Evergreen really allows for creative thinking, for experimentation, liberation, and exploration. The collaborative effort amongst students is incredible and forces you to think independently and strongly, but also to listen to others and process information critically. Group discussions move quickly, rely on factual analysis but also leave room for hypothesis (as long as you can support it with facts!). The student body is diverse, opinionated, friendly, and open. Evergreen really makes you grow as a person--you have to in order to get credit. This is no place for passivity. It is active and engaging.
I liked the small class sizes, and the interpersonal relationship possibilities with students and faculty were much better than at a larger school. This came with both good and bad things, sometimes extra attention is great, sometimes it is NOT so great. I like the interdisciplinary nature of the classes, and the 16-credit programs definitely have their merits. I also like the ability of students to create contracts to fulfill their own educational goals. This made it easy for me to fill the prerequisites for my Master's program without having to take many separate classes.
The multi-disciplinary approach to learning. By taking one program for 1 to 3 quarters you are able to learn a great deal about any given subject. For example, in my current program we are learning about environmental education, the history of national parks, watershed ecology, field ecology, the natural history of Mount Rainier, visual art in education and the history of the indigenous peoples of the Puget Sound area. In addition there is a great deal of emphasis put on collaborative, place-based, and service learning. Plus you only have 2-3 faculty who are always accessible!
I think it the ideal place for intensive study. I'm a science student and with the amount of work I'm typically burdened with (because the science program is no joke), its nice to find solace in the forest surrounding the campus. IThe campus itself is relatively quiet, it feels very private from outside traffic, and it allows you the breathing room to calm your mind and senses. The faculty I've encountered are some of the best teachers I've ever had the priveledge to be taught by. They're adaptable, and most importantly, masters of their discipline.
I enjoy the academic freedom here at Evergreen. There are hardly any hoops to jump through when it comes to taking certain classes or getting involved with programs. This was a problem in the past for me at my old college. If I wanted to switch programs or majors, it was as if I had to start my education over. Meaning everything leading up to that point was practically null and void. Why do traditional colleges prioritize and marginalize prior learning? Anyways, Evergreen does not and that is probably one of it's greatest attributes-- freedom.
It is a small school, so if a student is struggling with their work, they can easily meet with their faculty to find another way to approach their studies. Students can take very interdisciplinary classes so even if you change your major from arts to science you will be satisfied with your courses. You really get what you put into your studies. Programs (classes) are graded through "evaluations" rather than a GPA, so if you slacked off, it isn't registered in a number, your teacher actually WRITES A PAGE about your performance in class.
There is a combination of two things that make The Evergreen State College the best and these are the opportunity to be treated like a person and to actually learn more in a smaller amount of time. We are not treated as members of the socially recognized category, or those who are enrolled in a social institution. Instead we're, in a deeper sense, we're in a category of human being. Not only do we get the chance to learn many subjects in our programs, we get to experience new things through clubs, internships, and volunteer positions.
The best thing about Evergreen is the passion. We don't recieve letter grades because everyone is evaluated based on their individual abilities and effort. It is not a competition, so students really have to try their hardest. It's apparent to the professors if you're holding back. Evergreen is truly a community of learners and students work alongside the professors. People are very focused on what they choose to study. People want to help newcomers understand their class material and become excited about it.
To me, the best thing about The Evergreen State College would have to be the personality of the school and, of course, the people. Being a part of a "green" community has really opened up and shared who I really am. Never before have I felt so accepted and excited to attend a school. Everyone is so friendly and helpful and they always seem to captivate me. With the unique atmosphere and aura of the campus, people who don't even attend the college come to enjoy the amazing aspects of the school.
My school allows students to feel like individuals yet still maintain friendships with people similar to them. It is a school that "makes you feel like a number" but you are noticed within the community. The staff are wonderful and are willing to help, even if you are not participating in any courses relating to their work. Resources are readily available with a library, computer lab, and Summit program. The environment is peaceful and easy to maintain a "noise-free" study area.