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seattle university

How to Find the College that Fits You Best

Know What You Want in a College High school graduation rolls around and you’re off to college sooner than you think. Between now and then, you face one of the most important decisions that will impact the next phase of your life. College is already on your radar. You want to get into a good school, acquire skills for professional development and explore more of what life has to offer. It can be overwhelming. How do you select the right school, one that fits who you are? Academics, campus life, location, activities and programs are all factors to consider. This guide is a starting point.

Take a Quick Quiz About Yourself No one college or university is right for everyone. Each school is different. You have to decide what’s most important to you. When asked that question, Makenna Coe Smith, ’11, a mechanical engineering major from Pocatello, Idaho, said, “Small classes, somewhere that I thought I would make friends easily, had my major and was in the Northwest.” Now’s a good time for a thoughtful self-assessment. Answers to these questions can help you determine what you need from a college environment to thrive. Ask yourself . . .

What do you want most in a college or university?

Are you quiet? Outgoing? Inquisitive? Self-reliant? Creative? Reflective?

Do you crave adventure and love to explore life on your own?

Do you want to stay close to home?

Are you seeking a rural, suburban or urban environment?

Do you feel most comfortable in a familiar setting?

Do you like to have several options before you make a decision?

Do you prefer small or large classes?

What are your greatest passions?

A Timeline to Keep You on Track As you weigh your options, a timeline can guide you through the application and admission process.

JUNIOR YEAR All Year Continue studies in gateway subjects (English, social studies/history, foreign language, mathematics, laboratory science)

October Take Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT)

February Start to receive brochures from universities and colleges inviting you to request information; return cards or inquire online to get on the mailing lists

March-May Attend college nights and fairs to meet college and university representatives throughout the United States

November Request counselor and teacher recommendation letters on your behalf

December Recommended time to forward applications to your school counselor to complete and send to universities and colleges of your choice for regular decision

June Register for senior gateway subjects (English, social studies/history, foreign language, mathematics, laboratory science)

July-August Start touring college campuses

January 1 Earliest opportunity to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at

February 1 FAFSA deadline to receive priority financial aid consideration (or no later than 30 days from date of admission)

May-June Take American College Test (ACT) and/or Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) for the first time

SENIOR YEAR September-November Meet with college representatives who visit your school Attend college night/fair programs Continue to visit colleges and universities

October-November Repeat the ACT or SAT Decide which colleges you will apply to and find out what is needed to submit an application

Optimal time to prepare applications November 15 Seattle University’s Early Action and Sullivan Leadership Award application deadlines

January 15 Seattle University’s regular decision priority deadline

Small or Large Think about whether you want a big school or a small one. There are advantages to both. Whether an institution is a college or university has nothing to do with how big it is. Either can be small or large. A college typically focuses on one field of study, such as engineering, or a group of related fields, such as liberal arts. A university is comprised of colleges and schools and is likely to have more degree options. A small university offers an intimate setting where you get to know most of the other students and your professors. Small classes, personal attention and an inclusive campus are the main characteristics. A large university sometimes resembles a city within a city, with an expansive campus and many students. Some advantages are the range of choices students have in their studies, majors and activities.

The classes are small, which makes for a better learning environment, and the city provides many opportunities to start careers and participate in internships.” —Ashley Cayme, ’14, communications major from Hilo, Hawaii

Liberal Arts or Preprofessional Studies Whatever your professional or career interests, you are building a foundation of knowledge. If you know the career you hope to pursue, take a close look at the professional college or school you are considering. Even if you are already directed toward a specific career, a liberal arts background will

Interest in Research or Teaching When you explore universities, you may

faculty at research institutions concentrate

find yourself looking at some that focus

most on research. You find personal

on research and others that emphasize

instruction from scholars and professors at

teaching. Whether the field is medicine,

those schools that focus on teaching.

the social sciences or marine biology,

round out your experience and teach you to apply knowledge of the world to your life and your work. Liberal arts provide a general knowledge on a range of educational subjects to develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Preprofessional studies combine academics and training to best prepare you for a specific profession or industry.

