Skip to main content

Access to Excellence

Apply for our admitted student fly-in program and experience the inclusive and welcoming community at Willamette.

Access to Excellence (A2E) Willamette University logo with screened image of campus in the background.

Access to Excellence (A2E) 2022

Willamette University is proud to host Access to Excellence (A2E), a fly-in campus visit program for admitted students to introduce them to our inclusive and welcoming community and begin connecting them to important resources and student spaces on campus.

The theme of this year’s program is Being Seen. We want to echo Willamette’s promise to prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion and believe that these initiatives are not optional — they are a necessity. Being Seen is about recognizing and respecting the intersectional traits that make each Bearcat unique. During Access to Excellence, you will experience why and how Willamette sees you.

Eligibility

To qualify for this program you must be a high school senior, gap year student, or transfer student who has been (or will be) accepted into Willamette University’s entering class of fall 2022. We encourage students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply. This includes, but is not exclusive to:

  • First-generation college students (neither of your parents/guardians has obtained a bachelor’s degree)
  • Those who self-identify as a student of color (of Black, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and/or Latinx descent)
  • Students who are eligible for the Pell Grant or qualify for free or reduced lunch
    Undocumented/DACA Students

The Access to Excellence fly-in program covers all costs associated with travel and participation and is, therefore, competitive. Students must apply, and prove that they are qualified to attend based on the application.

How to Apply

In order to attend an Access to Excellence fly-in program, students must complete a short application that includes standardized questions (e.g. contact/demographic information) and two short essay questions (300 words maximum per essay.) The deadline to submit an Access to Excellence application is Friday, February 25th at 11:59 p.m. (PST).

Apply Now

What Can You Expect from A2E?

Students who are accepted to an A2E fly-in program will participate in all Bearcat Day programming as well, giving them a holistic admitted student experience. Both Friday and Saturday events will provide the opportunity for you to:

  • Experience a day in the life of a Willamette student
  • Connect with faculty, staff, current students and other admitted students
  • Explore the city of Salem and the beautiful Pacific Northwest
  • Engage in identity-based conversation to start your story at Willamette

Dates

  • March 11-12 , 2022
  • April 1-2 , 2022
  • April 15-16, 2022

If you are curious about what your day will look like at the in-person Access to Excellence event, check out the sample schedule.

Travel Grant

Willamette University will cover all costs associated with travel and participation in our A2E fly-in program. Once accepted to the program, you will receive information regarding event registration which will include logistics for flight and/or ground transportation, hotel accommodations, and dietary needs. The travel grant can also cover costs for one parent/guardian to join you. If a parent or guardian cannot join, your counselor or someone supporting your college search may attend in their place.

Virtual Access to Excellence

Can’t make it to campus for an A2E fly-in program? We’re excited to invite any interested student who has been admitted to Willamette University’s entering class of fall 2022 to attend the Virtual Access to Excellence on Sunday, April 10, 2022, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (PST). The three-hour event will include:

  • A warm welcome to the Willamette community
  • Keynote address
  • An interactive small group session to explore themes of diversity, inclusion and equity
  • Building your community panel

REGISTER FOR THE VIRTUAL A2E PROGRAM

If you have questions about the program and/or about the application process, please contact the Undergraduate Office of Admission by emailing bearcat@willamette.edu or calling 503-370-6303.

Sample Schedule

Arrive in Salem, OR
Thursday | All Day

Bearcat Day Programming
Friday | 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

  • All-day admitted student programming

Access 2 Excellence Programming
Friday | 6:30-8 p.m.

  • Introduction with Fireside Chats

Access 2 Excellence Programming
Saturday | 8:30-11:30 a.m.

  • Breakfast Welcome
  • Building Your Community Panel
  • Appreciation of Diversity at Willamette
  • Importance of Self-care at Willamette
  • Final Remarks

Access To Excellence (A2E) FAQs

  • When is Access to Excellence?

    The dates for the Access to Excellence fly-in program are:

    • March 11-12 , 2022
    • April 1-2 , 2022
    • April 15-16, 2022

    Students participating in an A2E fly-in program will also participate in all Bearcat Day programming, giving them a holistic admitted student experience. This means you should anticipate spending two days on campus. Up to two nights of hotel accommodations will be provided depending on travel arrangements. Find a sample schedule above.

    Virtual Access to Excellence will be a half-day virtual event on Sunday, April 10, 2022.

  • What will I do during the Access to Excellence fly-in program?

    Students attending the Access to Excellence fly-in program arrive in Salem on Thursday or Friday, depending on travel arrangements. You will participate in all Bearcat Day programming which will provide the opportunity to sit in on a class, get a feel for student life, and meet with current Willamette students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

    A2E specific programming will begin in the evening on Friday, at the conclusion of Bearcat Day, then continue on Saturday. You can expect to participate in engaging, interactive and educational sessions with fellow admitted students and members of the Willamette community. All activities are designed to support the year’s theme, Being Seen.

    Full itineraries will be shared with students once they are selected for an A2E fly-in program. If you have questions or need more information, please contact the Undergraduate Office of Admission at bearcat@willamette.edu or call 503-370-6303.

  • Am I allowed to bring guests with me?

    You are welcome to bring up to two guests with you to participate in the on-campus program. However, if this limitation is a barrier to your participation, please contact us at bearcat@willamette.edu so we can discuss other options.

    For applicants selected to attend an Access to Excellence fly-in program, Willamette can cover the cost of travel for only one guest, though you are allowed to bring up to two.

  • What are the perks?

