Coming from a small private high school, the University of Washington first daunted me with it's size. It seems that I'm always discovering new buildings each week on parts of campus that I didn't even know existed. I've gotten more used to it after a few semesters, and now when I see someone I actually recognize as I cross campus or get lunch, it makes those moments that much more special. I commute about 40 minutes by carpool, then hike another 15 minutes across campus to get to class everyday. Parking isn't free, and sometimes the parking meters eat up my money without letting me in, and the parking police are viciously strict. The thing I suppose I like the most about Washington is the campus. The buildings are beautiful, lawns manicured, and there are tons of places to go sit and hang out with your friends. It's even nicer when it's sunny. The thing I hate the most is that as soon as it becomes dark, campus is creepy. We have our own police department, but students still get attacked if they walk alone (or even in small groups) during the night.
UW is a large school in an urban environment. Supposedly, there are safety issues, but I think that's mostly around greek row late on Friday or Saturday nights. You can be very anonymous (which could be good or bad). I don't think anyone would call it cozy. I think there are many opportunities here, more than at a small or non-research school, but you have seek them out. It's a fairly diverse campus. It's hard to make any kind of blanket statement about the quality of instruction or how the classes are taught. The econ department has way too many majors (admission is not competitive), so the upper level classes are kinda big (~40) and you won't feel part of a community, while on the other end of the spectrum the computer science department seems like a tight-knit group (I should mention that there seem to be a lot of female CS majors). A friend of mine is in paper science, which is definitely tight-knit since there are only a few dozen people in the program. I don't regret going to such a big school. I enjoy having such a wide range of classes available.
I love Washington. My school is great. It offers many great opportunities for students future success. Students are proud of the school. One thing I dislike about my school is how it is bias when it comes to political views. I can understand if students were to promote their political candidate to obtain supports. But when they held a "You Decide" event to understand both presidential candidates, I saw a very bias view. I believe that this type of events should promote an open, unbias thinking to learn both side. While I was at the event, I saw that the students embrace Obama while criticizing Mccain (Note: I am not showing a bias view. I am not voting for either candidates since I believe that they both are worthless pieces of shit). For this "You Decide" event, I true believes that they should have an open mind and use this event to understand the goods and the bads on both side and not a mean to rally support for their own personal agenda. This is not a Barrack Obama rally campaign so it should not have been one.
People generally seem pretty impressed when I tell them I'm a grad student at UW. I maintain it's because they don't know how hostile the environment is to conservative-leaning students. The organization caters to the radical left. I have been insulted, yelled at, censored, and ostricized for voicing any conservative viewpoint--by faculty and students alike. My ethics, law, and policy course was taught by a communist who wasted most of the course's time talking about the shortcomings of a free market and how India and China even have better medical systems and how global warming is going to bring another ice age and we need to start modeling China in economics and global clean-up. I have been horribly disenfranchised by UW and will never recommend the school to anyone. I believe it can only be enjoyed by those from the far left end of the political spectrum.
I'm always proud to tell people I go to UW, because I think people are impressed by it. It's earned a reputation as being a prestigious school in our area. For the most part I enjoy going here; it has a gorgeous campus and there are always activities to do and new people to meet It also offers a wide variety of classes to take; from The two best classes I have taken were History of Jazz and Space and Space Travel. I found both of them absolutely fascinating and had so much fun taking them... it was a nice break from all the science/math classes I'm taking for my Biology major. I do sometimes dislike how large it is. At times I feel like I'm only a number, and I don't like how impersonal large lecture classes are. I'm a little worried about applying to grad school because I don't know my professors well enough to ask them for a letter of recommendation.
I love the size of UW. One thing I would change is the ability to get into classes. Since UW is so big, classes are some times difficult to get into, but besides that the size is good unless you want to be able to speak in classes. As a fresman lots of my classes are 500 students and they are not discussion based but lecture based. I really enjoy this because it allows me to learn it my own way and not be forced to speak. Also with classes this big we have quiz sectiosn which are discussion/review classes that are based off the class which only have 30 or so students. These sections are really helpful. Also the best part about the size of UW is taht there are so many people to meet. You dont know everyone or everything about one person, and there are so many chances to meet people. There is a ton of school pride especially during football season.
As mentioned above, UW is having some problems realizing its own size. For students who can succeed on a large campus, UW is ideal. There are tons of ways to get involved, and Seattle is a great city to live in. Granted, Seattle is not a college town, I have to admit that. But, with 40,000 students, the U District itself is a great place for college students, with the Ave, U Village (higher end shopping), and a vibrant Greek system, there is always something going on. Compared to peer universities, I would say we have slightly lesser school pride, with good turnout to classics such as Homecoming, football games, and other major college events. UW seems to suffer from a certain amount of student apathy, when students become jaded by the immensity of the campus, and are less likely to join clubs, or really get involved with anything.
The University of Washington is the perfect size. People complain about big classes, but I have not found that to be an issue, the higher up you get, the smaller the classes get. Its a great city/ urban environment that is always buzzing with activity. There are so many opportunities. If you want to make the community smaller, you can do that through Greek life, or joining a club, and more. When you tell people that you go to UW, they are impressed, it really means something to be accepted to UW. Anything you want to get involved in, you can, and if there isn't a club to fit you, you can make one. If you are a pre-law student like me, then you can join the pre-law society, which gives you tips about applying to law school, as well as connections to other pre-law students. At the UW there is no shortage of opportunities.
the best thing about Washington is everything! The people are all really friendly, and you have the best of two ecological worlds, Western Washington with it's abundance of Mountains and Eastern Washington with its desert feel. I would not change anything about Washington! I think at times the school can be rather daunting, ( like when during your first quarter of classes) but once you get into the hang of things taking a class with 250 people sounds small! People are generally, excluding fans of WSU, excited and/or proud to hear that I go to UW. I think the administration is very helpful, and there is most certainly school pride. I spend most of my time on campus outdoors in one of the various outdoor study areas, I don't know of that is what they are officially called but that is what I call them.
I loved the area around the University, but I wish I had left the U-District more often. The U-District is really a self-sufficient, self-contained bubble. Which is great-- everything is within walking distance! But I think it also kept me from exploring more of Seattle. Tragic since Seattle is such a fantastic city. I was dead-set on going to a small private college because I thought I would be more comfortable at a school where I knew everyone. But my parents said there was no way they could afford it, so to UW I went, and I'm sooo glad! The size forced me to grow up and get out of my comfort zone. Also, because of the size, UW has SO many resources that just aren't available at smaller schools. No matter what you need, there's somewhere you can go to get help or whatever it is that you need.