Reviewing Gonzaga University 2015
Who Am I?
I am a recent graduate of Gonzaga University and a current student at the University of Washington Medical School. During my four years at Gonzaga, I took the opportunity to branch out and try a wide range of things from debate to intramural rugby and exploring Spokane and the surrounding area! Overall, I had an absolutely fantastic time, and my university years held up to my expectation of being some of my best years to date.
Anyways, I was able to see a several significant aspects of the University that a lot of people don't. I would like to share those with you. After all, not everything about Gonzaga is perfect. Even though I couldn't imagine choosing another school myself, there are a few things they don't advertise.
First and foremost, one of the most important reasons that students choose to enroll themselves at Gonzaga is because it has a discernible reputation for being moderately prestigious. By that, I mean that saying you go to Gonzaga comes with a little extra pride.
Admittedly, this may be due to the name recognition the school gets from its consistently impressive basketball team. But I'll get to that more in a moment.
Gonzaga University offers a wide range of choices for majors, however I'm not going to lie-- they don't really offer anything a standard state school wouldn't. They still have fantastic professors and staff though. A lot of which are jesuits who are catholic elites dedicated to academic knowledge and education (I'd recommend you do your own google search to find out more about them). This certainly insures that the most of the individuals teaching you truly know what they are talking about. Most of the Jesuits have so many years of teaching experience that they have mastered the art of information delivery on top of their field of interest. I cannot stress how helpful this is, especially since most dorms have a jesuits living within them to provide guidance if it is needed.
That being said, the classes are still quite difficult for those who are following any sort of STEM pathway. You can certainly expect to be challenged, and you will watch some jocks drop like flies after the first year. Be very weary of some of Gonzaga's freshman year weed-out classes such as physics or organic chemistry.
Personally, I feel as though I can most adequately discuss the science department, as that is where I spent a good deal of my time. I cannot stress how much respect and admiration I felt for the professors and their accommodating staff. Not only do the professors obviously work unbelievable hours for the success of their students, but they actively strive to include you within the scientific community and get to know you on a personal level. Many of the professors contribute to world-class research each and every year, and by the end of your career at Gonzaga, most of them will not only know you by name, but have an interest in your future pursuits. The networking I received as a result was worth its weight in gold.
That being said, I have heard primarily good things about other departments. The business school almost promotes laziness if you're into that sort of thing (they don't even have classes on Monday usually), the math and physics department mimics the science department, and everyone else in between from religious studies to english majors find themselves rather happy. I won't hide that I've heard some scathing reviews of several professors and their impractical grading methods, but that can be avoided with a little due diligence via ratemyprofessors.com.
Gonzaga is a rather small school with approximately 6000 undergraduate students relative to other larger state schools that can have upwards of 30,000. Therefore it's entirely probable and almost guaranteed that you'll see many of the same faces over and over again. However, it is still large enough that, if you want, you can also make new friends every single day. It's just a matter of putting yourself out there!
From my experience, everyone was super friendly and very supportive of each other. There are a number of large-scale community events that happen on almost a weekly basis, and the campus is small enough that going to classes leaves you almost nowhere to hide. If you are a hermit that doesn't want to emerge from your shell every once in awhile, this may not be the school for you.
The Party Atmosphere
Gonzaga is a huge drinking school. There's no way around it. Although you can find shenanigans occurring on almost every day of the week at various residential locations, most of Gonzaga's party scene's explode on the weekend. This is for obvious reasons. In the dorms, which freshmen and sophomores are required to live in, resident assistants come by regularly and can enter a room at any time. Therefore most of the lower class students choose to venture out into the surrounding student-filled residential area. It's actually rather funny; on a Friday evening, one can watch hundreds if not thousands of student swarm across one of the main roads running along the perimeter of the school's grounds to reach their final I'm-going-to-get-smashed destination.
But let me be very clear about this. You do not have to drink to make a lot of friends and have a lot of fun on the weekends. Quite frankly, Gonzaga has a significant population of the more preppy-styled kids. For every student out trying to get hammered, there's probably another sitting at home or in a dorm common room inviting people to go play a sport, watch a movie, or go exploring. Anyone can find their niche here.
