Following the demand for education and training teachers in 1890, a state legislature provided for establishment of Washington State Normal School (WSNS) which was started in Ellensburg. It started operating in 1891, but the first classes were held at Washington Public School. The first WSNS class was named Barge Hall after the first Principal Benjamin F. Barge. This hall was later, in 1976, considered for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. WSNS was later, in 1937, renamed as Central Washington College. In 1961, it was renamed Central Washington State College and later Central Washington University (CWU) in 1977 (The Golden Years 21).

Every student with interest to pursue higher education is required to carry out an evaluation in order to make the right decision when choosing the institution to attend. Use of these criteria is critical in understanding how suitable the institution is, given ones interests.

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CWU is situated on interstate 90, which is in Kittitas Valley in Ellensburg, Washington. It is approximately located 180 km (110miles) to the east of Seattle. Its location is also to the north of the Stuart Mountain towers. Other landmarks include Yakima River to the South and to the east is the Columbia River. Not far from the University are the Mission Ridge and Snoqualmie Pass that offers sporting opportunities during winter. Among the most fascinating attributes with regard to its position is its centrality in the state. This means easy access from each side of the state, as opposed to those that lie along the borders. The institution offers its program in nearly a rural setting that gives university knowledge in the Pacific Northwest. Its location in Ellensburg is perceived as a consolation to the city after failing to become Washington States’ capital (The Golden Years 24).

The other criterion of CWU evaluation is academics. It offers a wide range of programs both for undergraduate and master’s degree. There are 150 degrees for undergraduate students and 27 degrees for master’s students. The institution was founded as a center for teacher’s training. For this reason, education program forms an integral part of CWU. The existing programs include college of humanities and arts, college of professional studies and education, college of business, undergraduate studies, college of science, graduate studies and William O. Douglas College. Though the university puts more emphasis on education and business programs, it also has some research programs. For instance, of the two facilities for research between human and chimpanzee communications, one of the facilities is found in this institution. It provided residence for Washoe, the famous chimpanzee, for nearly 20 years. The researches on the chimpanzee, however, are limited to social research as opposed to medical ones. Of late, the institution has developed highly-regarded science research program. In this program, students have been able to pursue science-related careers. For instance, students from CWU have, in the recent years, co-authored scholarly articles and presented research findings in various conferences.

The class size in CWU is relatively large with the ratio of faculty to students being 21:1. About 40% of the classes accommodate not more than 20 students. According to World Report and U.S. News, CWU is ranked 40th best university in the west. Among the regional universities, CWU is ranked 12th best. Northwest Commission on Colleges and University (NWCCU) an institution that accredits schools in Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Montana, Utah, Oregon and Washington have also accredited CWU. In the region, NWCCU has accredited a total of 150 universities and colleges in the region.

The other evaluation criterion looks at admission of the students into the institution. CWU has developed an index for admission that helps assess different information that applicants submits for consideration. This index considers SAT, ACT and GPA scores. For students who do not manage to secure admission through the process on index consideration may secure admission after submitting admission essay. For one to be considered however, the essay should be supported by fulfillment of other admission requirements (Welcome to Central 13). There are deadlines in every quarter. April first is the last day that one can submit his/her application in fall quarter. Nov. 1, March 1 and June 1 are deadlines for winter quarter, spring quarter and summer quarter respectively. In case a student wants to transfer into the institution, he has to submit his SAT and ACT scores as well as his transcripts in the previous college. A comprehensive application review for transfer is conducted for those with their GPA less than 2.5. From May 2011, the institution has been charging $55 as application fee.

The other evaluation criterion regards financial aids available to students in CWU. Those students who apply to join CWU are eligible for student loan and federal grants. Other sources of grants to students include scholarships and grants offered by state of Washington, the university itself and other organization. For instance, CWU spent a total of $100 million in 2009 inform of financial aids and student scholarship. The institution has, for instance, initiated a Heacock Family Scholarship for Women in Technology. As means of encouraging women into technology courses, female students who major in electronic engineering, mechanical engineering and industrial education receive $ 1000 awards. For students who demonstrate financial needs and are able to score 3.5 in their high school GPA and a score of not less than 45 in their admission index, they are eligible for merit tuition program. Under this program, the student receives up to a maximum of $ 2700 every term but has to maintain a minimum of 2.5 GPA to be able to continue enjoying the scholarship. CWU provides an exhaustive record, in its website, of scholarship opportunities as well as details on how to apply for such scholarships.

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The other criterion relates to students environment which is core to their performance. CWU has around 10000 students, and a third of them are accommodated in on-campus housing. Similar to other institutions in the state, majority of the students are white while Hispanics are the next largest. The student body consists of relatively equal number of male and female students, with amount of females being slightly higher. To provide a suitable environment for all students, the institution has Diversity Education Centre. CWU have established nearly 100 organizations and clubs for students. These organizations include special interest groups, academic and professional organizations. Others include club sports and rugby which have turned out to be the student’s favorite. There are also Greek sororities and fraternities in the institution. There is also a recreational facility 80000 sq., an impressive recreational and exercise center. Here, students get to attend fitness classes, strength training and indoor climbing. The institution also has a radio station, KCWU, which over time has developed into a well-equipped and managed broadcast station.

The other criterion is the local community where the CWU is located. Given that the town is small, the students do not get distracted as compared to their counterparts in other institutions in big cities (The Golden Years 28). The bustling nightlife experienced in big cities does not happen here. However, Valley Music Festivals are held every year.

In my opinion, CWU is a great place that can offer conducive environment for learning and development of co-curricular skills relevant in life. The decision is founded on accessibility of the location, consideration in admission for new entrants and transfers, financial aids extended to students, conducive natural environment and diversity training which is important in the global set-up that we leave in today.