Two young women make a poster presentation to a group of adults

College Quest: Bellingham

Program Overview

College Quest helps high school students entering grades 10-12 prepare for and understand what it takes to succeed in college. Join us on our campus in Bellingham, WA to explore what Western has to offer. In this one-week program, students live in the residence hall, eat in the dining hall and attend a college course of their choice taught by Western faculty, earning one transferrable credit. During afternoons and evenings, program staff guides students in a variety of activities that helps them understand the whole college experience.

The Audio Described version of this video can be accessed on YouTube.

Campus Living

Experience on-campus living. Each student has one roommate for the week. Rooms grouped by gender on separate floors. Gender neutral housing options are available upon request.

Western Residential Advisors provide support during the week. This includes recreational and social activities, counseling, group supervision and more. We expect students to be independently responsible for managing their time; getting to meals, reporting to class on time, labs and workshops, working on assignments, etc.

Classrooms, computer labs, dining halls and the library are all easily accessible from the residence hall.

Youth program participants and staff must abide by all University regulations and program rules.

At a Glance

Entering Grades 10-12

Sunday - Friday, July 12 - July 17, 2020
Sunday - Friday, July 19 - July 24, 2020

Daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Western Washington University
See location details


1190 – 1390


Week 1: July 12 - 17, 2020

FAIR 162B: Principles of Film and Video Production

Participants advance their skills and gain confidence with video and audio editing techniques – from basics to special effects – with Final Cut Pro. 


  • Explore development of the story board, shot list and scripting the story.
  • Learn the equipment, including digital cameras, tripods, external microphones, lighting and editing on Mac computers. 
  • Learn the basics of shooting footage with a green screen, lighting kit setup, audio voice-over and multi-camera recording/editing. 
  • Practice these principals by producing and critiquing short films each day, including a commercial, a silent film and short "My Life on Campus" film.
  • Working in small groups, produce a music video for the final project. 

Course objectives:

  • Explore educational, personal and career goals in a safe, student-centered environment.

  • Learn the equipment including digital cameras, tripods, external microphones, lighting and editing with Final Cut Pro.
  • Learn shooting composition and shot framing, such as angles, pans and tilts, leveling and zoom.
  • Create and construct a script, shot list, story board and finished product.

PDF icon Permission and Release and Loss or Damage to Property Form must be signed by students taking the FAIR 162B: Film/video production course.

Instructor: Mark Miller 

COMM 197: Introduction to Communication and Public Speaking

“Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” - Holtz, L.

Explore the process of oral communication and build essential skills that culminate in a Ted Talk presentation.


  • Examine the basic principles of public speaking.
  • Participate in lively and interactive discussions, observations, reflections and skills-rehearsal.
  • Apply each principal of speech as the speaker and as the listener.
  • Deliver speeches in their own voice and style in front of an audience.
  • Learn to critique and receive feedback in a constructive manner.
  • Build speaking skills and self-concept that are essential for success in life.

Course objectives:

  • Understand the process of creating, organizing, revising and delivering various types of speeches.
  • Develop critical thinking and reflection skills.
  • Build self-concept and confidence.
  • Demonstrate ability to apply concepts.
  • Gain awareness of inclusion, equity and social justice beyond tolerance.

Instructor: Dr. Tara Perry

MSCI 110: Introduction to Renewable Energy for Scientists and Engineers

The effort to find reliable and affordable carbon-free energy sources is one of the greatest scientific challenges facing the next generation.

In this course, students:

  • Explore renewable energy technology and learn about the science underlying biofuels, wind, wave power, nuclear power and solar cells.
  • Create biodiesel fuel in the laboratory and construct and test their own solar cell devices.
  • Take field trips to local energy companies where they are introduced to current and emerging energy infrastructures.
  • Work in small groups to research a focus area of renewable energy and at the end of the course give group presentations to communicate their findings.
  • Keep a lab notebook of their experiments.
  • Perform in-depth research on one particular energy source and present their findings.

NOTE: Student must wear appropriate attire for labs: long pants and closed-toed shoes.

Course objectives:

  • Explore renewable energy topics.
  • Learn the role of materials science in renewable energy technology.
  • Critically evaluate and discuss renewable energy options.
  • Structure design and planning of experiments.
  • Meet and interact with experts at local energy companies.

Instructor: David Rider 

FAIR 197Z: Generation Z: Telling Your Story

The generation born between 1995 and 2010, increasingly referred to as “Generation Z,” is coming to college, entering the workforce and shaping the world in which we live. Participants are members of this changing landscape. They have been called “influencers,” “digital natives,” and “truth-seekers.” Much is written, researched and speculated about them. In this course, we explore how to make meaning of the personal (their story) situated in the context of the social (media, narratives, stereotypes). We spend time learning about generational theory and critically analyze how it may be validating or limiting. We explore different approaches to telling our own personal stories, autobiographies and counternarratives (challenging assumed truths). We reflect on the distinct ways that they are developing leadership skills as a member of Generation Z and how those strengths translate to their educational future. Participants can consider this class an opportunity to tune into the conversation happening about them and interrupting with their own experience. 

Instructor: Anna M. Blick, Ed.D

BIO 194: Ecology of Local Marine Habitats

Marine ecology examines the environmental and biological factors that affect distribution, abundance and diversity of organisms. This course surveys local marine habitats to examine ecological patterns. 


