The pressure to apply for colleges all started my senior year of high school. Like many Asian-American kids grow­ing up in Washington state, I was forced by my family to apply to the University of Washington Seattle campus. How­ever, I didn’t get accepted.

Luckily as someone who has always been a bit skeptical, I applied to all three of the University of Washington cam­puses — ensuring I had a plan that was still good enough for my parents. Now, here I am, a senior at the UW Tacoma campus. After spending practically my entire undergrad program here at UWT— I’m glad to have gotten rejected by UW Seattle. Spending my undergrad here at UWT worked out for me way better than I’d expected, and here’s why:

THE DORM EXPERIENCE IS WAY BETTER

The one thing I love most about the Tacoma campus is the student housing. UWT students get the luxury of a full-sized apartment dorm with a fully equipped kitchen as well as a full bath­room, living room and bedroom. Al­though you have to share it with some­one — or three other people, depending on your choice of floor plan — it’s a lot better than sharing just a 130 square-foot room with no bathroom or kitchen. Did I mention we also get our own washer and dryer in each apartment?

By giving students the option to live in a shared apartment, they get a sense of what it’s like to be an adult. You learn all the responsibilities that come with adulthood such as doing the dishes, fix­ing dinner for yourself and keeping your apartment clean and tidy.

With the prior experience of living in an apartment rather than a regular one-room dorm, by the time I was ready to move out on my own, I had all the knowledge of living on my own and the responsibilities of renting my own apartment.

THERE’S NO STUDENT CAFETERIA, SO YOU’RE LEFT TO SHOP FOR GROCERIES AND COOK FOR YOURSELF

Personally, this is honestly not a downside since I prefer to prepare my own meals. With a fully equipped kitch­en, I learned how to make and try new food. The experience also encouraged me to shop for groceries that were much healthier than any school cafeteria could ever offer me. Unlike some people, my parents didn’t load money on my student card and call it good. Instead, I learned how to manage my money for groceries and toiletries every week by budgeting and couponing.

LIVING IN A SMALLER CITY GIVES YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE THE COMMUNITY

Not only is Tacoma a far less expen­sive city than Seattle to live in, but this small city also has a vibrant art scene that has become an attractive place for young creatives, entrepreneurs, writers, and artists to meet. The community here is extremely welcoming and supportive and many of these local businesses and organizations are heavily involved with UWT. They offer students internships, jobs and even supporting college stu­dents with the many grants and scholar­ships they have to offer. Since there are not many of us here at UWT, there’s hardly a competition and we are almost always guaranteed the scholarship.

I have interned for two different or­ganizations here in Tacoma, and my experience with both was amazing. Since Tacoma is a pretty tight-knit com­munity, my previous internship super­visor was able to help me out and refer to me local businesses that were hiring. Additionally, she was able to put in a good word for me because she knew the manager. Networking in a smaller city such as Tacoma is more doable than Seattle. Start small and grow your net­work accordingly — it’s possible.

SMALLER CLASS SIZES

Studies have shown student achieve­ment is higher when there is a low stu­dent to teacher ratio. Small class sizes ensure students get the attention they need and have the opportunity to build up their confidence to share their opin­ions and ask more questions. While universities such as UW Seattle, Wash­ington State University and Central Washington University can carry up to 200 students per class, most UWT classes are no more than 40 students.

Smaller class sizes also allow for a more productive classroom — both for professors and students. For professors, a smaller group of students means less names to remember, less assignments to grade and less time to answer ques­tions. For students, it is much easier to feel confident and comfortable while speaking to a room of 20 people, rather than a hundred students.

PHOTO BY SARAH SMITH
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