Should I Go To University of Washington?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Bryce earned his Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering in 2012 from the University of Washington. He is currently a New York City tutor specializing in Biology tutoring, MCAT prep tutoring, Chemistry tutoring, and much more. See what he had to share about his time at the University of Washington: 

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Bryce: The University of Washington is in its own enclave of Seattle. It is about three miles from downtown, and while it is still in an urban setting, the entire neighborhood revolves around the campus. The off-campus safety is sometimes questionable, but there is an incredibly low crime rate on campus, even very late at night. I had a bike all four years, and a car during my final two, but the bus system is good enough to get you where you need to be within 20 minutes. 

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants? 

Bryce: The University of Washington is a huge school; my largest class was 770 students. That being said, the professors are amazing at being available to students via office hours, email, and private appointments. Almost every class has at least one teaching assistant, and they are even more available than the professors. The key to getting the attention of your professors at the University of Washington is to, 1.) stand out in class (positively, obviously), ask questions, and go to office hours and/or, 2.) choose a strong but small major. For instance, my bioengineering class had 50 students in it, and I knew all of my professors quite well. 

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students? 

Bryce: Dorm life is so fun. There are a ton of dining options, the rooms are big enough for you to survive and have your own space, and Housing Services puts on all kinds of events for those living on campus, as well as off.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Bryce: The sciences are very strong at the University of Washington, especially those that stress research (because they are the ones that bring in national and private funding). I studied bioengineering because it was a beautiful mix of medicine and engineering, and it provided me with a fantastic perspective of medicine before I applied to medical school. 

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Bryce: I played on the ice hockey team, so I immediately had a group of 25 friends. For those not immediately joining a sports team, I would recommend joining a club or at least engaging in all of the social events put on by the dorms. You should definitely live on campus your freshman year; if you like it, you can stay, and if you do not, you can find off-campus housing or join a fraternity or sorority. Greek life is quite prevalent on/near campus, but if you choose not to join (I chose to avoid Greek life), it is pretty easy to avoid, as well.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?  

Bryce: I did not use the Career Center much, as I was on a straight track to medical school. My friends and colleagues, however, went to several career fairs and got interviews/jobs as a direct result. The University of Washington is one of the most prestigious universities in the northwest, so all major companies (Boeing, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc.) recruit from it.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious? 

Bryce: The student union was just renovated, and it is absolutely gorgeous. They have a bowling alley, an arcade, ping-pong tables, a ton of dining options, a small bookstore, a bike repair shop, and more. The libraries are great, but the best and most beautiful ones are closed overnight. There is one 24-hour library, and they are currently renovating it, so it should be great when they finish. The best libraries have cubicles and big workspaces, but they do tend to get swamped during midterms and finals. There are a lot of off-campus study options, as well (e.g. coffee shops). 

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Bryce: Seattle is great. The music scene is fun, and there is always an event going on somewhere in the city. There are generally on-campus events every weekend. I did have some difficulty finding things to do on the weekends before I turned 21, but that can easily be changed by finding like-minded individuals willing to join you in exploring, going to movies, etc.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes? 

Bryce: The University of Washington has a huge student body… the typical entering class is 5,500 students, and there are more than 40,000 students if you count graduate students. Entry-level classes are generally quite large, ranging from 100-770 students. I really did not like my large classes, but thankfully they were few and far between, and the bulk of my work was in classes that were 30-60 students.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most. 

Bryce: Dr. Scott Freeman taught my entry-level biology class. This man could not only captivate a 400-person audience each day, but he truly cared about each of his students. I was working on campus my first two years, and one day he bought coffee from me about two hours before his class. I introduced myself, and he proceeded to say “hi” to me and call me by name for the next two years. He somehow recalled the name of every student who introduced him or herself to him, and nothing made him happier than learning that one of his old students achieved a goal. When I told him I got into medical school, he smiled as if I were his own son getting admitted. I hope to teach one day, and I will do my best to care about my students as much as Dr. Freeman.

Check out Bryce’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.