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College Spotlight: University of Portland

By Staff | Jun 25, 2020

Before I talk about University of Portland, I want to give a brief COVID-19 update about standardized testing. Both the SAT and ACT have had to make major adjustments to their testing schedules as a result of the pandemic. As a result, many schools are going to “test optional” admissions for the 2021-22 school year.

It is important to note that “test optional” does not necessarily mean the same things at all schools, and if you are attempting to gain admission to some of the more selective colleges, you will still want to make your best effort to study for and take one of the exams at your first possible opportunity.

While a school may not REQUIRE tests for admission, it may still review them if submitted, and require them for scholarship consideration. Make sure you are paying attention to the requirements of each school where you choose to apply and the updated schedules for testing.

Now on to the University of Portland! UP, as it is familiarly known, is located on a bluff on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. It overlooks the Willamette River and onto downtown Portland. It is a quick bus ride into the downtown area and about 20 minutes to the Portland International Airport, where one can hop on a nonstop flight to Maui most days of the week (in non-pandemic times).

UP has just under 4,000 undergraduate students across a fairly wide range of majors, with particularly strong programs in their Nursing and Engineering Schools. UP is a beautiful campus that has a very “East Coast” feel to it, with mostly brick buildings centered around a main quad area that has a mix of both old and new structures. UP is a Catholic school; however, it does not require church attendance or courses in Catholicism. Like most Catholic schools, courses in religious education (any religion) are required as part of the core curriculum.

UP offers 40 different majors across five different schools. When applying, one applies to the school of choice. Changing schools after admittance requires academic approval, and certain requirements may need to be met, but overall it is not a difficult process. The Nursing School is more selective than some other programs and may require that additional standards be met, as it is a four-year program.

One of the more unique programs that UP offers is an intensive study abroad program for one year in Salzburg, Austria. UP owns its own facility there, and it houses and educates 32 lucky sophomores each year. Since the program is offered to sophomores, they spend the year working on their core requirements and have the opportunity to study and learn German from the locals. Students interested in this should know that the application process begins shortly after arrival as freshmen, so look into it early.

The UP Pilots are part of the WCC, a Division One conference of the NCAA. They currently field six men’s teams and eight women’s teams – including beach volleyball! Women’s soccer has been particularly powerful over the years, with famous graduates Megan Rapinoe, Sophie Schmidt and Christine Sinclair all participating in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. The current head coach of the Miami Heat, Erik Spoelstra, is also an alum and former player.

Admissions to UP is considered “somewhat selective,” with 61 percent of applicants admitted. This can be a little bit misleading though, since 96 percent of applicants are in the top half of their graduating classes (with most having over a 3.25 GPA).

What is great for Hawaii applicants to know is that the year I visited, of the 1,100 students in the freshman class, 100 of them were from Hawaii! The school has an official Aloha Club for those students lucky enough to come from our islands.

Give UP a “virtual” look – it will be worth your time. And make sure to get started on your college essays now; this will be your biggest chance to tell the schools where you want to apply all about you and what makes you special!

Maryanne Hogan is an Independent College Admissions Consultant working with students on Maui. Visit her website thecollegeauntie.com for more information or to make an appointment.