by Sonia Ruiz, Class of 2001
Heading into my freshman year at Seattle University, I was worried. Was attending a private Catholic university one step away from joining a convent, or even a cult? Would all the other students be WWJD?-bracelet-wearing, straight-edge freaks? Well, after spending four years at SU, I can tell you that the Jesus Freak population is limited to choir members, and that rather than being a convent or cult, Seattle U is more like a country club, where what really matters is not what you know but whom you've slept with.
The most important first step when attending Seattle University is to establish a good relationship with your Residence Hall Advisor, or "RA." If you befriend your RA from day one, they will be less likely to bust you for the contraband in your room and more likely to invite you to the off-campus keggers.
Unfortunately, there really is no safe place on campus to get high or drunk without getting caught. Luckily, that doesn't matter. If you do get caught, the worst that will happen is that you'll be placed on school "probation." In Seattle University-speak, "probation" means that you should live in constant fear of getting caught again. Don't.
I've never heard of anyone being turned over to the police or having their parents called because they were caught with a three-foot bong or enough sheets of acid to fill a loose-leaf notebook. The reason? Well, it looks really bad for Seattle University recruiters to have to admit they have stoners attending their school. In fact, some Seattle University records will show that no one on campus has ever been caught engaging in any illegal activity. It just doesn't send a good message.
While Seattle University is a Jesuit university, I believe it is completely possible to spend four years there without having to take one class taught by a Jesuit. This can make your life much easier, as many of the Jesuit teachers have a time-warped sense of discipline that would involve paddling truant students if they had their way. While some older students would disagree with this assessment, you should know that these students used to attend Catholic high schools, and probably either have an Elektra complex or are gay.
The last of my advice may be the most useful. There is no reason why you should ever receive a grade lower than a B-minus at Seattle University. You have to understand that your professors are under extreme pressure to pass their students and keep the school's academic average high. If you ever get a grade lower than a B-minus, make an appointment to see your professor. Bitch and whine for about 20 minutes, and your grade will be changed. I guarantee it. If your professor doesn't change your grade, then he or she is either a Jesuit or new to the school, and will probably be fired in a year anyway.
The University of Washington
by Ellen Elkins, Class of 1999
Having come from a Michigan high school of 200 students, I decided I wanted to go to college at someplace HUGE, out of the Midwest if possible, where I could be blissfully anonymous. The University of Washington was the first school to get back to me, so I figured, "Why not?"
As any alumnus of a large state university can attest, the primary challenge of your freshman year of college is living in a room with someone else. This scenario is unarguably uncool. My first roommate smoked Harley-Davidson cigarettes, listened to Denis Leary albums, and cussed like a sailor. Her 16-year-old schmuck boyfriend slept over all the time. Virginal though I was, I knew enough to understand what was going on in the way-too-small-for-two-people cot four feet away from me.
Sex in a shared dorm room = not so nice for your roommate. I tried everything--coughing, floundering in my bed, eventually downing handfuls of sleeping pills--to render myself comatose and miss the oh-so-romantic "Here comes big Dan!" echoing off the walls. And what could be more erotic than making sweet, sweet love while a gaggle of tanked jocks chant "Drink, motherfucker! Drink, motherfucker! Drink!" in the hallway?
My first six months at UW were pretty nightmarish, but I still advise sticking it out. The best thing I ever did was to come back for my sophomore year. I started taking classes that were absolutely phenomenal, like Physics 110 for liberal arts majors, Modern European History 275, the Shakespeare series, Romantic Poetry with Modiano, and Chaucer with Mussetter. Unfortunately, taking fascinating classes means coming in contact with the ever-present classroom blowhards. These are the students who have an opinion on anything, everything, and whatever's left. Sometimes insightful, sometimes talking to hear themselves talk, these creeps are a fact of life at any university, and UW is no different.
Good accessories to have the first couple years are a friend with an older sibling who will buy you beer from time to time (thanks, Tad!), flip-flops, and a sense of humor. When there comes a time to look for a watering hole, I suggest the College Inn (I loved just reclining in their booths and sipping Mac 'n' Jacks with my frat-boy boyfriend), Big Time (in the back), and Flowers. Tell them Ellen sent you, and they'll have absolutely no idea who you're talking about.
Art Institute of Seattle
by Jessica Woodbridge, Class of 1999
Being an art student is like being a porno actor: It's boring, it's messy, and all the opportunities are in Los Angeles.
The archetype of the art student is inescapable, but from what I've seen, it's mostly justified. During my first quarter at the Art Institute of Seattle, I was shocked at how many of these kids shared the same story. They came from quiet Protestant burgs in Montana or Eastern Washington, they had minor creative talent, and they fancied themselves artists. When too many evenings spent hanging out in the local Wal-Mart parking lot yielded insufficient grades for the nearest state college, the budding young artist, whose local fame had been earned through painstaking drawings of disproportionate bimbos and/or battling robots, applied to Seattle's Art Institute. For these kids, the AIS is a ticket out of their Podunk hometowns and a chance to delay the real world for two more years.
