College: Seattle Pacific University
Location: Seattle, WA
Type of Institution: Private Christian university
Size: 3,200 undergraduates (+ 900 graduate students)
Admissions Advice: SPU is all about relationships. It is a small and supportive community, so the admissions office likes to get to know applicants before they even apply. The average admitted student has a A/B average in high school classes and 1130 on the SAT. They are also generous with merit scholarships for a high percentage of admitted students, often in the $15,000+ per year range. Awards are based primarily on scores and GPA.
Most popular majors: Business administration, psychology, nursing, communication, political science
Words to describe students I met: Friendly, conservative, welcoming, West Coasters (70%+ from WA & CA), religious
Unique academic aspects: As a Christian university, SPU has a number of majors and minors related to religion, theology, and counseling. For example, the Reconciliation Studies major is a great match for students hoping to work for non-profit organizations, ministries, churches, or as social workers. Additionally, they offer a Global Development Studies major for students interested in working as missionaries, aid workers, or for non-governmental organizations both here and abroad.
SPU has also grown its Engineering and Computer Science programs in recent years because, well, Seattle is a good place to be for jobs in those fields. Students in these programs must complete an internship to graduate.
Unique social/cultural aspects: Dorm life is a big part of the student experience at SPU. My tour guide raved about all of the social activities and traditions that take place in the dorms, and how common it is for students to make lifelong friends in those first few weeks of freshman year. Each dorm has Resident Assistants, Student Ministry Coordinators (per floor), and an elected hall council charged with promoting community, planning events, and otherwise helping students to connect to one another. As a result, my guide and other students I’ve met commented that SPU students don’t often get off campus to take advantage of the social and cultural experiences in Seattle. For some students, the tight-knit on-campus community is a plus, while for others it may be a negative.
Colleges that seem similar: Azusa Pacific University, Whitworth University, Warner Pacific University, Calvin College
Concerns about this college: As with any religiously-affiliated college, the experience isn’t for everyone. SPU is on the more liberal end of the Christian university spectrum, and they do not require students to profess their faith to gain admission to the college. They also do not require chapel attendance. However, students are required to take three fairly intense classes on Christianity, and more than 75% of their fellow students are part of the Christian faith. As a result, SPU is a best match for students who are Christian or those who are very open to exploring faith and spirituality during their college years.
Overall impressions: SPU is a great option for students seeking a religious education in the heart of a large, progressive city. The school is small and administrators are very supportive of their students, from the admission process until graduation. I’ve been continually impressed with SPU’s support of transfer students who often face many more barriers as they continue their higher education.