Willamette University impressions?

Just looking for general impressions, campus life, vibe, rankings, etc.

Willamette University is a very fine college. Motivated, bright students. I know WU alumni whom have done very well in their careers.

I was a freshman at Willamette, but just transferred out.
Willamette’s academic program is pretty good, it’s not too hard but there are a lot of opportunities to learn, especially if you meet the right professors.
The social life is pretty boring. Parties are mostly Greek. A lot of quiet studious types, if that’s your thing.
If you’re white or mainland Asian, stay away from the kids from Hawaii. They will not like you. As an Asian-American born in Asia, i got called white by a fifth generation Asian-American from Hawaii. Also the Japanese-American students will make fun of people who are white and interested in the Japanese program.
Lots of LGBT people there, although there has been some issues with acceptance of trans people recently.
Administration is incompetent at best. They are slow and mostly focused on what the university looks like to outsiders. Office of Multi-cultural Affairs is a joke here, mostly used to cater to privileged Asian-American students to increase their “minority” percentage. Good luck being Latino (unless you’re from Salem) or African-American here.
Salem as a city is boring and small. Except for the capital building and Willamette, it’s pretty dangerous here. Willamette has quite a few instances of townies brawling around the university and shouting at the students. Seeing police here is not uncommon. There was also an incident of someone breaking into the dorms and an assault occurring. This was in the last three months.
Apparently, internships are easy to get, but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

Opinionsnotfacts: Did you transfer to another liberal arts college? At any point in the process (before you went to Willamette or before you left), did you consider UPS, Whitman, Reed or L&C, or colleges in the Midwest? How was the music scene at Willamette?

Do you think most people felt the way you did?

Thanks for sharing your experiences. They’re a little surprising but I haven’t been there yet.

My D is a sophomore at Willamette and is having a very good experience. Great outdoor adventure program… tons of hiking, skiing, kayaking etc. Students all seem to belong to at least a couple of clubs, very busy very involved. Salem has everything you need and if not Portland is a train ride away. Cafemacs have been great. Small classes lots of interactions with Profs. Go see it for yourself if you can

I think Opinionsnotfacts is giving a very one-sided impression of WU. Obviously, it wasn’t the school for him/her, but after only one semester probably isn’t the best judge of the full experience. Hopefully, you’ll have the chance to hear form some current students.

@opinionsnotfacts – sounds like you had some less than ideal experiences. I’m curious as to where you transferred to? I will be visiting Willamette soon with my daughter. I’ve heard good things, but no place is perfect. D isn’t Asian, but is interested in Japanese, and is interested in the Japanese program at Willamette. It never occurred to me that that could cause someone to make fun of her? We know a few Japanese American people, having spent many years in California, and have never experienced anything like that, so that is sort of a surprising element, to me, anyway, in your post. Would you care to elaborate? I’m not familiar with Salem, but because of your post, am wondering to how dangerous Salem is, how does it compare to other U.S. cities? Boring and small – well, that doesn’t really surprise me, I guess.

Other than that, quiet studious types sounds good to me, as a mom. D would fit in with that type of student. Not a big partier, so far . . .

If anyone comes across this post and can elaborate or give any thoughts on the theatre program or the music programs at Willamette (vocal), it would be most appreciated.

@mstee My daughter was recently accepted into Willamette, and is also interested in the theater program (the tech side). We plan to visit in early April, but would love to hear your review of the school. In the mean time have you seen this article: http://www.onstageblog.com/columns/2015/11/30/the-best-theatre-colleges-in-every-state. It ranks Willamette’s theater program as the best in the nation. I’m not sure the criteria they used, but it makes me feel like it must have a number of good qualities.

I have spent a lot of time in OR and have family there, and when someone describes a city in Oregon as “dangerous” it doesn’t mean the same thing as a truly dangerous city in CA. I think the state has some issues with meth and homelessness and the crimes that go along with that (mostly petty theft), and there has been some gun violence, but in general Oregon feels quite safe to me. That said, I have never spent any time in Salem, but I have also never heard that it has a big crime problem.

@Reckless – we are planning to visit Willamette at the end of March. Looks like a great school. Looking forward to seeing the place. Will let you know what we find out!

Just visited last week. Really great impression. The dorms and buildings are a little more worn than the other PNW schools we saw, but the students were engaged and friendly. There was lots to do. My son sat in on a great class. He also got a chance to tour the theater and talk to a prof in the department. Really neat program, although if you aren’t super serious about theater it may be hard to land roles in productions. Overall… we left feeling it was in the top 2 of his PNW choices (other fave was UPS).

@Reckless–:Visited for Bearcat Day, spent the night, went to Philosophy class. Nice campus, small class size and dorm was typical(nice). My high school has dorms. I swim and have been communicating with swim coach for a while now. Met team and coach. AMTRAK station is across street, easy ride to Portland according to students I spoke with. Hospital to South and State Capital to North, so there are plenty of intern possibilities. Still waiting for some final applications to process before I decide, but Willamette University is near the top of my list.