As a freshman, I’m not entirely sure what I want to pursue as a career; however, SU has given me the opportunity to explore many areas of study and has finally helped me realize where my passions lie academically.” —Anna Long, ’14, history/economics

Urban or Rural Location may seem secondary to your educational needs and interests. Sometimes students don’t consider whether they’d be happier in an urban or rural setting until after they choose a college or university. Yet your surrounding environment can have an impact on academics as well as lifestyle. Often it’s as much a part of your education as the classroom.

Living On or Off Campus Whether to live on campus or commute

year and some for the second year as well.

Rural settings can offer great scenery and accessibility to

to campus is another consideration. Many

Commuter students live off campus and

outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, skiing and more.

universities and colleges require students

come to school by car, public transportation,

to live in residence halls for their first

cycling or walking.

By contrast, urban locations offer greater access to major industries, cultural offerings and mass transportation. What region suits you best is another factor. Sometimes an urban location can have easy access to outdoor activities or a rural setting isn’t far from a major metropolitan area. Now is a good time to explore and give serious thought to location as you choose a school to attend.

What made it difficult was choosing between schools that were very similar. I knew I wanted the urban setting, preferably on the West Coast. In the end, it came down to choosing what city I wanted to live in and…I decided to get to know a new city.” —Miguel Campos, ’14, international business major from San Francisco, Calif.

Living on campus is pivotal to get the most out of your experiences.”

—Erin Lane, ’12, psychology major from Auburn, Wash.

Public or Private Private or independent colleges and universities are founded and operated by a variety of organizations, many with a religious affiliation. Private schools rely on endowments and tuition for their operations.

Dollars and Good Sense

Public colleges and universities are owned and operated by

The cost of a college or university can be

you on the path for your career. With your

intimidating. This is likely one of the most

increased earning power, your education pays

important financial decisions you will

for itself. You are investing in your future.

make. Your undergraduate education puts

Look for scholarships early and often, both through the university and outside. Work hard on your academics in high school and you will probably get an academic scholarship. Talk to the financial aid office and ask as many questions as you can.” —Sarah Kilcline, ’13, English major from Coronado, Calif.

the states in which they are located. The state sets tuition and goals and has a say in the management of the institution. State schools charge non-residents higher tuition than residents. Private and public schools often differ in student services, atmosphere and mission. Private schools usually have a close working relationship with local businesses and industry. Their missions and goals are often based on the ideas and beliefs of their founders.

I was seeking a university that would allow me to grow holistically. I wanted to be able to progress both academically and in my Catholic faith. I wanted to be able to participate in volunteer opportunities and give back to the community, and be surrounded by people who genuinely cared about helping to make the world better.” —Dana Rodriguez, ’14, sociology major from Los Angeles, Calif.

Accreditation and Rankings For colleges and universities, accreditation reflects the quality and value of an education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, accreditation “is the recognition that an institution maintains standards requisite for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice.” When researching colleges and universities, you might come across rankings for specific programs, schools, campus life, student interests and the like. Some of the most notable and reliable ranking guides include U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review’s annual Best Colleges and the Fiske Guide to Colleges. These rankings can be a good resource when you research a school and can give you a feel for life inside and outside of the classroom.

One of the major things I was looking for in a school was a sense of community and one in which the individual mattered.” —Haley Zitzmann, ’14, from Littleton, Colo.

Sampling of Accreditations Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

American Bar Association

Council on Social Work Education

American Chemical Society

National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration

Association of Theological Schools AACSB International: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (Diagnostic Ultrasound)

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Admissions Terms ACT


American College Test (one of two aptitude tests typically required for admission).

Non-refundable fee required by colleges and universities to secure an offer of admission or a housing assignment.


Early Action

Graduates of an institution, men or women.


An opportunity to be considered for admission before applications for the regular admission cycle are received and evaluated. Early Action is not binding and allows students to wait before committing to a particular institution.

Male graduate of an institution.

Early Admission


Female graduate of an institution; group of female graduates: alumnae.


Advanced Placement: refers to accelerated, demanding college-level course work taught in high schools. Often students receive college credit for sufficiently high scores on examinations given following completion of Advanced Placement courses.

An option that allows admission and enrollment prior to high school graduation, following completion of your junior year. This may require an on-campus interview, letters of support to ensure the necessary maturity and concurrent completion of high school graduation requirements in the first year of college. Early Decision

Candidate’s Reply Date

The notification/deposit deadline for most colleges and universities in the United States.

