Living Green Olympia: Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA - Innovative, Challenging... & Home of the Geoducks

Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA - Innovative, Challenging... & Home of the Geoducks


Evergreen State College

The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA was opened in 1971 as a state college with a very different twist on higher education.  The college offers interdisciplinary programs rather than the ordinary English 101, History 101 etc.  The programs are taught by a team of faculty, and typically feature LOTS of reading, seminars where students and faculty discuss their understanding of these readings, and plenty of writing too.  Being able to analyze the material, challenge your assumptions, & work collaboratively on group projects will be necessary in any of the programs.  Students do not receive grades, but do write a self evaluation, an evaluation of faculty, and faculty in turn write evaluations of the student's accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses.  But if you believe the lack of grades means this will be a walk in the park - well, no - Evergreen State College had the most challenging courses I have ever taken, and I was constantly pushed to think more deeply & write more clearly.

Evergreen State College Library Clock Tower

Evergreen State Collegehas an absolutely beautiful wooded campus of some 1000 acres on the west side of Olympia.  There are many trails, including one leading to the saltwater beach - what an ideal spot for field research and science labs! Within the acreage is the Organic Farm, which is both a real life learning lab and the setting for many a good potluck.  And speaking of potlucks: they are an Evergreen tradition!  Often held at the home of one of the faculty, they let students and faculty get acquainted outside of class - though the conversation often strays to ideas raised in the most recent seminars or projects.


Evergreen State College campus map

Environmental sustainability and social justice are values stressed by Evergreen State College, and students find many opportunities for volunteering in the community or interning.  It is very much a hands on learning environment - in fact students may design an individual or group contract with professors to create their own custom program!

 The last count showed an enrollment of approximately 4900 students, all in pursuit of bachelor of arts or science or a dual degree in both.  Masters programs are also available in environmental studies, public administration or teaching.  Graduates of Evergreen State College continue to make their mark as entrepreneurs in Olympia and beyond, as well as in many roles within state and local government or area nonprofits.   The emphasis on problem solving, critical thinking, effective collaboration, and clear communicating send Evergreen graduates off into this fast-changing, multifaceted world prepared to thrive!

Oh...& if you were wondering about the "home of the geoducks" in the title - well I mentioned that Evergreen State College is a little non-traditional, so the athletes in the college's sports programs are known as Geoducks.  The rest of us just tend to call ourselves Greeners (with pride!) 


Evergreen State College



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Nancy Conner, City Realty Inc,    360-701-1086      

Comment balloon 3 commentsNancy Conner • September 09 2010 10:23PM


Nancy ~  This is an amazing way to teach at the college level.  I can see how it would be very challenging. 

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 10 years ago

Thank you, Nancy! I've forwarded this to Rachael, my husband, my running friend who's daughter went to Evergreen, etc. I really hope we come to visit!

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) almost 10 years ago

Hi Joan - it's challenging, but I absolutely loved it!!  When I went back to finish my BA - & then loved it so much I stayed to get a master's degree - my son was 10 and I was working half time.  I have LOTS of memories of literally falling asleep with my head in the book I was reading for the next day's seminar!!  LOL ! But the excitement of so many new ideas swirling around my head made it all worthwhile.

You're welcome Lottie!!!!  And thanks for forwarding it on.  I hope, too, that you do come to visit!  Just writing about the college reignited so many good memories of my time there - I'd love to show your family around the school & town.  And I appreciate you suggesting I write this blog! 

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA almost 10 years ago