Okay, I’ll get an official “pick that college” blog post going on this since you guys are leaving good and helpful comments.
We visited Westminster College and University of Utah yesterday in Salt Lake City, and Utah State in Logan a few days before that.
The plan is for our son to attend a school in a region with generally better snowpack than Colorado. When we respond with that as a “requirement” to college counselors and the like, most get a blank look in their eyes but some get it. Other part of plan is the option of a degree that supports his interest in designing gear and working with things mechanical.
Utah seems perfect in many ways: Much more reliable snowpack than Colorado; close enough for easy travel between hometown and school town; general friendliness to the idea of skiing. Colorado schools tout their ski opportunities as well, but options in the Denver/Boulder area include the nightmarish traffic created by people escaping the city for weekends, as well as your choice of which dangerous depth hoar snowpack you care to challenge that day.
Westminster is an interesting place, but it is a serous liberal arts school with not much in the way of majors that would apply to being in the outdoor gear industry as a nuts-and-bolts designer. (What’s it say about a school when their clock tower is 10 minutes fast?) Westminster is also suspect as a bastion of radical liberalism (as most such schools are). While we like the idea of some diversity and exploration of ideas, there are limits and our son is on board with that concept (though the casual atmosphere of a liberal arts school indeed has appeal to a 17-year-old who’s burned out on homework). Westminster is 30% LDS, but I’m not sure how that influences their ethos, as Mormons are like any other faith based group — some just use the name, others walk the walk. So who knows if that group tones down the anti anything western bias that so many colleges exhibit these days…
By the way, an outdoor related feather in Westminster’s cap (or beanie, as the case may be) is their Gore business school, which is endowed by, yep, the fortune made from Gortex. And it does look like a good business school. Perhaps that’s the major we’re looking for?
University of Utah is, simply, big. I’m certain it’s a good school where you can get a solid and well respected degree, but the boy isn’t sure he wants the “educity” experience.
Utah State up in Logan is definitely an option. Big concern is the reported intense air pollution they get for many days almost every winter. Anyone have experience with that? Survivable? The outdoor rec opportunities out of Logan are good, and it’s said you can get Wasatch style skiing without the race for first tracks. That’s “attractive,” to put it mildly.
So more ideas anyone? Other schools in Utah? Anyone got experience with Westminster? Do they pray to whales and stuff, or are they a bit more level headed than that?
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.