Consideration for admission before applications for the regular admission cycle are received and evaluated. Early decision is binding.

Students must indicate the institution is their first choice and they will enroll if offered admission. They are precluded from applying early decision to more than one institution and agree to withdraw all applications for regular admission if admitted. FAFSA

Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the initial and fundamental application for financial aid; completion is required for federal aid consideration at IB

International Baccalaureate refers to accelerated, demanding college-level course work taught in certain high schools and recognized throughout the world. In most cases, students receive college credit for sufficiently high scores on examinations following completion of International Baccalaureate courses. Independent

Privately supported, not state-run.

Ivy League

Rolling Admission

The original group of highly competitive universities that competed in athletics. Members include Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania.

Where colleges and universities evaluate students as soon as their applications are received and offer acceptance if their records meet the institution’s admission requirements.

Jesuit Schools


Colleges, universities and high schools around the world run by the Society of Jesus, an order of Roman Catholic priests. The 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States include Boston College, Holy Cross, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Marquette, Creighton, Fordham, Loyola Marymount, Loyola Chicago, Santa Clara, St. Louis University, Seattle University, University of San Francisco and others.

Scholastic Aptitude Test (one of two aptitude tests typically required for admission).


An applicant who has a relative, such as a parent or grandparent, who has graduated from the institution. NCAA

National Collegiate Athletic Association, which includes three divisions with different regulations. Divisions I and II can offer financial grants on the basis of athletic ability. Division III schools are prohibited from offering financial aid based on athletics. PSAT

Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test, typically taken in the fall of a student’s junior year in high school. This is not used for admission purposes but is the initial criterion for National Merit Scholarship consideration.

SAT Subject Test

Achievement tests in specific subjects, often required by highly selective institutions in combination with SAT. TOEFL

Test of English as a Foreign Language, required for admission for international student applicants and Americans and permanent U.S. residents for whom English is a second language. Wait List

Maintained when all anticipated openings in the entering class, or for a specific academic program, have been offered to earlier applicants. If openings become available, offers are extended to applicants on the wait list.

A Quick Look at College Degrees Undergraduate A student enrolled in college who has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree.

Graduate A student who has earned a bachelor’s degree and is working toward an advanced degree.

Associate’s Degree Two-year degree, usually earned at a community college.

Bachelor’s Degree Four-year degree; also an associate’s degree combined with two additional years at a fouryear school.

Master’s Degree Advanced degree; requires a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite to enrollment.

Doctoral Degree Most advanced degree; typically requires a master’s degree as a prerequisite to enrollment.

About Seattle University Founded in 1891, Seattle University is a four-year, independent university located on 50 acres in the heart of one of Seattle’s most diverse neighborhoods, just a short walk from downtown. Academic excellence is the leading objective of this Jesuit, Catholic university. SU’s urban and inviting campus has won many awards for its eco-friendly practices. Its central location presents a wealth of professional and personal growth opportunities. Outdoor enthusiasts can find parks, green spaces, Puget Sound, lakes and mountains nearby. Sports fans can cheer on professional sports teams at CenturyLink Field or Safeco Field or enjoy SU basketball at KeyArena at Seattle Center. There’s no shortage of live music venues, theaters, restaurants, coffee shops and art museums, all within walking distance. SU provides an intimate setting for undergraduate and graduate students, with all classes taught by accomplished faculty. Classes are small, typically no more than 25 students. There’s a 1:13 faculty-to-student ratio, which ensures plenty of interaction with leading scholars in their fields. U.S. News & World Report ranks SU among the top 10 universities in the West, a distinction the university has held for 10 consecutive years. This year, SU ranks 6th overall and 10th for best value for academic quality. Three out of four undergraduate students serve the community with volunteer activities, internships and professional development. Students, faculty and staff volunteer at more than three times the national average, which explains why The Princeton Review’s influential guide, The Best 373 Colleges, ranks SU among the top 20 universities in the nation for how well its students interact with the community.

Diversity played a huge role in what university I chose. I wanted to be sure to surround myself with as many people as I could who held different views, beliefs and histories than my own.” —Ashley Catlett, ’13, business management major from Bremerton, Wash.

