With about 14,000 undergrads, Western Washington University’s student body is nothing to sneeze at, but it has the feel of a much smaller school. Nearly three-quarters of the classes at Western have 30 or fewer students, and 99% are taught by faculty members (not TAs).
Western’s main campus in Bellingham is nestled between an arboretum and a bay. Outdoor activities abound, including six miles of hiking trails and a nearby mountain that has the longest skiing season in North America. Sustainability is woven into the fabric of student life: The school is working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, and, at last count, had 43 courses in its catalog with the word “sustainability” in the title.
Academically, Western is a well-known producer of Fulbright Scholars, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Scholars, and Peace Corps volunteers. It’s a diverse cohort, too; 32% of new first-year classmates are students of color. The Ethnic Student Center, home to 19 different equality-driven clubs, helps to make sure all of them feel safe and seen. With an estimated degree price of $109,699, it’s also one of the most affordable universities on our list.