Evergreen State College welcomes 560 first-year students

Moving onto The Evergreen State College is like “entering a whole different universe” for incoming freshman Jahni Threatt. She’s trading Washington, D.C., for Washington, lured by the school’s beauty and unconventional programs.

“When I came here, I couldn’t believe there was a school in the middle of the woods,” Threatt said. “I knew right away that I wanted to come here.”

She and her best friend, Christina Alcorta-Hollinsed, both decided to leave urban homes behind and embark on a 10-day journey to Olympia. And while the young women are both thrilled with the decision, Threatt’s mother, Akisha, has some reservations.

“I can’t get to her right away,” Akisha Threatt said. “I’m not going to see her as much as I want to.”

“She heard me say something about Temple University (in Philadelphia ) once, and that’s where she decided she wanted me to go,” Jahni Threatt said.

The young women joined about 420 first-year students moving into Evergreen’s residence halls Saturday. The new students will spend the coming weeks in orientation and officially start classes Sept. 29.

College staff and student employees spent about a month readying the dorms for their new inhabitants, said Sharon Goodman, director of residential and dining services. The students were welcomed by 23 resident advisers, new lounges and a new courtyard, which was once a parking lot.

About 40 percent of Evergreen’s incoming students aren’t from Washington, college spokeswoman Meryl Lipman said. Most of the in-state students come from urban hubs in King, Thurston, Clark and Whatcom counties.

The college won’t know final enrollment numbers for about a month, but Lipman said they’re expecting 560 first-year students — up from 509 last year — and 3,860 students total.

About 60 percent of this year’s students are women, Lipman said. For the most part, that follows national trends. Last year, 24 percent were students of color, but that number has risen to 29.5 percent this year. About 80 percent of first-year students will live in college housing, while about 20 percent of the entire student population will. About 41 percent of students are classified as low-income.

“That fact that we’re a public school makes us more affordable and attractive,” Lipman said.