Visiting Colleges

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As you begin the college search process, it is important to investigate a variety of schools so you can see how you feel about some basic features such as size, location, and campus life. It in not necessary to visit every school you might want to apply to; colleges of similar types can serve as “templates” for others in different parts of the country. The University of Oregon, Portland State University, and the University of Washington can give you a good sense of what life is like at large public universities, so they are reasonable templates for, say, the University of Colorado, Michigan, or Massachusetts. Similarly, Reed, Lewis & Clark, and Linfield can be good templates for smaller liberal-arts colleges like Occidental, Denison, or Wesleyan. You can find out a lot about your preferences by making a few local visits first, then using the information you gather to fine-tune an itinerary in another part of the country.

Here are some suggestions for a range of West Coast schools you may want to visit. Mix things up a bit and keep an open mind as you plan an itinerary – you may surprise yourself and find a great match at a school you haven’t really considered before. Schools listed below are roughly divided by size; those labeled “special interest” have distinctive approaches to undergraduate education or specialize in particular academic areas. If you would like sample itineraries for other parts of the country, please e-mail the college counselors. We’ll be happy to offer suggestions.


Small: Reed College, Lewis & Clark College, Linfield College, Pacific University, Willamette University

Medium: University of Portland, Southern Oregon University, Oregon State University

Large: University of Oregon, Portland State University

Special interest: Pacific Northwest College of Art, Oregon Institute of Technology, Art Institute of Portland

Gap year: Benedictine Sisters Volunteer Program, Portland Mercury Internships, Partnerships for Student Achievement, Carpe Diem


Small: Whitman College, University of Puget Sound, Seattle University

Medium: Gonzaga University, Western Washington University

Large: University of Washington

Special interest: Evergreen State University, Cornish School of the Arts, Digipen Institute of Technology

Gap year: 826 Seattle Internships, City Year Seattle

Northern California

Small: Mills College, University of the Pacific, University of San Francisco, Dominican University

Medium: Stanford University, Sonoma State University, Santa Clara University, UC Santa Cruz

Large: UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Sacramento State

Special interest: California College of the Arts

Gap year: 826 Valencia Internships, City Year San José

Southern California

Small: Occidental College, Whittier College, Claremont Colleges, University of Redlands

Medium: University of Southern California, University of San Diego

Large: UCLA, San Diego State University, Cal State Long Beach

Special interest: California Institute of Technology, California Institute of the Arts

Gap year: 826 Los Angeles Internships, City Year Los Angeles