UW-Bothell students have ideas for better branch

Kristina English spent a year at Western Washington University. She lived in a dorm on the Bellingham campus. She had lecture classes packed with hundreds of students.

“I already experienced that. I’d rather come here,” said the 20-year-old junior at the University of Washington’s Bothell campus.

It’s a 20-minute drive from her Lynnwood home to the UW branch campus. Convenience isn’t all she likes about UW-Bothell.

“In my biggest classes here, there are only 45 people. It’s more personal,” said English, who’s pursuing a career in social and human services.

Until Wednesday, I had never set foot on campus at UW- Bothell. What took me so long? A day before learning that consultants had picked Everett Station as the top site for a new UW North, I went to Bothell to hear students’ views of life at a UW satellite. Parking, by the way, was abundant and cost me $3.

First, a few tidbits: UW-Bothell has more than 1,600 students, about 1,400 of them full-time; 60 percent of them come from King County, and 25 percent from Snohomish County; students’ top five cities of residence are, in order, Seattle, Bothell, Kirkland, Bellevue and Everett.

Among students from Everett is Loc Le, 24, a Cascade High School graduate in his last year of business administration studies.

Before UW-Bothell, he attended the University of California, San Diego. There, Le said, he learned more from teaching assistants than from professors. “In those big lectures, I started just downloading the lecture notes from a Web site,” he said.

John Genis, 18, of Shoreline is part of UW-Bothell’s freshman class. Established in 1990 at a business park across I-405 from its current 128-acre home, UW-Bothell was first a two-year school for upper-division students. Last year, it began admitting freshmen. Academic choices include business, computing, nursing, education and interdisciplinary studies, with several master’s degree programs.

“I think I’m going to stay the full four grades — here I have a class with two teachers for 25 kids,” said Genis, who decided on UW-Bothell after not being admitted to the UW’s Seattle campus.

“I like it here, but I still want to transfer to Seattle,” said Joe Schmitz, 26, of Bothell. He earned his two-year degree from Edmonds Community College before coming to the branch campus, where he’s in an Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program.

One thing he’d like to see on the Bothell campus — UW North planners might take note of it — is a gym. Schmitz said students have access to the Intramural Activities Building on the Seattle campus, but hours are limited.

“A gym facility would be perfect. We could use the trails,” agreed Cara Hanrahan, a 20-year-old UW-Bothell junior from Maple Valley. There’s a coffee shop with breakfast and lunch items in the campus Commons, but Hanrahan hopes for a larger food court.

Tove Bracilano, 21, drives to the branch campus from Clearview, near Snohomish. Even if UW North had been available to her, she said she’s closer to Bothell. She attended Cascadia Community College, adjacent to UW-Bothell, and hoped to go on to UW in Seattle. “I applied, but didn’t make it. But I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” said Bracilano, who’s studying community psychology.

Scott Gochanour, 21, a finance and marketing student from Lake Forest Park, is pleased with the entrepreneurial approach he sees in UW-Bothell’s business department. He also appreciates the maturity of fellow students. “I didn’t have any desire to live in a dorm,” he said.

His wish list for any UW branch includes the possibility of taking some classes on the Seattle campus and an assurance that all credits would easily transfer.

Elizabeth Fischtziur, a UW-Bothell spokeswoman, said students need to work closely with advisers on credit transfer issues. As for a gym and food court, she said the school has a student lounge and is “actively investigating” other options.

Gochanour wasn’t the only student who shared a perception that the flagship Seattle campus looks down on its branches. Nonetheless, he said, “I’m happy here. I’m the third person in my family to go to the UW.”

Thursday’s UW North news was all about giving many more students that chance. It’s a huge prize, no matter which Snoho­mish County site wins it.

“I’m proud to be a Husky,” Schmitz said.

Columnist Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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