What is it Like to Attend Willamette University?

Emily earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Willamette University. She specializes in algebra tutoring, economics tutoring, and a number of other subjects. Below, she shares her experience at Willamette University:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options. 

Emily: The campus is in the heart of Salem, Oregon, which is a moderately-sized city. The campus is right across the street from the Oregon State Capitol, making it really convenient for students to have internships or even part time jobs while going to school. It is right on the edge of downtown, so there are some good restaurants. It is within walking distance of a mall as well. I didn’t need a car while attending school, because everything was within walking distance and buses are available. The campus is also close to a few parks, so it’s good for runners and people who are active. In general, it’s pretty safe as long as you avoid going off campus by yourself at night.

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

Emily: Willamette is a small liberal arts college, so there aren’t any teaching assistants. Class sizes are small and, in general, the professors are incredibly helpful and highly available for students. The departments are small, so you typically get to know all of the professors really well during your four years. They also make sure that tutors are available to students. The benefit of going to a small school like Willamette is that you get to easily access your professors.

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

Emily: At Willamette, students live on campus for two years. The rooms are pretty large for dorms and the dining options are good. There are a lot of on-campus activities, which make it easy for students to meet each other.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? 

Emily: I think that all of the departments are well supported. I studied economics, because that is what I was most interested in from the beginning. My professors were all really helpful and I was able to get involved in the department as a tutor during my last year in the program.

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?

Emily: I thought it was incredibly easy to make friends as a freshman. Greek life at Willamette is a little different than at other schools. All of the sororities are on-campus, so women who pledge move into the house during their second year rather than staying on the main campus in the dorms. The sororities all offer their own meals as well, so you don’t see their members during meal times. This was one of the things that I didn’t like as a student, because I believe it created unnecessary divides in the community. I was not a part of Greek life and I feel that by not joining, I lost some friends. Fraternities are mostly off campus, so while there may be a lot of members, they still remain a part of the Willamette community.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services?  

Emily: I mostly used the career center after graduating while applying to graduate school. I think they were overall pretty helpful. I think that if you’ve never written a cover letter or applied for a job before, then the career center is a really good resource.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Emily: I was a library studier. The Willamette Library is a great size, and is separated into a quiet area and a group study area. The only time the library got overly crowded was during finals week, but you could usually find a spot in the quiet section. The other great study spot on campus is the coffee shop called the “Bistro.” If you’re someone who likes studying in a fun atmosphere with music, it’s a great place. In general, most students didn’t study in the dorm lounges. Some classrooms also remain unlocked (you have to use your card to get into the building), so that was also a common place for students to study.

Describe the surrounding town.

Emily: Salem definitely isn’t a city atmosphere. There are good restaurants downtown, good running areas, and good shops. There aren’t a lot of options for activities, but overall, I think students like what is available.

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

Emily: Class sizes are amazing at Willamette. In general, I’d have around 25 students in a class, but there are also many discussion-based classes that only have 8-10 students. The student body is relatively small, so it’s nice because you get to know everyone!

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

Emily: I think my relationship with my advisor was a really great one. I met him as a prospective student (he was the department chair), I took my first economics course with him, and then he became my advisor. Our relationship was really helpful as I made decisions about my thesis, chose classes, and graduated. If you use the resources to your advantage, you can make so many great relationships with faculty and staff that will help you to succeed both in school and after graduation.

Check out Emily’s tutoring profile.

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