In the past decade, the university doubled its enrollment of underrepresented minorities, with nearly half the graduates representing communities of color. SU has the most racially and ethnically diverse undergraduate population of any four-year college in the state. With eight schools and colleges and nearly 80 undergraduate programs, SU offers a range of majors and educational opportunities. You don’t have to select a major in your first two years. If you’re undecided, you can take classes of interest while counselors ensure you won’t miss any courses needed to graduate. If you have a major in mind, faculty can help you bring it into focus.

Visit the Campus Perhaps the best way to get to know Seattle University and what it has to offer is to experience it firsthand. To arrange a tour, call or visit SU online.

» (206) 220-8040 / (800) 426-7123 »

Seattle University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, political ideology or status as a Vietnam-era or special disabled veteran in the administration of any of its education policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics and other school-administered policies and programs, or in its employment related policies and practices. All university policies, practices and procedures are administered in a manner consistent with Seattle University’s Catholic and Jesuit identity and character. Inquiries relating to these policies may be referred to the university’s Vice President for Human Resources and University Services, and Equal Opportunity Officer at (206) 296-5870. Consistent with the requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its implementing regulations, Seattle University has designated three individuals responsible for coordinating the university’s Title IX compliance. Students or employees with concerns or complaints about discrimination on the basis of sex in employment or an education program or activity may contact any one of the following Title IX coordinators: Gerald V. Huffman, vice president for Human Resources and University Services, Equal Opportunity Officer, Rianna Building 214, (206) 296-5870,; Dr. Michele Murray, associate vice president of Student Development, Student Center 140C, (206) 2966066,; Dr. Jacquelyn Miller, associate provost for Faculty Affairs, Administration 104, (206) 296-5446, Individuals may also contact the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.

SU Profile FACTS

Jesuit Catholic One of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. and more than 100 around the world Faculty-to-student ratio: 1:13 719 total faculty Average class size: 20 Classes taught by professors: 100% Alumni Approximately 67,000 in all 50 states and 77 nations Tuition (2012–13) Full time: $34,200 Average room and board: $10,296 University enrollment Undergraduate: 4,631 Graduate: 2,124 Law: 1,000 Undergraduate profile 870 new freshmen 40% men; 60% women 53 states and territories and 89 nations represented 54% Caucasian 21% Asian/Pacific Islander 9% International students 8% Latino 5% African American 1% Native American 6% Unknown NOTE: individuals can self-identify with more than one race or ethnicity and are counted within each group, which results in a total of more than 100%.

Freshman class (middle 50%) GPA: 3.3–3.9 SAT math score: 520–630 SAT critical reading score: 530–630 SAT writing score: 530–630 ACT composite score: 24–28 41% from Washington state

UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS Albers School of Business and Economics Accounting; Business Economics; Economics; Information Systems; Finance; Individualized Major; International Business; Management; Marketing College of Arts and Sciences American Law and Politics; Art History; Asian Studies; Catholic Studies; Chinese; Communication Studies; Creative Writing; Criminal Justice; Cultural Anthropology; Digital Design; Drama; English; Environmental Studies; Film Studies; Fine Arts; French; German; Global African Studies; Global Awareness; Global Politics; History; International Studies; Italian; Japanese; Journalism; Latin American Studies; Liberal Studies; Medieval Studies; Military Science/ROTC; Music; Nonprofit Leadership; Philosophy; Photography; Political Science; Prelaw (Pre-professional Programs); Premajor (for freshmen and sophomores only); Psychology; Public Affairs; Social Welfare; Social Work; Sociology; Spanish; Sport and Exercise Science; Strategic Communications; String Performance; Theater; Theology and Religious Studies; Visual Art; Women Studies College of Nursing College of Science and Engineering Biochemistry; Biology; Cell and Molecular Biology; Chemistry; Civil Engineering; Computer Science; Computer Science–Business; Computer Science– Mathematics; Diagnostic Ultrasound; Electrical Engineering; Environmental Science; General Science; General Science–Preprofessional; Marine and Conservation Biology; Mathematics; Mathematics–Applied; Mathematics–Pure; Mechanical Engineering; Physics Matteo Ricci College Humanities; Humanities for Teaching; Humanities for Leadership Studies

To view SU’s Common Data Set and other noteworthy statistics, visit

Admissions (206) 220-8040 or (800) 426-7123 Financial Aid (206) 220-8020 or (800) 426-7123


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How to find a college that best fits you.