves the U (we are also from CA). It is particularly good for really outdoorsy kids and the vibe is a lot to do with that except on football weekends. They spend lots of time camping, hiking, climbing, rafting, skiing etc. with the amazing national parks in every direction and the numerous great ski resorts 30 minutes from campus. Even though the season was cut short, she still had 20 days skiing this winter (everywhere from Utah to Mammoth to Montana to Banff). That does mean campus can feel a bit quiet on weekends, especially as a lot of locals commute. It’s very common to have a car to get out to the mountains and they don’t think anything of driving for hours to visit places (eg 15 hours to Banff for spring break). For example they’ll go for a hike to the hot springs on a Sunday afternoon or drive to Bryce Canyon to watch the sunrise or go day hiking in Grand Teton NP.

As @eyemgh says, there’s no problem being an atheist and the merit aid is excellent. The honors dorms are great and they’ve just built a huge new one which will relieve some of the pressure on accommodation. The only common complaint is the food, but the upper class Honors dorms have apartments with a kitchen so don’t require a meal plan.

He should get one year full tuition plus instate for the other three years (you need to stay the first summer for that, but there’s lots to do and a fairly full schedule of classes on offer), possibly even four years full tuition (although they tend to distinguish between 4.0UW and anything else). There are also 30 full ride scholarships per year and he would be academically competitive for those, though a lack of ECs would count against him. Nevertheless it should easily come within your budget (instate COA is about $25K-$28K per year for much better accommodation than the UCs).

1 Like

Thanks to everyone who posted. All this information is very helpful. Our family visited SLC several years ago during a trip through Wyoming and Yellowstone and was very impressed with SLC. We actually stayed on campus; it was during the summer, so no student activity except for the athletes. We liked SLC because it was clean, beautiful, quiet, no traffic, and offered many good restaurants/shopping areas.

My son is not super outdoorsy or into school athletics, though I suppose that could change . He seems to like physics, chemistry and definitely likes playing video games. Do you think he could find other students like him at U of U?

Sometimes when I read all the comments about the possibilities for college, I wish I was the one one trying to choose where to apply! Sounds like there could be many good options for my son in the Pacific Northwest that will be fairly affordable for us.

If you all have more school suggestions I’m very interested. I also found a thread from a year or two ago about U of U, but cannot find it now. I am new to CC, and am just learning how to bookmark and keep track of posts.

Utah is where the non-Mormons from SLC congregate. The more devout Mormons head to BYU. It is only 35% Mormon compared to about 60% for the state as a whole:

If you are depending on WUE then do your due diligence with Utah because I think it is limited to certain programs and not an automatic thing like some other WUE schools. It sounds like Utah treats WUE as more of a merit scholarship for OOS students from WUE states that you must compete for, not as an automatic thing:

Other Northwest schools to look at that aren’t WUE schools but have OOS merit scholarships that amount to the same thing

Washington State: has $11K OOS merit award and possibly more:

Washington (merit aid unlikely for OOS so you’ll likely pay more like $50k)

Oregon (He should automatically qualify for $15k merit aid based on grades/test scores):

Oregon State Automatic $12K merit award based on grades and perhaps more:

And for a wild card, perhaps University of British Columbia right across the border in Vancouver BC. It is a growing popular option for students from the Nothwest. World-class science programs. You pay International Student tuition but the current exchange rate for the Canadian dollar makes the total cost similar to sending your kid to a WUE school and getting a 150% of ins-state tuition scholarship. For us here in Portland, UBC is only 6 hours away and an easy Amtrak trip. Apparently they have a great program in video game design if you need a hook.

This statement is a bit inaccurate. Obviously BYU has a much higher percentage of LDS students but the BYU kids in general are no more devout than the LDS kids at Utah or other schools that they might attend. You will definitely get a bigger LDS vibe at BYU.

1 Like

You think so? If you are raised LDS but aren’t particularly interested in the religion (i.e. not particularly devout) are you more likely to go to Utah or pay a substantial premium to go to BYU where you will live your life much more under the thumb of church leadership and church influence?

We have a lot of Mormon kids around here too. It is pretty much only the ones from the most devout families who decide to go to BYU.


I don’t know much about the U,

NAU, CO state, Boise State, UNR, OR state and UofOR are all WUE schools with reputable STEM programs that get lots of CA kids and are worth a look.

Some students may go to BYU because their more devout parents want them to go there. Also, BYU’s list price is lower than Utah’s in-state list price.

1 Like

Any feedback on Montana State in Bozeman? I understand they also accept WUE for qualifying students. My daughter was accepted there for Chemical Engineering. It’s more of a safety school for her but we may go visit. Wondering if anyone on this thread has looked into programs there.

FWIW, I have been told the very same thing by numerous LDS friends (I have many).

There are a lot of kids in the Vancouver WA area where I teach who go to Montana State. I would say that the WUE schools that are most popular with the middle class Vancouver area students I encounter are:

Montana State
Boise State
Arizona State

But that is just judging from where kids seem to end up. I haven’t personally researched any of those schools. A lot of athletes in particular seem to like Montana State if they are good, but not quite Pac-12 material.

Bozeman is a spectacularly beautiful community. But it is also getting quite expensive. Although for college I’m not sure it is necessarily worse than Seattle or CA area schools in high cost of living areas. Much of the Pacific Coast is getting expensive.