Sadly, the Art Institute is the McDonald's of art schools. The initial interview goes like this:
"Can you pay?"
"Congratulations and welcome."
Because the enrollment process is rather lenient, those with a true love for art will have a tough time. Be aware that AIS is not a place to study the great masters and create works that will one day hang in galleries. You are at AIS to feed the machine. Save your veneration of fine art for the weekend, because this is art at its most marketable. Graphic design students will spend most of their time crafting corporate logos and doing pro bono work for ungrateful clients. Fashion students are expected to produce attractive but conventional garb; there will be no Versaces emerging from the hallowed halls of AIS. Animation students may arrive at AIS with their own individual styles, but will have to mind that they don't end up adapting to whatever is trendy and easy to imitate.
Which brings me to anime.
Sure, new AIS students can reject anime as lacking in artistic merit. Or they can have social lives. Anime is universally revered at AIS. The most popular students are those with the largest, most obscure imported video collections. But those who are thinking of becoming aficionados of this phenomenon should be warned: Anime is an expensive habit, and many of the videos you loan probably won't get returned.
New students should not expect AIS to be a typical college. There are no hangouts, there's no "campus culture," and the student housing is a rip-off. If you've already committed yourself to student housing, you have my condolences. The two AIS apartment buildings are shoddy, free of amenities, and exorbitantly priced. It's much better, and cheaper, to find independent housing (not an easy task, but worth the search). Elliott Bay Plaza, located conveniently across the street, is home to many AIS students, while others take the plunge headlong into college-era hell and share a house on Capitol Hill with 17 other people. More power to you if you can stand it.
Your hard-earned dollars are greatly appreciated at AIS. Thank you; drive through.
Seattle Pacific University
by Heather Eggen, Class of 2001
Before I can offer any advice, I must know whether you like The Stranger. After scanning the sex column and the personal ads, and noting the open acceptance of homosexuality, do you find yourself flushing with embarrassment and burning with the desire to save these lost souls? If so, welcome home. Seattle Pacific University was made for you.
However, if you do like this paper, you're in for a trip. You, the non-Evangelical minority student, have entered an enforced community of extreme Christians, and to you I offer some advice.
If your visions of college life come from the movies, prepare to be disappointed. SPU is not Road Trip, and there is no Greek system. The co-ed dorms are divided by wing or floor, and "floor hours" prohibit people of the opposite sex from being on the same dorm floor between 11 p.m. and noon. Even the more liberal students frown upon casual sex, and casual dating is impossible. After the first date, you are together; by rendezvous number two, engagement rumors start to fly. To further complicate matters, the ratio of female to male students is... unbalanced, about two to one.
Lastly, although SPU is not completely alcohol-free, the school does enforce its dry campus policy. Drink (and smoke) discreetly, and don't buy your contraband at the same store where your Peer Advisor buys his root beer.
Tips for fitting in:
People carry their Bibles around with them. Carrying your own might be good camouflage. Also, try to memorize a few obscure Bible passages. (Be sure you remember the book, chapter, and verse.)
Sharing your testimony will help you make friends, especially if you're really emotional. Many public venues will be provided for this. Expect to hear public displays of devotion from people you have never met before, and don't be surprised by people who are concerned with your faith walk with Jesus. This is called witnessing, and is usually both emotional (for them) and painful (for you). Jesus is considered a close personal Friend by many of your fellow students, and some of the girls even mistake Him for their boyfriend.
Finally, to make some broad generalizations, SPU students are homophobic, Republican, and have little concern for social justice or the environment. Openly sharing more liberal views is bound to get messy.
Don't fear, however, for you are not alone (and I am not trying to convince you that a friendly deity will be at your side in a touching, "Footprints" sort of way). There are wonderfully open-minded people and pockets of honest, unforced spirituality hidden behind all the Jesus jargon. Many of the professors--who may be the most tolerant group on campus--are very supportive of students who feel out of place. Rather than defining yourself only by the people and attitudes you reject, seek out the good that is present. There is a flourishing subculture at SPU, but you might have to work hard to find it.
Seattle Central Community College
by Kudzai Mudede, Class of 2001
Seattle Central Community College is a blue-collar learning establishment: We work hard, we drink hard. (I've never agreed that drinking is an affliction of the working classes, so much as work is an affliction of the drinking classes.) And after drinking, we stumble home.
SCCC is an ugly school, but is not without its visual charms. Located right in front of the Broadway Performance Hall, behind the school's back door, is the daycare-toddlers' playpen. If the sight of the most adorable little children caged up like dangerous felons doesn't melt your heart, you must be dead. (For maximum enjoyment, get stoned. You'll be able watch the little bastards all day--fucking brilliant.)
