College counselor Jane Bauman attended a complimentary college counselor tour at Washington University in St. Louis (Wash. U.), March 6-7. Seventy-eight counselors from 26 states and three countries were there.
Q: What was your impression of Washington University in St. Louis before you visited?
A: I didn’t have much background, which is why I went. I knew that our students who went there loved it.
Q: Did your view of the university change?
A: I didn’t realize just how selective the university is. I like the set-up: a College of Arts and Sciences, a School of Engineering, a School of Business, and a School of Design and Visual Arts, which includes the School of Architecture. The disciplines are very well balanced there, and although there are several professional schools, it still has the programs and feel of a liberal arts college.
Q: Did you take a tour? Visit classes?
A: We were surrounded by admissions officers, recent grads, students and faculty. And we ate a lot!
We had a dinner with deans and students the first night. The next morning after breakfast, we had a mock admissions session, where we looked at real applications. We took a walking tour of the campus in small groups led by students. We had lunch with current students in a campus eatery.
Then we had a bus tour of St. Louis and drove by The Gateway Arch, the baseball stadium, the enormous central park, museums and historical landmarks. That night we had dinner with deans and faculty (three were at my table), and then we went out for a trivia night with the admissions staff. (My team tied for second.)
Q: What impressed you most?
A: I was impressed by how engaged the faculty are with students. The faculty are the advisors, and there are many: four-year advisors, major advisors, minor advisors and freshman floor advisors. The faculty are constantly interacting with students. It’s a very friendly, collaborative environment.
I was also surprised by the regional diversity. If you want to meet people from all over the U.S., this would be the place. Plus, there are two metro stops on campus. It’s easy to get to the airport and downtown.
Q: What did you find least attractive?
A: Well, I wasn’t there long enough to have any negative impressions, but there might be some seasons when the weather is not ideal. But we are spoiled here in California!
Q: What was the highlight?
A: There is an enormous statue of a bunny sitting on a rock called “Thinker on a Rock.” The students secretly knit sweaters for the bunny and stitch them on in the middle of the night. (The tradition started with an anonymous student who liked the bunny and felt that the bunny needed something for the winter.) No one knows who does it. It’s kind of funny to see a sculpture wearing a hand-knit vest!
Q: If you can describe the university in three adjectives, what would they be?
A: Interdisciplinary, collaborative, student-focused, happy. Okay, I know that’s four, but everyone was genuinely friendly.
Q: What would you say are schools similar to Wash. U.?
A: Well, the Fiske Guide says Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, UPenn and Stanford. But I never got the feeling the school was exclusive—in fact, just the opposite. Sure, it’s selective, but everyone there was humble and down-to-earth. No one ever bragged about how excellent they were. I only realized that in retrospect.
Q: If students are interested in Wash. U., what would you tell them? Maybe a piece of advice on their application?
A: You’ll need really good grades! And you should really know the school. For example, there is a cool major called “PNP” for psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy.