It's a peaceful community of students. There is a real community between students & faculty/admin. EVERYONE cares for the WHOLE person & are willing to be genuinely humble & helpful. This has provided a safe place to learn without all the unnecessary stress usually between over-demanding, unflexible faculty who work against students at other colleges. Evergeen set the tone & so its students follwed & feel good about what they are learning. And the faculty, although reasonably demanding, are flexible when flexibility is called-for. This has built trust between faculty & administration, & the students in attendance. The faculty & admin. operate transparently.
Contracts. At TESC you can find exactly what you want from a class by just making one yourself with the aid of the college. Need a class on physics and areoplane engineering? Write a contract, get a faculty sponsor, and head over to bowing or the like and get an internship and learn the works. Also unique about TESC is that it offers programs not class. Take a 16 credit art class and you also learn, religion, history, sociology, goegraphy, bussiness, natural philsophy. Take a class and learn more than just words in a book.
I didn't even consider other schools once I read up on Evergreen. It's more like a grad-school than the average college. The interdisciplinary studies are what won me over from the start. You learn how to fit things to-gether and it's so amazing! We have evaluations instead of impersonal letter grades, which can make it complicated for transfers, but I feel they are a lot more meaningful and give students a chance to explain how they personally improved and where they could have done better. We're never graded on a curve.
Evergreen is different in many different ways. I think the most profound difference is the evaluation system versus a letter grade. After years of being a letter or a number which is the mean value of - who cares. All of a sudden you are able to say "yes i missed a few classes, BUT I did work and I had this big understanding". It is the best thing in the world, that liberating feeling, of not being another number to the prof and being able to have a say in what your learning actually means.
The main thing that interested me in The Evergreen State College is that it was an alternative liberal arts school as well as a 'Green' school. When I had a tour of the school it was a beautiful campus surounded by trees and secluded. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and didn't judge me for what I was wearing or looked like. When i went to my first class I enjoyed it so much. It was hands on and I love that instead of the typical GPA grading system, they have evaluations.
Students sign up for one program that can last one, two or three quarters. Each program covers an aspect of various areas of study, occasionally combining them for a new look at the material. Essentially, each student has only one class, which allows them to get a more in-depth look at the subject matter. At the end of the quarter, teachers provide an evaluation of the student instead of a letter grade and have a conference with the student to review the evaluation.
At other schools I used to say: " If I don't do this assignment, I'll get a B for te class; OK, I'll take the B." But at Evergreen, you have to work really hard because you are "graded" on effort and improvement. You are also often evaluated on attendance and participation. Some people say you need to be self-motivated at Evergreen, but I found I had to be much less self-motivated than at schools where I could skip class with impunity.
You have complete flexibility to individualize your curriculum, especially with regards to study abroad opportunities. Everybody here is passionate about what they study because they have the flexibility to choose to study wherever there interests are without having to deal with general education graduation requirements that are irrelevant to one's post-grad plans.
Pretty much everything about my school is unique compared to my other choices. The curriculum is largely interdisciplinary and allows students a considerable degree of independence in their studies. These features, along with the college's reputation have drawn a far more interesting student body than your avergae run-of-the-mill school.
The Evergreen State College does not grade it's students via the GPA system, additonally, the student is free to study individually should they prefer personal education over classroom settings. This institution works very closely with local and international grassroots organizations, as well as governmental and military affiliations.