A small, public liberal arts college in Olympia, WA, the Evergreen State College is known for its unconventional, highly innovative approach to higher education. Founded in 1967, Evergreen came about by legislation, when the Washington Legislature voted to create a new college to meet the needs of the western part of the state, but Evergreen was never intended to be an ordinary regional college. From its beginning, Evergreen was built in the spirit of the 60s, focused on experiment, progressive ideals, diversity, and tolerance, and that special mission has translated into high praise over the years. Ranked a top 4 public regional institution for the West by U.S. News & World Report, and a best buy by Fiske and the Princeton Review, excellence is in Evergreen’s DNA.
Academic ProgramsEvergreen has been ranked the #1 school in the West for undergraduate teaching by U.S. News, a reflection of the institution’s unique makeup. Students work directly with faculty to develop their own academic program. Evergreen was designed to be highly interactive and interdisciplinary, so there are no conventional majors; students earn a BA or BS in whatever interdisciplinary program they develop with their advisors, with more than 60 possible field represented. Rather than traditional 3-credit courses each semester, students take one 16-hour quarter based around their concentration. Students receive narrative assessments, rather than conventional letter grades, from their instructors.
While it is not for everyone – the Evergreen method requires highly self-motivated, ambitious, and adventurous students – it certainly gets results. Evergreen’s high undergraduate teaching ranking is one sign, of course; another important sign is student success – 88% of graduates are employed or in graduate school within a year of graduation, and 92% within three years. Evergreen has the 3rd highest graduation rate out of Washington’s public universities. No wonder Evergreen has been named a College That Changes Lives.
Student LifeWith a student body of around 4000, Evergreen is smaller than most public universities, but large enough to create many opportunities for engagement and entertainment for students. Around 75% of Evergreen students are from Washington, but nearly every state and more than two dozen nations are also represented. Slightly more women than men make up the student body. A quarter of all students, and a quarter of all faculty, belong to a racial minority group, and more than 80% of all students come from a traditionally marginalized or underserved population, including first-generation, disabled, and low-income students.
When Evergreen was founded, the legislation required no less than a 600 acre campus, the largest in the state, and much of that large campus has been kept in a natural state for research, recreation, and preservation. The student body at Evergreen is historically, famously activist, as well as deeply engaged in community service and political action, from environmentalism and sustainability efforts to civil rights and free speech. Evergreen is also known for the weirdest, most unlikely mascot in higher education – Speedy the Geoduck (a large, burrowing clam). It’s pronounced gooey-duck, in case you’re wondering.