Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR)

Outside the Bay Area

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

April 2015

We would love to know other's experiences at Lewis and Clark. Our son is thinking of going there and we are wondering what the pros and cons have been for others attending there.

My child graduated from Lewis & Clark 4 years ago and I can't say enough about the time she had there. Wonderful teacher/student ratio and great education. She had a fantastic experience. Their study abroad program is incredible, she went to E. Africa for a semester. They also have opportunities to do something meaningful through alternative spring break experiences. great experience

While Lewis & Clark might be a happy place for some students, it was not so for our daughter, who transferred out after two years. It's a beautiful campus, and Portland is a fun town, and there are some good teachers and nice kids who go there. However, you are paying top dollar while your student is crammed into tiny dorm rooms, may not get high quality advising, and not all teachers are great. There's also a lot of partying, a lot of white, privileged kids, and it may feel like a bubble to a Bay Area kid.

When you look at colleges, remember to check out their freshman retention rate - my daughter was not alone in leaving - 12% of Lewis & Clark students do not return the next year! That's compared to just 4% of kids who leave after a year at UC Berkeley or 5% of kids who leave after a year at Whitman (two schools she also considered). Furthermore, the 6 year graduation rate, another indicator, is just 76% for Lewis and Clark - so even more kids are dropping out over time, compared to 90% grads for UCB and 88% for Whitman. Think twice, unless your student is completely in love with Lewis and Clark. (FYI, University of Puget Sound has similar stats - another ''safety school'' which over-admits and under-supports its students).

Our daughter transferred to a state school where she's getting a better education, more personal attention, believe it or not, with a more diverse group of peers and hugely reduced tuition.

High Tuition doesn't always equal High Quality.

No school is going to be perfect for all.

My freshman daughter attends Lewis and Clark and could not be happier. She acknowledges the lack of diversity and money-ed student body, but she has found people and activities that she really enjoys. Granted, she was fully ready for college, is a self-directed and focused person, and already has an idea of her academic priorities. She loves her professors, who have excellent credentials and experience, meets with them regarding her big papers and has received excellent advice on classes and possible majors. She's never been afraid to advocate for herself, so this might be why?

I think the partying scene is much less than at the big schools my nephews attended, whatever that means, but I believe this is the norm for small private liberal arts colleges these days. My daughter says she retreats to the study rooms in the library for work and spends her social time in her dorm and off campus. Her dorm room is very small and cinderblock, but she likes her roommate and the kids on her floor, and says that next year she expects to get a better room in a different dorm. No doubt it's lucky she is able to tolerate earplugs to sleep. The food is pretty good, and the free transportation into Portland is a big plus. The school clubs are very popular and getting involved right away was a good move on her part.

The quick flight back and forth is another bonus. Good Luck! LC Parent

Unfortunately, I agree completely with the above not so positive report on Lewis and Clark. The strongest element is the teachers and the quality of education. That is the only reason my son will be finishing up there. The social situation is another factor. A very elite atmosphere and not very friendly. Even though the college, at orientation gives much assurance to the parents that your student is greatly supported through this transition, we did not see that. The dorm rooms were very small, and my son had 2 roommates, at different times, both of whom stopped going to class, were depressed, and the RA's and head of the dorm did not intervene until they were in very bad shape, and the semester was almost over. My son repeatedly reported what he saw happening, but ''because of confidentiality'' they wouldn't respond to him. I really had hoped this was an unusual experience, but on his semester abroad the students had little supervision which resulted in some ''incidences'' (despite the fact that academically it was a very rich program.) I hope they can find a way to address these social issues, since otherwise, academically it's a strong program. Linda