College Visit Guide: Seattle

Get familiar with colleges and activities in favorite Seattle neighborhoods.

Seattle is a place where hipsters peacefully coexist with naturalists and corporate mongers. It’s a city of activism and a headquarters for physical, intellectual, and creative activity. If Seattle is your next stop on the college touring circuit, it will most likely also be your last. Natives will readily wager rain gear in bets that all who visit are bound to leave, reticently.

There is a multitude of colleges and universities within the city radius: University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Cornish College of the Arts, Gage Academy of Art, as well as a plethora of local community colleges and public tutorials (classes and workshops run by non-profits). The close proximity of colleges makes the city seem like a broad prayer mat spread out to worship academia. When visiting Seattle, it helps to have an idea of which colleges’ programs appropriately fit individual interests.

There is a strong neighborhood context in Seattle. Having a goal to visit specific universities will provide insight into which neighborhoods are most accessible to certain schools. This guide outlines hypothetical itineraries in accord with the potential interests of prospective students within specific university settings and ‘hoods.

Capitol Hill: the Art Student

For the aspiring student artist, explore the Capitol Hill area. Capitol Hill, once home to Pearl Jam and other grunge rockers, boasts Seattle University, the Gage Academy of Art and Cornish College of the Arts. Exploring the Hill on foot is demanding, since it’s quite hilly, and this provides the perfect excuse for a good healthy jolt of morning caffeine. If you think that Starbucks represents Seattle coffee, then let the organic espresso and meticulous latte art at Espresso Vivace on East Denny Way demonstrate otherwise.

A short walk south of the Hill off Broadway Street, you’ll find Seattle University. The campus is a green enclave that climbs south towards First Hill and descends east towards 12th Street. Opposite SU, the Gage Academy of Art is on the north side of the Hill where Broadway crosses 10th Street. The historic Gage Academy building, formerly the Seattle Academy of Fine Art, has one of the most spectacular views of the city—a spread including Lake Union, Queen Anne Hill, the downtown skyline and the Olympic Mountain range.

If your journeys north and south haven’t totally fatigued you, stroll down to Cornish College of the Arts. The Cornish campus is on the invisible border of lower west Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle. Perfectly located, Cornish is luckily just a leap from many artistic ventures. Music fans will delight in the Experience Music Project, just a 10-minute walk from campus, where Jimi Hendrix’s juvenile scribblings are perched near Woodstock footage and other biographical memorabilia.

Another artistic wonder, the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library, is a sculptural masterpiece that would be a shame to miss. A contemporary, asymmetrical, glass pyramid of sorts, even the inside of the library holds surprises—chartreuse escalators awaken the senses and heighten the enjoyment of even the most mundane cerebral undertakings.

In addition to music and books, academics of all ages can enjoy an afternoon visual binge at the Seattle Art Museum where the newly-remodeled space is currently housing Roman art on lease from the Louvre, with amazing permanent and rotating galleries. Every Thursday or Friday evening at the SAM, enjoy a free after-hours event for all ages with free DJ spins and other live performances.

Dining in Capitol Hill/Downtown:

U-District: the Student Athlete

The University of Washington (UW), located in the Montlake and University area, offers something for everyone. The school hugs Lake Washington and peers out towards the North Cascade range. The Montlake Cut, the link between Lake Washington and Puget Sound (Portage Bay), is famous, while “The Ave.” is an infamous party zone. Student athletes and outdoor enthusiasts can take pleasure in the trails that reach over the Cut and converge at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Spring and summer is a great time to hop down to the boathouse, rent a canoe and spend the day floating through the lily pads near Foster Island. The Waterfront Activities Center at UW rents canoes, starting at $4.00 per hour.

When visiting UW, don’t miss the gothic-looking campus library, the new recreation facilities near Husky Stadium, and the well-known Burke-Gilman trail, a 27-mile biking and walking path utilized by many students who choose alternative forms of transportation. One thing is for sure, it does everyone a favor to own a bike and a good pair of walking shoes in this city.

Dining in the U-District:

Queen Anne Hill: Traditionalists

Seattle Pacific University sits at the base of Queen Anne Hill. The campus is extraordinary with sprawling lawns and tree canopies. The college seeks to align the interests of students within the context of the Free Methodist Church and so, university students have an opportunity to explore personal faith in the realm of academia. SPU offers several different degree choices and is definitely a place to check out both because of its academic credibility as well as its geographical location. Spend the day prancing around the river trail across the street from the school and then cool off in the shade of a large maple on campus.

Dining in Queen Anne Hill:

Where to Stay

Seattle has several terrific hotels. Here are three that are family friendly:

Fairmont Olympic Hotel
411 University Street, tel. 206-621-1700.

Sheraton Seattle Hotel

1400 Sixth Avenue, tel. 206-621-9000.

Inn at the Market

86 Pine Street, tel. 206-443-3600.

Destinations: Seattle

Themes: College Visits

Activities: Hiking, Arts and Entertainment, Eat, Museums, Boating