Son is a freshman at Willamette, and it’s turned out to be a great choice for him. We’re from northern California, and he’s finding many students are from the west (Pacific Northwest, California, Colorado, Hawaii, etc.), with a smaller number from the east.

He’s comfortable and making good friends among his hallmates, writing sports columns for the Collegian newspaper, playing intramural sports and pickup basketball, going out in Salem occasionally. He is not doing XC/Track in college but runs nearby in Bush’s Pasture Park (pretty and seems safe), and has used South Salem HS track (lovely residential neighborhood). We’ve walked through a lot of downtown Salem from campus west to the river (fun restaurants and shops), and my radar for safety issues did not pick up any real concerns, although the (avoidable) northeast side presents more problems. You don’t have to be a big partier; sometimes he and his friends head over to the film building to watch movies or they’ll go to a sporting event. Other students do outdoor club trips.

As for classes, he is taking a mix of theater (acting/voice), english, french, math, psych, etc. It is indeed hard to get into the theater productions without being a declared major/minor or on a theater scholarship; he will declare the minor soon. In spite of that, he feels the theater training and the program are very professional (no BS, as he said), so it will be part of his studies there. The model of all classes being <20 students has turned out to be true, the professors are very approachable, and he feels very much at home. He’s always been a motivated student and he’s challenged but not overwhelmed.

From the parent’s point of view, I’m glad my son found a good fit! Two things we weren’t thrilled about: The pairing with a roommate who did not speak English (part of the large Japanese exchange program); that student left in December and our son easily matched up with another hallmate for this semester. Also, the dining service does not operate on an all-you-can-eat model for most meals, and our son consumed all of his meal points a little over halfway through the semester; had to add $ and trips to the grocery store. We’ve been able to communicate with school administration when we need to check on something (financial/medical) and there is an active parents Facebook page with Willamette staff participating to provide info/help.

Thanks for the reviews. Willamette is still in our top 3, but we can’t get out to visit for a couple more weeks - nothing like waiting till the last minute. My D is also interested in the theater program, but on the tech side. The more I hear about it, the more I like it!

While Opinionsnotfacts gives a very one-sided impression of WU, the administration looks like it definitely has some issues to work out. Maybe they caused the student to leave due to some unfair policies–seemed like the student enjoyed the academic life there. I would check out other sites instead of CC for information? All reviews of someone’s subjective experience will give one-sided impressions since this is what they experienced.

“Lots of LGBT people there, although there has been some issues with acceptance of trans people recently.
Administration is incompetent at best. They are slow and mostly focused on what the university looks like to outsiders. Office of Multi-cultural Affairs is a joke here, mostly used to cater to privileged Asian-American students to increase their “minority” percentage. Good luck being Latino (unless you’re from Salem) or African-American here.”

Every school has their issues, but I think Willamette is doing a very good job overall on the Admin front (mentioned above), as well as creating a multi-cultural environment. The positives outweigh the negatives. Pretty progressive. For another way to get information about Willamette - try the Parent Ambassadors - contact a current/recent parent to ask questions or get their impressions: http://willamette.edu/parents/ask/index.html. About 25 parents in different regions have volunteered to be contacted (including me).

I just visited Willamette with my daughter last week, attended Bearcat days, and IMO, it is a lovely school. It was sunny and in the 70’s when we visited, but I am told that is not typical weather. It has a reputation for rain and clouds, although I’ve been told it is not as bad as people make it out to be. The sun does come out from time to time, they say.

I had lunch in the Japanese dining hall with my daughter and it was delicious – I chose korean short ribs for lunch-- nothing like what I had to eat in college in the 70’s. I had a conversation with a woman working there, and she said it was the best food on campus, and that she pretty much knows everyone who eats there and that the students who eat there have a bond – people sing happy birthday when a student has a birthday, etc. Very nice vibe with students, cooks, and others working there.

We didn’t see much of Salem, and what we saw was neither here nor there. Nothing we saw was terribly exciting, but it didn’t feel unsafe. The State Capitol is right across the street, and is quite nice. There is a nice museum on campus that looked intriguing, but I didn’t have time to view the collection.

The area by the river in the middle of campus was very active in the evening, and seems to be a real gathering place. There were a lot of people in the coffee shop and sitting by the river in the evening when we were there. It was a beautiful day, so I’m sure that had something to do with it.

Music, theatre and Japanese programs, which are daughter’s main interests, all seem good, and it seems that Willamette has everything she requires in a school. Having said that, she will most likely not attend. She fell in love with a school that we visited earlier in the week. Were she to change her mind and end up at Willamette, though, I would be thrilled. I liked Willamette a lot.

I ended up sitting next to a very friendly man who works in the Willamette theatre dept. at a piano concert on campus while D spent time with her host for the night. We had a great conversation about our kids, study abroad, and he offered to get me in touch with anyone in the theatre dept. who could answer questions. Also talked to an alum who audits classes for fun (class of '69), for a very low fee, and to several other professors/deans/president etc. at a wine/appetizer/dessert function for parents. Students, prospective students and their parents were all very friendly everywhere we went on campus. There seemed to be a strong sense of mission and community there.

