College: University of Idaho – http://www.uidaho.edu/
Location: Moscow, Idaho (a small college town 1 1/2 hours from Spokane, WA and 15 minutes from WSU-Pullman)
Type of Institution: Public university
Size: ~9,500 undergraduates
Admissions Advice: University of Idaho admits students primarily based on a combination of GPA and standardized test scores and is a fairly accessible university. This chart illustrates the combination required for admission. The university (like most public universities) is not as concerned about students showing demonstrated interest or cultural fit with the college as it is a medium-sized school with more than 100 different academic majors.
Most popular majors: Education, business, economics, forestry,engineering, environmental sciences
Words to describe students I met: down-to-earth, Greek (fraternity/sorority), outdoorsy, active, friendly
Unique academic aspects: My tour guide shared a number of anecdotes about unique University of Idaho academic programs throughout my visit. For business or economics majors, they offer an upper-level trading class where students actually invest real money (thousands of dollars!) in the stock market. At the end of the class, the school absorbs any losses while students who do well can donate money back to the university, often selecting where it goes.
Additionally, the university prides itself on hands-on learning, in some ways bridging the gap between a smaller liberal arts education and a large research university. Because the school is smaller and focused on undergraduates primarily, there are many research opportunities on campus and approximately 70% of students participate each year. However, as a state university and one of the most important research centers in the region, the school has ties in with local industry as well. Though Idaho isn’t quite a Tier I research university, it does still have a “high research activity” rating by the Carnegie Foundation. University of Idaho is constructing a new research center which will serve as a hub of interdisciplinary research activity starting in the next year or two.
Unique social/cultural aspects: Students at University of Idaho are a whole different level of outdoorsy. The school boasts the tallest climbing wall west of the Mississippi and the outdoor recreation center offers tons of subsidized expeditions every weekend. They also offer one of the nation’s only Fire Ecology programs and have strong environmental sciences research opportunities. Not necessarily “unique” but notable is the fact that the Greek system is popular among Vandals – about 40% of students participate and can even start living in Greek housing starting freshman year.
Colleges that seem similar: Washington State (located just 15 minutes down the highway), Colorado State – Fort Collins, University of Montana, Eastern Washington University
Concerns about this college: Moscow, Idaho is definitely a college town. Families who visit in the summer don’t come back with great impressions of the area due to the fact that the vibrancy of the area is completely tied to the academic calendar. Students seeking more exciting off-campus opportunities or city experiences may not enjoy this college. Additionally, like most public universities the majority of students come from Idaho. Because the state itself is not very ethnically diverse, this carries over to the campus population. About 75% of University of Idaho students are Caucasian, so for a student coming from a highly diverse part of the country, Idaho may be a bit of a shock.
Overall impressions: I enjoyed my visit to University of Idaho even though it was a dreary day. The beauty of the campus and surrounding area really surprised me. The campus visit program was well organized and thorough – they are very welcoming! I could see very outdoorsy students thrive at University of Idaho, as well as students interested in conservation and ecology programs unique to the Inland Northwest region. As expected, the campus diversity and surrounding town did not blow me away, but it means the community on-campus and in the Greek system is strong.