College Tours of Oregon and Washington: Visiting So. Oregon, Willamette, Lewis and Clark, Western Washington, Puget Sound and U of O

I know many people look towards their child’s college years with a frightening mix of sheer terror and nervousness that as parents, we might not have done everything we can to prepare them to fly out of our nest into the world. I’m right with you. This summer I could no longer put off the inevitable, and decided to face that which scares me: the college tour. A week prior to our departure we quickly went online and scheduled campus tours, admissions meetings, interviews, and appointments to meet track coaches at six universities in Oregon and Washington.

With a tight schedule, a few hotel reservations and a love of adventure, we set off for our first stop: Ashland, Oregon.

Fueled by Dutch Bros

We certainly saw some majestic scenery along the way!

Mt. Shasta, California
Mt. Shasta, California

It was refreshing to see Shasta without being in the middle of a snowstorm….

Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon
Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon

One of the goals of this trip was to see not only the university campuses, but to also get a feel for what the communities are like: location, location, location. Ashland’s Lithia Park is a mile off campus, and looks like a great place to hang out.

Paddington Station, Ashland, Oregon
Paddington Station, Ashland, Oregon

Ashland, Oregon is known for its Shakespeare Festival, but for me, the dozens of restaurants, coffee shops, and cute boutiques like Paddington Station would be reason enough to live here!

Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University

Our first official campus visit was to Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. It’s a public school of about 6,000 students.

 

Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University

We even stopped by on the way home to check out the track – wouldn’t you love working out if you had this view?

Southern Oregon University track
Southern Oregon University track

Day two took us north to Salem, Oregon to visit Willamette University.

Willamette University in Salem, Oregon
Willamette University in Salem, Oregon

Willamette is a small private liberal arts college located in the capitol city of Oregon. The campus houses about 2,000 students.

Willamette University
Willamette University

They have a grove of trees on campus that is supposed to form a star shape in the sky…I can almost see it.

Willamette University
Willamette University

The capitol is right across the street – great for internships.

Willamette University
Willamette University

A river runs right through the small campus – it covers approximately one square block.

Willamette flowers
Willamette flowers

I started thinking maybe one criteria she should use is how beautiful the flowers are on each campus.

Willamette University flowers
Willamette University flowers
Willamette University
Willamette University

She was a bit nervous in her admissions interview…and then had a good meeting with the track coach.

Next stop: Portland, Oregon for Lewis and Clark University. We were a bit intimidated by the formality of the admissions building!

Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Oregon
Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Oregon

Lewis and Clark is another small, liberal arts college. She wanted to visit Lewis and  Clark due to the proximity to one of her favorite places: Mt. Hood.

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The best part of Lewis and Clark University – Mt. Hood far in the distance.

I’m not sure she could really concentrate with this view every day – of course, it rains a lot there…

Lewis and Clark University campus
Lewis and Clark University campus

This campus was hilly and green; the tour guide says it is on park land. It felt like we were in the redwoods.

Learning to Snapchat
Learning to Snapchat

I learned on this trip that smart phones are a critical part of a teenager’s social life…so I bought her a lemonade and made her teach me how to Snapchat. I don’t really see the appeal – I found it frustrating to learn!

The next morning we drove up to Tacoma, Washington to see the University of Puget Sound.

University of Puget Sound
University of Puget Sound

Like many of the schools we visited, UPS is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It’s slightly bigger than the Oregon liberal arts colleges we visited – around 2,900 students.

University of Puget Sound
University of Puget Sound

The campus was beautiful and green…they say it mists here-not hard rain. It reminded us a lot of Stanford, just a smaller scale.

University of Puget Sound flowers

Their flowers were gorgeous, too!

University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington
University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington

By the time she interviewed, here, she was a pro. She loved the campus, the people, and the track program. Pole vaulting in the rain will take some getting used to!

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University of Puget Sound
University of Puget Sound view of Tacoma
University of Puget Sound view of Tacoma

A fast exit from UPS put us on the road to Bellingham, Washington – very close to the Canadian border. Lots of miles, but we’re still smiling!

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Western Washington University

Western Washington is a public university with approximately 15,000 students. The campus is nestled right next to a forest. It rained.

Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington
Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington

It actually never stopped raining the whole time we were in Bellingham…in August. Noted.

 Bellingham, Washington
Bellingham, Washington

Our next road trip day was the one we were sort of dreading – over 500 miles to drive before 1:00 to make it to the University of Oregon in Eugene.

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In case you’re wondering, we smiled when we saw this bike because it had a ski strap attached to the frame…made her feel right at home.

Friendly Hall at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon
Friendly Hall at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon

What else can I say about U of O? Everyone was nice and friendly here!

University of Oregon flowers
University of Oregon flowers

The flowers were pretty, too. Oh – and they have a pretty nice track.

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University of Oregon track

We spent our last night visiting family in Grants Pass, Oregon. Southern Oregon is simply beautiful.

Outside Circle J in Grants Pass, Oregon
Outside Circle J in Grants Pass, Oregon

I have to say that after our 1,800 mile college tour, not only was I glad to be home, but also we both felt a little less terrified about the college experience. I think she’s actually ready to fill out some applications, and even write the essays. She’s got a lot to consider: location, weather, food, community, flowers, ski teams, track teams, family, mascot, school colors…and cute tour guides. That’s what matters when choosing a college, right?

grateful to be home
grateful to be home
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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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What You Grow To Be

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”

~J.K. Rowling

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Visiting the track at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon.

Sitting in my garden tonight, watching the sun set, with my dog on my lap. An evening of reflection and gratitude after 1,800 miles driven over six days, visiting colleges from Ashland, Oregon to Bellingham, Washington. I’m so thankful we were able to spend this time together, just us two. From the day she was born, I’ve watched over her as she attempted all her ‘firsts’, soaring through life with grace. This time, I’m watching differently.

This time, I observed my first born take it all in, her blue eyes scanning the campuses for reflections of herself, searching for that connection that would whisper to her, Yes, you belong here. This is where you will grow.

As the sun sets on her high school career, another life-episode calls to her, nudging her closer to the woman she is destined to be and farther from where she was born. I can see it in her eyes- the twinkle of slight recognition as she returns home tonight just a little different than when she left. She is no longer the child she was days ago-now,she is reaching for the light when before, just as she reached out, she shivered.

It doesn’t matter what she was born to be…she is creating, choosing, forming herself every day. The decision is hers. This time, right now, I’ll sit back, support her, nurture her, and marvel as she grows and blooms into something spectacular.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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