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for students who have not enrolled in college course work after high school

Frequently Asked Questions

Applying to Western...
When should I apply for admission and financial aid?

These next few months can be busy while you're juggling all your responsibilities as well as applying to college. Review our freshman timeline and application instructions to keep you organized.

Should I apply online?

Over 95% of our freshman applicants find the online application to be most convenient as you can edit it and you don't have to worry about illegible handwriting. You can also print a paper application and send it through the mail. Regardless of how you apply, we recommend you to keep a copy of your completed application for your records.

How do I get technical support when using your online application? (I forgot my login and/or password. I need help paying online. I can't navigate between the form pages.)

For technical support of the freshman online application, please visit the ApplyWeb Help page. You will find help with many technical issues, such as signing in, online payments, or form and navigation issues. You can also use this link to submit your specific question, which will be answered to you by email. If you prefer not to use the Applyweb Help page, you can send an email directly to -- be sure to include your full contact information with your questions.

Do you accept the "Common Application"?

No, but we've got something that's equally helpful. Like many other schools, Western uses CollegeNet's ApplyWeb for our online application. This means that you can use the same account login and password for Western as you use for University of Washington, Washington State University, Evergreen State College, University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran University, Whitman College, and many others across the country. Use the same account login and password because questions that are common between the applications may be filled in automatically.

What should I expect after I apply for admission?
  1. If you apply online you will receive an acknowledgement email within an hour of successfully submitting the application and payment of the application fee.
  2. Within two weeks of receiving your application we will send you an email that includes your student number (Western ID) and instructions on how to check your application status online using the Application Status website. This website lists the application items we've received (such as transcripts, test scores, etc.), as well as any missing items needed to make your application complete. This website will not display your decision.
  3. You will be notified in writing of an admissions decision. While some students are notified earlier, the majority of decisions are made after the application deadline. Fall applicants who apply early may receive a decision as early as November and no later than April, while Winter and Spring applicants should receive a decision 4-6 weeks after the deadline. We appreciate your patience in this process to ensure every application is carefully reviewed.
What does the Admissions Committee look for when reviewing my application?

You know there is much more to you than your GPA and test scores, and so do we. Obviously, your academic performance – including grades, grade trends, the types of courses you've taken, and how much you pushed yourself – should be, and is, important. At the same time, we know that other factors can have an impact on academic achievement.

We also know that Western would be BORING if GPA and test scores were all that we cared about. What you do in or for your community, how you spend your time outside of school, what other talents you bring to campus, how you challenge yourself, and what makes you different than the person sitting next to you, can also influence the decision on your application. We are looking for students who want to be actively involved in their learning and in the Western community. Use the application's Essay and Activities List to make yourself come alive!

Can I submit an electronic or unofficial high school transcript with my application?

Yes! As of September 2011, students may submit either an official or unofficial transcript at the time of application. In addition, online applicants can upload an electronic copy of their transcript with the online application. Complete details about submitting transcripts is available in our Application Instructions page.

Do SAT or ACT test scores have to be sent directly from the testing agency, and how important are test scores in the application review?

While most students request their test scores be sent to Western at the time they register for the test, you can also have your high school send them with your transcript or order the scores directly from the testing agency. Since Western only uses your highest scores, you don't need to worry about "screening" your scores before you have them sent. We want your application to be as strong as it can be, so we don't even look at weaker scores if you take the test more than once. To be received on time, you should take the test at least six weeks before the application deadline.

And, no, we do not prefer one test over the other.

Finally, test scores are not nearly as important in the application review as most students may think. Your academic record and what you have accomplished in and out of the classroom are much more helpful in the application review.

Visit our Application Instructions website for more details about submitting test scores.

How does Western use the cumulative senior project?

At this point, the senior project is not considered in the admissions process. That said, we encourage you to put your best foot forward in everything you do, and make the most of all of your educational opportunities.

If Running Start students are considered freshmen, does that mean my college credits won't transfer?

No. Any transferable college credit (Running Start college credit, AP, IB, etc.) you earned will be considered in transfer to Western. To receive credit, official college transcripts and AP/IB scores are required. Running Start students who have completed college credit are encouraged to request an electronic college transcript be sent from the community college at the time of application. The same policies regarding the acceptance of transfer credit will apply.

I've been admitted! What happens now?

Congratulations on your admission! We have an Admitted Student website just for new freshmen, which will help you finalize your decision, get to know us better, plan your finances, find a new home, prepare for orientation and registration, and tie up other loose ends.

