Welcome to Bellingham, WWU students — here’s what you may have missed over the summer

Fireworks show at Herald Building welcomes Western students back to Bellingham

A fireworks show from the Paint B'Ham Blue for WWU event on Wednesday, Sept. 27, in Bellingham.
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A fireworks show from the Paint B'Ham Blue for WWU event on Wednesday, Sept. 27, in Bellingham.

If it seems like there’s less elbow room at your favorite bar, more unfamiliar faces in the grocery store and more traffic just about everywhere you look, there’s a good reason why — Western Washington University students are back in town.

Approximately 4,100 students were expected to move into WWU’s residence halls, with the majority arriving over the weekend. Thousands more will be moving or have already moved into off-campus housing, in preparation for first day of classes on Wednesday.

“Welcoming new and returning students to campus is one of the most exciting times of the year at Western,” WWU president Sabah Randhawa said in a press release. “It’s also a time we can help set every student up for success, not only by connecting them to campus resources, but to the campus community, and the broader Bellingham community as well.”

So, to the nearly 15,000 undergraduate students expected for the fall quarter — welcome back.

While you were away — or at least in summer classes — Western and Bellingham found their way onto a number of national and state college rankings, including:

Bellingham was ranked the 20th-best college town in America by att.net, in part based on the arts and entertainment in the area. Boulder, Colorado, home of the University of Colorado, received the top ranking.

Bellingham also was ranked the top college town in Washington state by reviews.org. Before you start asking about Seattle and the University of Washington, only cities with fewer than 250,000 people were ranked based on cost of living, student employment, city access, college-educated population, nightlife and fun.

Bellingham also was ranked among the best college towns nationally to work your way through college, according studentloanhero.com, which ranked Bellingham No. 16, thanks in part to the state’s $11.50 minimum wage. Cheney (Eastern Washington) topped the list and was joined by two other Washington communities — No. 5 Olympia (Evergreen State College) and No. 14 Ellensburg (Central Washington).

Western Washington was ranked the second-best public university in the western region, behind only Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, according the Best College Rankings published by U.S. News & World Report. The publication also listed WWU the 11th-best college for veterans nationally, the 19th-best university in the west region overall and the 43rd-best value school in the nation. Western also was ranked the fourth-best school in Washington behind No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 Seattle University and No. 3 Whitworth University by U.S. News & World Report.

And, as if that weren’t enough, powder.com ranked Western among the Best West Coast Colleges for Skiers based on a combination of culture, tuition, academics and closeness to the slopes. Thank you, Mt. Baker Ski Area!

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As students move to Bellingham to prepare for the start of the academic year, WWU and the area made a number of national and regional rankings over the summer. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

You know what we need to celebrate all this good news?

Fireworks, food trucks and live music, of course.

As luck would have it, Western’s alumni association has you covered as part of its third annual Paint B’ham Blue event on Wednesday.

The event, which is intended to celebrate the start of the academic year, is just part of a long list of events scheduled to welcome WWU students to Bellingham, including:

The Western Welcome Week with a number of events through Friday.

The New Student Convocation, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Performing Arts Center.

A variety of workshops on study skills, declaring a major and information on personal finances Monday and Tuesday

The Associated Students Info Fair Monday and Tuesday in Red Square.