Across the road you'll find the school gym, which for years has maintained a steady flow of beautiful foreign women at its registration desk. I love foreign women, you know. I love how they can butcher even the most impossibly rudimentary aspects of the English language, without a hint of the ignorance that exudes from American girls who do the same. I love how they get away with wearing hideous 1989 Perry Ellis jeans that have since been banned in most urban centers. Most of all, I love how they don't understand most of the self-absorbed rhubarb I'm compelled to prattle on about. (As for men in the gym: The men's shower room is plastered with notices discouraging lewd and unsightly behavior. I can only assume SCCC has assessed that the shower room is a phenomenally conducive environment for such practices, which makes it my number-one recommended spot to get your salad tossed this year.)
If you're just starting out at SCCC, I suggest you take astronomy. It's dead easy. If you can't even be bothered to make a few random classroom cameos, fear not. All you have to do is show up to the first class on test day, take a copy of the test, write down all the questions, then beat it. Crack open that astronomy book you've been using to keep that sewer rat from climbing up and out the toilet bowl, and find your answers. Pop down to Reservoir Park for a pint or two, then get back to the final test class ripped to the tits; ace the test, and there you are. Nice one.
As a final note: Don't show up to school on the first day. The halls will be packed far beyond the limits of comfort by a rude rabble who, within the next seven days, will cash in their financial aid for dental work and never walk the halls of academia again.
by Dr. Brad Lichtenstein, Class of 1995
So you've decided to pursue a career in the natural health sciences. Good for you. As you begin your illustrious career helping people live healthier and fuller lives, I offer a few words of advice.
First of all, come out of the closet--the addiction closet! Be proud, stay strong, and admit your proclivities. If you think coffee is the root of all happiness, or at least the only way to open your eyes in the morning, don't hide it. Swig it with pride! Walk into class holding that double-tall mocha with your head held high. Don't worry that by the time your formal education is finished, you will hear yourself tell hundreds of patients how they should avoid caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat, corn, peanuts, and chocolate. They're the sick ones, not you. As our parents so wisely admonished, "Do as I say, not as I do."
My second point is a preparatory comment for the women: Men are scarce at Bastyr, so prepare yourself. By the time women graduate, they have either had their first lesbian affair or are pregnant. Please plan accordingly.
And finally, although I am not teaching as much as before, I would recommend all students take any class that I am teaching. Not because I am a particularly great teacher, which of course I am, but because I have the free press to say so.
Good luck, and may the vis medicatrix naturæ be with you.
Cornish College of the Arts
by Freddie Motlich, Class of 2001
Bravo! You've decided to fly in the face of all better judgment and go to art school--a decision that will have you laughing all the way to the bank (or at least to the curb outside the Broadway Bank of America, in which case I hope your major is "tacky folk rock played on a crappy guitar").
Your choice to attend art school tells much about you. It says that you are a dedicated artist, willing to lose sleep and friends in pursuit of perfection. It tells the world that you care not for monetary gain, but will struggle fruitlessly to give voice to your soul through art. And it tells us that, most likely, you can't do math for shit.
At Cornish, you'll find all the typical art school quirks: the Smiths devotees, the "Liberated Womyn" performance pieces, the suicide attempts. Happily, Cornish students aren't so tied to art's "cool kids club" that they won't call Keith Haring an overrated cartoonist or walk out at intermission during a lavishly produced artsy-fartsy version of, say, Cymbeline.
By following these simple Do's and Don'ts, any student can make his or her four years at Cornish something to remember with a minimum of embarrassment.
Do get drunk before attending shows. This will greatly increase your chances of enjoying and supporting your fellow students' work. (Best place for pre-show happy hour: The unisex bathroom in the theater wing of the north campus.)
Don't get drunk before attending class. The classes are too small, and everyone will smell it. (One exception: Theater students performing scenes that require them to cry. These folks should feel free to have a couple glasses of wine before class and envision their lives of poverty after graduation. Tears should come easily enough.)
Do make out with everybody. It's a great icebreaker, and gives you plenty of valuable make-out practice. Also: Don't be skittish about Frenching someone who wears the same kind of underwear you do, if you know what I mean. You're in art school--no one's gonna think you're a big homo (unless, of course, you are a big homo).
Don't date anyone. The Cornish schedule is intense, and devoted students will have no time to dote on a Steady Sweaty, in any form. Even two people who should be fantastic together can't survive the inhuman mental burden and grinding time commitments. So spare yourself the headache and heartache, and get used to masturbating.
Do take humanities classes. The main rule: Show up. If you can't wake up for an 8 a.m. class, sign up for a 5:30 p.m. class. If you can't wake up for a 5:30 class, see a doctor. As for specific classes: If you have to kill someone to get into one of Kim MacKay-Brooks' English classes, do it. His classes are like Dead Poets Society, Stand and Deliver, and Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever (starring Corey Feldman) all rolled into one.
Don't bring acoustic guitars to parties. An invaluable rule of thumb. If you ever feel the urge to spice up a party by bringing out an instrument that is in any way "earthy" or "wooden," take a deep breath, do a shot, and repeat to yourself, "Digiri-DON'T."