Getting to know Western and Bellingham...
Am I required to live on campus as a freshman?

No, you are not required to live on campus, but over 90% of the freshman class lives on campus and it is definitely recommended. Not only does it make it easier to meet new people and to take advantage of all that campus has to offer, but living on campus makes it easier to focus on academics as you have someone to cook your food, clean your bathroom, and keep you informed. We can pretty much guarantee you won't have it so good off-campus.

Western's residence halls are among the nicest in the country – including great facilities, tremendous choice, a spectacular location, and a very welcoming community. On-campus housing is available to all interested students, which includes 92% of the freshman class and nearly 4,000 students overall. After the first year, many students continue to live on campus as sophomores, juniors and even seniors as it just is comfortable, convenient, and fun.

Priority for selecting where on campus you want to live is determined by the date we receive your application for admission.

How can I get departmental information in my area of interest?

Visit departmental websites or check out our major guides, which provide an excellent overview of each major and the courses required to earn a degree. You can also reference our course catalog.

Will I be able to afford Western?

Western is committed to helping reduce the cost of attendance for students who cannot afford full tuition, on-campus housing and meals, books, and related expenses. Students who submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by Western's priority financial aid deadline of February 15th are considered for need-based aid in the form of grants, tuition waivers, work-study employment, and loans.

Nearly 85% of low and lower middle income students - as determined by the FAFSA - who are Washington residents that applied for financial aid generally are awarded need-based grants, waivers, and scholarships that exceeded the full cost of tuition and fees. These grants and waivers are free money, meaning they do not need to be repaid. The remaining grants, waivers, scholarships, on-campus employment and loans help cover additional expenses such as housing, meals, books, and related expenses.

Western recognizes that affordability is also a concern for middle income families. Partial tuition waivers, loans, student employment, and scholarships help these families to reduce the cost of attendance as well.

How easy is it to find a job while I am a student?

The Student Employment Center helps work-study and non work-study students find jobs both on and off campus. Well over 3,000 students hold jobs in a variety of different areas on campus. Some examples of student jobs are web page designers, computer programmers, food services, departmental assistants, Residential Advisors, student advisors, kayak guides, and grounds crew.

Where is Bellingham and what is it like?

A coastal city of 80,000, Bellingham is located 55 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and 90 miles north of Seattle. Our location between two major cities provides easy access for national and international visiting artists, scholars, and touring groups. The local music scene and arts community are great, with many places for live music, performances, and art. On and off-campus theatre and other performance opportunities are abundant, including the Up-Front Theater, owned by internationally known improv comedian Ryan Stiles.

The San Juan islands and Bellingham Bay lie directly to the west; Mt. Baker and the North Cascade mountain range are less than an hour east. Bellingham is the only city in Washington and Oregon to be designated a Trail Town USA by the American Hiking Society. In addition, Bellingham has also been rated nationally as one of the top 10 places to live for people in their 20s.

What kind of outdoor recreational opportunities are available?

Bellingham is an outdoor-lover's paradise. For the outdoor enthusiast, the San Juan Islands, Skagit River delta, and Mt. Baker National Forest and Ski and Snowboard Area are all at our doorstep. Nearby, Mt. Baker Ski Area has one of the longest seasons in the country (November - late-April), enjoyed world record snowfall during the 1998-1999 season, and is well regarded as the place where snowboarding began!

One great way to get into the outdoors is to visit the Outdoor Center, a part of the Associated Students of Western. The student-run bike shop is the perfect place for a tune-up. The Outdoor Center also rents outdoor equipment ranging from backpacks and sleeping bags to snowshoes and snow skis. They also plan kayaking, hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, snow-shoeing, snowboarding, biking, and sailing trips with trained student leaders to destinations all over the greater Whatcom County area.

Another location for great outdoor activity is the Lakewood recreational facility located on the shores of Lake Whatcom. The Lakewood facility is surrounded by 30 acres of wooded land and beach property owned by WWU. At Lakewood's Boathouse you can rent over 60 watercraft for as little as $3 a day, including kayaks, canoes, rowboats, sailboats, sailboards, Lasers, and Alphas. Or, just come to relax and swim off the docks!

Western's location is idea for fieldwork and outdoor research, with mountains, glaciers, rivers, saltwater, and a wide variety of other natural habitats in our backyard.

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