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Washington University

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I've visited Washington University twice: once for myself, and once just this past Friday with my oldest daughter. My own visit was an exercise in sheer frustration, as my Google map search did not reveal what I had forgotten (had I asked my dh about this, he would have enlightened me) regarding the major construction going on in St. Louis on Hwy. 40, which is close to the university. Thus, I was 25 minutes late for a 45 minute long appointment. :(


However, the visit with my oldest went much better. We were still late (the construction again), but thankfully only by 15 minutes.


Ours was a more standard college tour: We first went to undergraduate admissions and were given a talk by two students about the benefits of studying at Washington University. Washington University is very selective with its admissions: 32 is the average ACT score for entering freshmen. Also, according to a U.S. News and World Report ranking from a while back, Washington University is ranked 12th in the country. The teacher to student ratio is fairly low; only a few of the undergraduate courses have larger classes, and most of the classes are fairly small. I believe the university has around 12,000 students, but don't quote me on that figure.


After the talk by the two highly motivated students, we then went on the tour of the campus, which was the best part. The tour was given by students working in teams of two, and our larger group divided up into smaller groups of about a dozen parents with their children. The team giving the tour used small microphones and literally walked backwards throughout the entire tour--except going down steps! This would look odd to anyone else, but it was really very helpful because we could actually hear what they were saying! This was a huge contrast to our visit to St. Louis University, where we were in much larger groups, outside in the wind and the rain. The student giving the tour was not given a microphone, and I literally learned almost nothing on that campus tour. Washington University's tour was very professional. :) We were shown all around the campus, but the tour guides also showed sensitivity to our stamina (or lack thereof ;) ).


The campus was beautiful; I'm not sure how well I liked the gothic, castle-like architecture. It was nice; just not quite my tastes, personally, but overall it was still a lovely campus. The interior of the buildings was very well done; in fact, some of the fanciest I've ever seen on a college campus.


Unfortunately, we did not have time to meet with anyone in her department of interest, as I had to get back and pick up my other two girls from school.


Overall, we are all (including dd) still undecided about schools yet, and for a variety of reasons I'm not sure that Washington University would be the right place for her. For one thing, she'd have to get a great scholarship, because the undergraduate tuition alone is just over $36,000; since freshmen are required to live on campus the first year, the room and board tacks on another $12,000 to that price tag, for a grand total of $48,000. That's a lot of money!


I realize this is just a glimpse into Washington University, but these were my first impressions---the second visit without a doubt was a vast improvement over the first visit!

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Thanks, Michelle. Washington University would be a school that we would like to visit if it were a bit closer geographically.


About the tour technique: Our guide at Wesleyan made a point of stating that she would not walk backwards. Rather, there were nine key stopping points on campus where she paused to address the group. As we walked from place to place, she made a point of chatting with each high school student individually, asking them questions about their interest and answering any questions that they might have. I thought that this technique was most effective, putting the students at ease to ask questions away from the listening ears of parents.


The Wash U price tag is typical of most competitive colleges these days. It amazes me that these schools have as many Early Decision applicants as they do!

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I can definitely see where Wesley's tour technique would be effective; it makes sense to have certain stopping points from which to address things. I think that was the intent at St. Louis University, but the combination of the larger group, the wind and rain, and the fact that the tour guide had no microphone of any type made the tour very frustrating and largely a waste of time.


Yes, the price tag is daunting, to say the least. Ouch! The initial stop for the talk/discussion in the admissions office also emphasized early decision applications. A lot of this would depend upon how the eldest does on her ACT on June 13th. Also, I think Washington University's scholarships are granted by department, but I could be wrong. That was one question I meant to ask for further clarification, as the young women who gave the talk at the admissions office made mention of it. I wondered that if the scholarships are granted by department, if the students are encouraged to make early decisions about majors as well. :confused: But, my understanding of that whole issue is very fuzzy at this point, so I need to emphasize my own lack of ignorance on this point.


Honestly, so far our favorite visit has been at Truman State University. Although a state university, it's been ranked as highly as many private colleges; their average ACT score is 29 (lower than Washington University's 32), but 1/3 of their freshmen class score a 31 or above on the ACT. And, the price tag is $12,000 for tuition and $14,000 or so with room and board. The admissions officer at Truman said that, although they don't have that many graduate programs, they strive to be the best undergraduate institution around. Thus, when it comes to balancing top quality academics with tuition costs, Truman looks pretty good from here!

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Thanks for posting this, Michelle. Washington University is on our list to visit near the end of June. I appreciate the heads up about the construction! We are quaking at the price tag too (as well as the selectivity). We're hoping for scholarships, but who knows...


Interesting about the different tour techniques. We experienced both when we visited University of Minnesota and University of Iowa in April. At the U of M, our tour guide (all the tour guides, in fact) walked backwards the whole time, which was good as he had a fairly soft voice and no microphone. At Iowa, the tour was like what Jane described, with stops at various points. There the terrain was such that it wouldn't have been practical or safe to walk backwards (and it was cold and windy too.) Both ways turned out to be pretty effective, I thought, although it was always best if you were standing or walking near the tour guide! :)

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I guess the key with all of these tours is to find a way best suited to the campus and the terrain and the format of the tour (i.e., larger groups or one-on-one or somewhere in between) that will best get the message across. I think my tour at St. Louis University would have been more successful had we not been there for their Junior Visit Day when there were large crowds of people.


I graduated from the University of Minnesota and loved the older part of the campus there, with the huge mall and buildings around the mall. I never took a tour prior to my first day of classes, though. I had a few nightmares before classes started about getting lost on campus. The U of M is a huge campus!

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