    Attending either the in-person or virtual Access to Excellence program will allow you to have a clearer understanding of Willamette’s campus community and feel confident in your ultimate college choice.

    Students who are accepted to an Access to Excellence fly-in program will receive a travel grant and their $500 enrollment deposit waived if enrolled at Willamette for the fall of 2022. The travel grant covers all costs associated with travel to and participation in the program for you and one guest, including flights and/or ground transportation, hotel accommodations and food.

    Students who are unable to attend an in-person Access to Excellence fly-in program are encouraged to register for the Virtual Access to Excellence program on Sunday, April 10, 2022. The virtual Access to Excellence will provide similar opportunities as in-person A2E, but in a virtual format. Students who attend the Virtual Access to Excellence program and choose to enroll at Willamette for the entering class of 2022 will have their $500 enrollment deposit waived.

  • How do I apply for an Access to Excellence fly-in program?

    In order to attend an Access to Excellence fly-in program, students must complete a short application that includes standardized questions (e.g. contact/demographic information) and two short essay questions (300 words maximum per essay.) The deadline to submit an Access to Excellence application is Friday, February 11th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. The Access to Excellence fly-in program covers all costs associated with travel and participation and is, therefore, competitive. Students must apply, and prove that they are qualified to attend based on the application.

    Apply for the A2E Program

    Students who are unable to attend an in-person Access to Excellence fly-in program are encouraged to register for the Virtual Access to Excellence program on Sunday, April 10, 2022. You do not need to submit an application to attend the Virtual Access to Excellence program. Simply register at the link below.

    Register for the Virtual A2E program

  • I applied. When will I hear back?

    Applicants will be notified if they have been selected to attend an A2E fly-in program via email no later than Friday, February 28, 2022.

  • I was selected to attend an A2E fly-in program. What happens next?

    In the email notifying you of your selection, you will be told the dates of your program and instructed on important next steps. We will try our best to accommodate your preferred program dates, as indicated on your application. You will submit a registration form that will officially commit you to the program and collect the necessary information to arrange your travel to campus.

  • When will my flights be booked?

    You are able to book your own flights if that is preferred, and then request reimbursement from Willamette. Alternatively, a member of the Willamette admission team will reach out to you 4-5 weeks prior to the program to confirm travel logistics, including booking flights and arranging transportation to and from the airport.

  • How do I get from the airport to Willamette and back to the airport?

    Willamette will be providing a shuttle to and from the airport for you and your guest. Unless notified otherwise, you will be automatically assigned to a shuttle. If you would like to make your own travel arrangements, please notify bearcat@willamette.edu.

  • What should I bring to the Access to Excellence fly-in program?

    We will supply your meals on campus. Feel free to bring the following items:

    • Proof of vaccination.
    • Refillable water bottle.
    • Comfortable footwear. There will be some walking around campus.
    • Plenty of layers. We will be indoors and outdoors at different points during the day/night.
    • Sunglasses and a hat.
    • Phone/camera.
    • Acceptable ID, such as a valid passport, state-issued enhanced driver's license or U.S. military ID, to fly within the U.S.

Resources and Tips

  • Willamette University Health Guidelines

    The CDC updated its guidance on February 25th to reflect that masks are no longer required in over 70 percent of the counties in the United States, including Marion and Multnomah Counties. Beginning March 12, proof of COVID vaccination status and/or a negative COVID test will no longer be required to gain entry to campus – including both outdoor and indoor Willamette events.

    If any member of your visiting party is feeling unwell leading up to or on the day of your visit, or if any member of your visiting party is exposed to a person(s) known to have COVID-19 within 10 days of the event, we ask that you contact bearcat@willamette.edu.

    Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the current health guidelines and requirements for campus visitors.

  • Traveling to Willamette University

    All visitors should follow CDC guidelines for travel during the pandemic.

    Students who choose to have the Willamette Office of Admission organize their travel should check their email for instructions and itineraries. If you have not received the necessary information or have questions, please contact bearcat@willamette.edu.

    If you have opted into booking your own travel arrangements, we encourage you to utilize some of the travel resources stated below.

    Hotels:

    All Access to Excellence fly-in participants and their guests will be hosted at our partnering hotel, The Grand. The Grand is located less than ½ mile from campus and within walking distance at 201 Liberty St SE, Salem, OR 97301.

    Plane:

    Most domestic students attending an Access to Excellence fly-in program will be flying into Portland International Airport, airport code PDX.

    If you are departing from Alaska-

    • Depart by bus at Crescent Harbor, walk/Uber to Sitka (SIT) to Portland International Airport. Willamette will supply bussing to Salem, OR.
    • Depart by bus at glacier Avenue and 9th street to Shell Simmons Dr. in Juneau, AK.
    • Walk/uber to Juneau (JNU) Airport, arrive at Portland International Airport, Willamette will supply bussing to Salem, OR.

    If you are departing from Hawaii-

    There are many ways to get from the islands to the mainland. A few include:

    • Queen Ka’ ahumanu Center to Kahului airport to Portland International Airport, Willamette will supply bussing to Salem, OR.
    • S Beretania St + Punchbowl St to Honolulu (HNL) to Portland International Airport, Willamette will supply bussing to Salem, OR.

    Train, Bus, or Shuttle:

    Lyft and Uber operate in Salem. Please refer to this map for designated pick-up and drop-off locations on campus. We recommend pick up and drop off at the Office of Admission building.

Willamette University

Office of Admission

Salem Campus

Address
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
Phone
503-370-6303 voice
1-844-BEARCAT toll free
503-375-5363 fax
503-375-5383 TDD