Education is an Adventure at Westminster College

By Yeti \ November 7 2017

By: Amy David a Westminster alum, former Ski Utah magazine cover girl and all around ski all-star. 

Have you heard the rumor of The Greatest Snow on Earth? It’s true. A proven fact. Many Westminster College students are drawn to Utah’s only private, liberal arts college because of its incredible location for outdoor recreation paired with a world-class education. This is the place to become well-rounded by maintaining a sharp mind, a diverse global awareness, a sense of belonging to a community and getting the opportunity to ski the deepest powder of your life.

The proximity from campus to the mountains enables you to ski, snowboard, hike, climb or bike in the morning and head to class in the afternoon—allowing students to maintain a healthy balance of adventure and learning.



True Story:

During my sophomore year, I woke up early every morning after a big storm, and stopped by Hector’s local burrito shop on the drive up to Snowbird with friends I made through the Ski and Snowboard Club. We’d ski first tracks of deep, fresh snow for three hours before driving back to campus to be in class by 1 p.m. I distinctly remember being fully captivated by the professor’s discussion while looking around the classroom and seeing half the students wearing snow pants with those powder-induced grins. In those moments, I knew I was right where I should be. 



As a Westminster alum - and 2010 Exemplary Achievement Scholarship recipient with a BA in the psychology of communication and a minor in outdoor education and leadership - I've applied my degree beyond professional skiing to produce inspiring content for companies in the outdoor industry. Earning this degree at Westminster was one of the most beneficial decisions I've made as a young adult. 

This article outlines the nitty gritty of why Westminster’s superb location enriches student’s experiences from the location facts, outdoor education degrees and programs and why the local mountains paired with a diverse city is a magnet for world-class intellects and adventurers.






Top Location Facts:

Dramatic mountain peaks line the city providing the ultimate combination of a buzzing metropolitan area and unlimited outdoor recreation.

  • The foothills of the Wasatch Front are lined with hiking and mountain biking trails for a quick excursion into nature.

  • Ten ski resorts are within one hour of downtown Salt Lake City - and six of those are within 30 minutes of campus. Utah's Cottonwood Canyons are one of the snowiest places in the world, boasting The Greatest Snow on Earth.

  • With over 60 national and state parks only a few hours away, Salt Lake is the perfect hub of Utah’s natural playground. Opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, fishing, camping, climbing, outdoor photography and general exploring are practically endless. See the page of VisitSaltLake.com.

  • The international airport is just 15 minutes from campus.

  • Campus is 10 minutes from downtown's business district, which hosts multiple museums, diversity centers, a beautiful public library, several shopping malls, lively nightlife entertainment and much more.

  • All students are given a Utah Transit Authority (UTA) pass, which provides over 100 bus routes throughout an 1,800 square-mile area. UTA also provides light-rail service, airport transportation, service to ski resorts in winter and door-to-door transportation for disabled passengers.




Quick Facts:

  • A sustainable campus focused on recycling, reusing and respecting nature.

  • Of the 2,692 enrolled students, 50% are from out of state and 50% are in-state.

  • The average class size is 16 students, providing more engaging classroom conversation, professors who know you by name, and the opportunity to have your voice heard.

  • The 32-acre campus hosts 29 college facilities, including residence halls; a state-of-the-art, LEED-certified science center; a library; facilities for athletics and recreation; art and performance spaces, etc.

  • Twenty three students competed in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, comprising 10% of Team USA


Westminster is the Official Partner–Traditional College for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

While my focus growing up was highly academically driven, my dream has always been to be a professional skier. The best advice my freestyle coach gave me was to focus on earning my college degree while simultaneously pursuing a ski career. I learned Westminster College was the official higher education sponsor for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams, which elevated my interest in this school. By attending Westminster, I would be surrounded by Olympians who could become mentors.


Westminster is home to over 60 US Ski and Snowboard members, and had 23 students compete in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Undergraduate, Maddie Bowman, even brought home the gold medal in women’s halfpipe skiing. The incredible faculty work closely with the student-athletes to optimize their education during rigorous training and competition schedules, which enables Westminster students to excel in sport while maintaining an average 3.6 GPA.


Sports Management and Outdoor Education and Leadership Degrees

The addition of a minor in outdoor education and leadership was announced my junior year. Knowing I would utilize knowledge in this topic the rest of my life, I immediately adjusted my course schedule and became one of the first students to graduate with the minor in outdoor education and leadership.


Currently, Westminster offers a full major and minor in outdoor education and leadership. The program instructors have experience guiding expeditions all over the world. Throughout the program, students help plan and lead outdoor trips where Utah’s deserts, mountains and public lands become your classroom. While becoming an experienced leader teaching in the front and backcountry, you’ll apply your new knowledge of natural science, cultural history, land management, literature and environmental studies. If you simply want to meet other students who love outdoor adventure, check out the Outdoor Program for student-led trips.  



Another new program is the bachelor of science in sports management for those who are interested in being involved in athletics behind the scenes.  



Clubs and Organizations

No matter what fuels your fire in life, there is a place for you at Westminster. If you’re looking for a group of people ready to welcome you to their niche from skiing to science, mountain biking to math, climbing to chemistry, browse the list of over 50 clubs and organizations.



Westminster Semester-Long Expedition Road Trip

In the fall of 2017, Wesminster launched its first semester-long road trip designed as an exploration into the issues at the heart of contemporary West: the Westminster Expedition. Imagine setting off on a road trip across the American West for several months with 14 students, two professors, and a couple of vans loaded with books and camping gear. Students earn 16 credits in environmental studies and history as they study Environmental Cooperation and Conflict, Landscape and Meaning, the History of Public Lands and the Native West.

Expedition student, Bridger Layton, writes, “This prolonged journey into the field will allow us to learn directly from landscapes and ecosystems, as well as from people who live, work and study in those places.”


Great Salt Lake Institute

Westminster College is uniquely situated with the Great Salt Lake to the west. Science faculty began researching this unique ecosystem and soon began running community field trips, developing student curriculum on the lake in addition to hosting a summer undergraduate research program with the goal of connecting people to Great Salt Lake through research and education.


If you want to engage with a place to explore your interests, ski the greatest snow on earth and start a path to a meaningful and successful life, this is the place for you. Imagine your journey through college is like summiting a mountain: there are many peaks to reach, so you choose one to begin. To reach the summit, there are specific technical skills you must develop, ethical principles you internalize and a step-by-step outline with the big picture in mind to build. Summiting a mountain takes persistence, passion, patience and collaboration. As an analogy, your personal mountain summits at Westminster are fostered by your team of fellow students, family, and faculty. Each step along your route is taken through a combination of wise guidance and brave independence. Whether seeking the summits of education or of the Wasatch Range, Westminster College is the school to get you there.


@WestminsterSLC





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