Wash U today: by the books

Sarah Baicker
Margaret Bauer

It would be pointless to write about what it’s like on this campus now-after all, we’re all here. We know about the new Bear’s Den, weekends on the Loop and life in St. Louis. What else is there to life at Wash U than what we students already know?

In fact, there’s a plethora of information about life on the Wash U campus, and it can’t be found on the South 40 or in Brookings. Where can you find this information? College guides, those weighty, dictionary-sized books we lugged around junior year in high school, the ones from which we memorized statistics and descriptions, choosing without really knowing what would be our “perfect school.”

From the Princeton Review to US News and World Report, you’d be hard pressed to find a college guidebook that doesn’t have something to share about our beloved institution.

So, what are they saying about us?

The general consensus is that we like our alcohol. As The Yale Daily News’ Insider’s Guide to the Colleges reports, Wash U is “the quintessential work hard, play hard environment.”

A student interviewed by the Princeton Review described us as “the dorkiest students in the world getting [drunk] all the time.”

The Insider’s Guide also says Frat Row is the place to be on weekends-for everyone. The guide describes Greek parties as primarily “hook-up events,” but does report that there are a number of “committed couples” found on campus, even in the fraternities.

According to both guidebooks, when Wash U students aren’t partying it up Greek-style, we’re exploring the lovely city of St. Louis and all it has to offer. Students “find St. Louis incredibly accessible and appealing,” says the Insider’s Guide.

We are also over-involved in extracurricular activities-intramural sports, Campus Y, a capella, improv groups and the Congress of the South 40 are among the favorites, says the Insider’s Guide.

As far as the student body itself, The Fiske Guide to the Colleges says we’re “more laid back than those at comparable schools,” albeit “relatively homogenous” racially.

Wash U’s student population is made up of “NRA members from the Midwest and rich Jewish girls from Long Island and gay male activists,” reports a student interviewed by the Princeton Review. According to the guidebook, interracial and homosexual couples are hardly ever seen, but no one objects to the idea of their existence “in principle.”

In 2004, only 10% of the student body came from Missouri, and 50% hailed from over 500 miles away-quite different than the Wash U of the 50s and 60s. Our relatively new national pull, reports all the books, is helping the school live up to its reputation as the best private university between Chicago and L.A.

Each guidebook also had a lot to say our academic environment. As much as we like to party, prospective students are also being told we like to work.

“Wash U is a lively, stimulating place that combines Midwestern values and intellectual curiosity,” The Insider’s Guide reports. “Students often recall giving standing ovations to their ‘phenomenal professors’ for lectures.”

Sixty percent of us earn a major and minor, two majors or are dual degree students, something that is not common at other universities. The consensus among all the guidebooks is that Wash U is a fantastic place to learn, and that students are quick to take the opportunity as far as they can.

Life on the South 40, The Fiske Guide says, is like living in a hotel. The Princeton Review agreed, reporting that staying on campus is a popular option. Maid service and private bathrooms make the decision to move out on one’s own tough.

As for food, the reviews were varied. The Princeton Review said dining at Bear’s Den and Center Court is “repetitive and pricey,” but a student interviewed by The Fiske Guide claimed “the food is better than home!” The jury’s still out. But, remember, you’re a Wash U student. Make the decision for yourself.

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