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In the heart of Oregon’s capital city lies the oldest college west of the Mississippi River – Willamette University. Founded in 1842, it even pre-dates Oregon’s statehood! On a recent visit to Willamette’s lovely Salem campus, with its giant Sequoias and the peaceful Mill Stream that runs through its center, we learned what makes Willamette special.

Emphasis on teaching and students: Willamette’s undergraduate enrollment is just north of 1,360, but typical pre-pandemic incoming classes typically exceeded 500 and last year’s was 525. Admissions recruiters like to add an important number when they toss out the average class size of 15 and the 12:1 student/faculty ratio: zero, as in “zero students fall through the cracks.” Teaching is the priority here: for 11 of the 20 years of the Oregon Professor of the Year awards, the honor went to a Willamette faculty member. In addition, the culture is one of involvement and support, with students regularly attending campus sports and performances to support their classmates.

Capital advantages: The campus is steps from the State Capitol – 76 feet, to be exact! This and other nearby state government buildings enable easy access to internships for political science majors and other interested students. Willamette is also across the street from Salem Health, a large hospital where healthcare majors do clinicals and observations. Salem itself, a town of 180,000, is home to a bevy of locally owned businesses and boasts excellent thrifting. Riverfront Park and the Willamette River are nearby for nature lovers.

Partnership with Tokyo International University: Through Willamette’s unique, 57-year-old partnership with TIU, around 100 Japanese students come to campus each year and Willamette students have the opportunity to study and do research in Japan. Willamette even has an all-Japanese cuisine dining commons to help visiting students feel right at home!

The only BS/MS in Data Science/Computer Science: Willamette has the only such program in the U.S. currently, and students need not come in knowing that they want to complete this particular program to be able to do it. Speaking of competitive majors…

No impacted majors: Students are admitted to the broader university, indicating an academic area of interest, not a major. Most declare by end of sophomore year. Engineering students finish their degrees at Washington University or Columbia University.

Focus on affordability: Fully 100% of admitted students receive a minimum of $22k in merit aid. Willamette does not use the CSS Profile.

Admissions reps say that quiet leaders thrive at Willamette. If this sounds like you, consider learning even more!

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