Gonzaga's most popular sport is basketball. Anyone who has ever watched college basketball will know that year after year, Gonzaga does surprisingly well in the NCAA tournament. And it bring in so much money for the university that the administration absolutely inflates the events as much as possible with all the hoo-rah let's-win-this attitude. It's an impressive spectacle when the professional-sized court is packed with red-shirted students. And it's even more impressive when almost every single one of them camped outside in a tent for the days foreshadowing the event in hopes of acquiring the best seats in the house. Talk about school pride. Although I have never participated in what they termed 'tent city', which has made it onto nation television numerous times, I know way too many people who have braved snow and other rather harsh conditions just to have a decent spot come game day. Anyways, I think you get the point.
Gonzaga also has a good deal of other sports available for incoming students that range from rowing to baseball, to track, and even rock climbing! Gonzaga does not, however, have a football team. Be forewarned, this isn't going to change any time soon. Although every sport you could ever imagine can be found in the intramural leagues. I highly suggest giving a few of these a chance as they are a great way to make new like-minded friends.
There is a large recreational field available to all students at almost any time during the day and till late in the evening. There is also a full gym equipped with a swimming pool, and several soccer fields for those who want to go kick around. And if you can't find something on Gonzaga's campus, then you can probably find it nearby elsewhere in Spokane.
Gonzaga is geographically located in one of what I would consider the best places in the entire country. The only downside being that there is no beach. You still have all four seasons, however. In the summer, you have plenty of warmth and clear skies, plenty of color changing in the fall, snow in the winter, and rain in the spring. Make sure to bring warm clothes!
There are a ton a prime hiking and camping destinations in almost every direction, and it isn't unheard of for students to go spend an extended weekend in Glacier national park, just two hours to the East.
Additionally, Seattle is another popular destination for students who are looking for a fun get away. The city is three to four hours driving (depends on who's behind the wheel), and it offers every form of amusement a thriving multi-cultural city could! There will always be plenty of people traveling back and forth, so grabbing a ride can usually be cheap and sociable.
Spokane itself has some mentionable features. One of the first things you'll probably notice is the Spokane River that runs right along the south side of campus. If you follow this for a 15 minute sight-seeing adventure towards downtown, you'll eventually come across the falls. I suggest you do a google search and look at some of the different pictures and viewpoints. It's actually a rather popular tourist attraction.
Then, to the south is what is referred to as the, well, South Hill. It's a fairly steep rise visible from many points in the city wherein you can see some of the more prominent buildings in Spokane, including the hospitals, old churches, and old industrial complexes that actually add quite a bit of character to the city. People sometimes refer to Spokane as 'Spokompton' due to several admittedly sketchy parts of the city (don't go out alone at night), but it truly is a remarkably beautiful area with some of the best discoverable nooks and crannies out there.
Other Pro's and Con's
- There is a great study abroad program
- All classes will be ten minutes away or less walking
- You can personally converse with professors, as class sizes are kept at a minimum.
- Dorms are usually well equipped
- Gonzaga puts a lot of effort into keeping the campus safe and welcoming
- Although the school is catholic and you are required to take 3 semesters of religious studies, you will never feel like you're being indoctrinated. Religion classes are taught primarily through historical context.
- There are still many religion-affiliated activities for those who want to express their faith
- There are no "big frats". There is now a frat on campus I believe, but it's struggling. This may be a con for those of you who want the whole hazing-and-drug-use experience.
- Marijuana is legal for use off campus (take this as you will)
- The school is quite expensive and can cost well over $30,000 each year for those who can't get scholarships. (Many students do, however)
- Spokane has a significantly elevated crime rate.
- Walks to class in the winter are cold and slippery (however watching a group of girls simultaneously land on their rear ends makes it all worth it)
- The majority of students from outside of Washington will be from California. You may not care...until they start saying hella and frequently declare that they are from the bay area.
- It's easy to be written up if you're drinking in the dorms. Just don't.
- Classes can be be unnecessarily demanding at times.
- All classes are required to follow an active attendance policy.
Thanks for reading! I hope you have found a new tidbit of information that you haven't yet read elsewhere about attending Gonzaga. If you still have any other questions of comments, feel free to leave a comment below!