Found on Facebook. Easy - just recruit parents who helicopter their kids to market the university and do the bullying for them against parents who barely speak English and don’t know much about the college experience. Not sure how progressive this university is. #linguistic oppression

University does not prevent parents from interfering and threatening the well-being of other students (NOT THEIR OWN CHILDREN).
It’s a university problem when ANOTHER student’s parents does the bullying and encourages using university policies to threaten the safety of another student (without thinking of the legality of the situation, such as whether evidence has been cherry-picked or falsified) to indulge in their OWN children’s whims. Maybe their child’s complaints home aren’t necessarily black and white? Maybe these are NORMAL differences/experiences all 18-year olds go through when they leave the homogenous, safe, culture of home to a diverse environment. Once parents interfere, their child will not understand how to mediate/resolve conflicts maturely nor do they question their own behavior.
The university allowed VERY IMPORTANT policies designed for very SERIOUS allegations to be abused for very insincere reasons and this is NOT okay.
I have worked with university administration at other, much larger universities (2 private, 1 public) who deal with very serious cases due to a diverse student body and many have claimed the procedures chosen by Willamette only aggravated the situation, when they should have decompressed it.
When one party’s parents decides to threaten the safety and well-being of another student, that is a HUGE problem as it allows petty differences to fester and blow normal interpersonal conflicts faced by college students across the country (this is very different from institutionalized prejudice, and both parties are culprits of micro-aggressions (this can be mediated without the punitive actions taken by the university) into very serious allegations. But as an 18 year old, these things blow out of proportion because they’re on their own in college and still learning how to deal with geographical differences or moving from “big fish in a little pond” to the “ocean” and discovering that college is difficult academically and socially and they try to find someone to blame for every little thing that goes wrong, or does not go their way. The issue here is once these normal challenges are no longer trivialized by their parents, the “truth” gets twisted and manipulated because parents want their children to feel better in a foreign environment, when understanding difference and learning to live WITH difference and people you may not necessarily like will be a normal occurrence (at work, future roommates, graduate school). And the university has no SAFEGUARDS, nor teaching moments for this kind of experience.
All 18-year olds say/do stupid things due to insecurity. Abusing university policy to make your child feel “better” is never okay, especially if unjust punitive measures are taken and inflicted on another student. This reflects poorly on housing/life staff integrity.
“When parents have tended to do the stuff of life for kids—the waking up, the transporting, the reminding about deadlines and obligations, the bill-paying, the question-asking, the decision-making, the responsibility-taking, the talking to strangers, and the confronting of authorities, kids may be in for quite a shock when parents turn them loose in the world of college or work. They will experience setbacks, which will feel to them like failure. Lurking beneath the problem of whatever thing needs to be handled is the student’s inability to differentiate the self from the parent.
When seemingly perfectly healthy but overparented kids get to college and have trouble coping with the various new situations they might encounter—a roommate who has a different sense of “clean,” a professor who wants a revision to the paper but won’t say specifically what is “wrong,” a friend who isn’t being so friendly anymore, a choice between doing a summer seminar or service project but not both—they can have real difficulty knowing how to handle the disagreement, the uncertainty, the hurt feelings, or the decision-making process. This inability to cope—to sit with some discomfort, think about options, talk it through with someone, make a decision—can become a problem unto itself.”

My daughter was just accepted at Willamette. She is pretty quiet and studious, as are her friends. They don’t get together often because they are akways studying ir working, but when they do they go bowling, play board games, etc. She loves the environment-last summer she worked on an organic farm and volunteered for the Dept of Natural resources doing stream monitoring and giving classes to young children at a state park nature center. She loves backpacking. She plans to major in molecular biology with an eye toward pre-med. She starts taking the EMT course tomorrow, and will graduate HS as a certified EMT. Does Willamette sound like a good fit for her?

Yes. It does to me @NolaCAR they have a great field bio professor who really gets students involved in research. Tons of outdoor rec opportunities.

@NolaCAR, yes I think she’d be at home at Willamette - My son had a similarly quiet social life in HS, not a partier, involved in Theater and XC/Track for his main activities. As a sophomore at Willamette now, he’s taken advantage of the ability to make friends/connections within the relatively small community and really delved into his academics, too. He is thriving as a theater & english double major (the classes really are 20 or fewer students), and enjoys being outdoors for running, etc. around the Salem area; he also writes for the school newspaper weekly. People that he/we know there are doing regular backpack/camping/ski trips, so it is definitely easy to find others with those interests as well. The school does not have a partying reputation (C+ on niche?!), and that seems to be true - while my son is starting to go to more types of parties/get-togethers off-campus, he also does a mix of pickup basketball, running, intramurals, school sporting events, acting/teching for theater productions, going out for dinner/breakfast, etc. (Willamette also has a student EMS squad that might be worth investigating, too). Good luck with the decision - the “admitted students” visit in April, including attending classes, was key for my son’s decision.