  • Take daily field trips to collect specimens for lab or data analysis.
  • Gain an understanding of human impacts and how citizens can help protect marine habitats.
  • Participate in two Citizen Science projects considering their findings.
  • Develop questions and hypotheses, conduct field sampling research, analyze data and present results.

Course objectives:

  • Gain an understanding of environmental and biological features with a focus on invertebrates.
  • Develop familiarity with local marine habitats and organisms.
  • Research how organisms' life habitats enable them to utilize their habitat.
  • Record research data in a detailed field journal.
  • Design and plan experiments that address specific hypotheses.
  • Gain an understanding of Citizen Science and how to become a steward of our local marine environments.

Instructor: Grace Freeman


THTR 184: Creative Writing for the Stage

Writing for the Stage is an intensive writing course that can give opportunity for creation of a vlog or a podcast by using dialogue to generate action. Every webisode, Netflix series, TV show, movie, commercial, lecture and even documentary have one thing in common – the script!


  • Create a ten-minute play and work with trained actors to present a reading of their work.
  • Create tangible and dynamic characters.
  • Practice giving feedback to fellow writers in a constructive and safe environment
  • Work in teams as a company of writers.
  • Produce a professional reading of premiere 10-minute plays.

Course objectives:

  • Learn to collaborate with other artists to realize the page to stage process
  • Discover the skills and understanding of playwriting that can be applied to scholarly or creative writing.
  • Demonstrate clear understanding of the five-part structure in creating scene – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
  • Understand how to receive constructive criticism and workshop writing.
  • Gain insight into how professional playwrights make a living.
  • Class is held Monday through Friday; various hours. Enrollment is limited to a maximum of 20 students.

Instructor: Kamarie Chapman

Learn more about Kamarie's love for playwriting in a recent Western Front article.

Week 2: July 19 - 24, 2020

ENTR 197A: Exploring Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Welcome to E+ lab! E + lab is about Entrepreneurship + Excitement + Empathy + Exploration + Experimentation + Evidence + Enthusiasm + Everybody… anything you can think of that starts with E.

This experiential course explores the practice and underlying theory of very early stage entrepreneurship and innovation with varied economic and non-economic purposes. Developing ideas through application of entrepreneurial and innovative processes is the focus. Students will:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the processes for opportunity recognition through writing opportunity/problem statements
  • Demonstrate understanding of the process for early-stage idea development through drawing out ideas in the process framework
  • Demonstrate understanding of the scientific method to build empathy and engage in evidence based entrepreneurship and innovation through:
    • Writing idea hypotheses, getting out of the classroom and conducting primary research (effectively engaging with customers and beneficiaries of their ideas) and secondary research (use of existing data) to test their hypotheses and making appropriate adjustments for additional tests
  • Demonstrate ability to communicate ideas through:
    • Building and explaining an idea prototype
    • Creating and delivering a live idea ‘pitch’ presentation demonstrating learning accomplished
  • Demonstrate basic understanding of teaming through effectively working a with team and completing a peer and self-performance evaluation

Course Objectives:

  • Understand the properties of materials and how they are tested
  • Examine types of materials, and how their characteristic properties influence their applications
  • Learn how materials are processed to produce products
  • Gain knowledge of the processing effects on the microscopic structure of materials
  • Observe and discover how the microscopic structure of materials affects their properties, and how those properties can be optimized by manipulating that structure during processing

Instructor: Meg Weber

BNS 194: Behavioral Neuroscience

Is it true that we use only 10 percent of our brain? Or that we should only believe part of what we see? And what is a phantom limb, anyway? Participants learn the answers to these and other questions in College Quest’s Behavioral Neuroscience 194 course.


  • Investigate the neural substrates of normal and abnormal behavior, thought and emotion.
  • Actively learn about brain structure and function during hands-on brain dissections.
  • Become familiar with different ways to study brain and behavior.
  • Interact with some of the student and faculty researchers from Western’s Behavioral Neuroscience program.

Course objectives:

  • Understand the basics of the chemical and neural signals neurons use to communicate.
  • Be able to think about specific behaviors in terms of the brain regions that work together to produce them.
  • Appreciate the diversity of approaches that behavioral neuroscientists use to study brain activity and behavior.
  • Appreciate the neural changes that underlie different forms of psychiatric or neurological illnesses.
  • Instructors: Dr. Janet Finlay and Dr. Mike Mana

Registered students receive a program information letter prior to arrival with a full list of what to bring and how to prepare for a successful week.

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Sunday, July 12 or July 19:

2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Check-in
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Student Orientation
4:30  – 5:30 p.m. Campus tour
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Dinner
6:30 – 7:00 p.m. Break
7:00 – 10 p.m. Ice breakers, social activities

Daily Schedule

7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast
9 a.m. – noon Class, assignments
noon Lunch
1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Labs and research
4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Workshops, class assignments
5:15 – 6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:00 p.m. Hall Meeting
8:00 – 10:00 p.m. Social activities and homework time
10:00 p.m. Quiet time in residence hall
11:00 p.m. Lights out


7:00 – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – noon Class
noon – 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Final project presentation
2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Reception and Check-out

*Parents and family are encouraged to attend final presentations. Students are responsible for sharing location and directions with family for their specific presentation.

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Location Details

Western Washington University
516 High St, Bellingham

Getting to Campus:
Bellingham is in Whatcom County, the NW corner of Washington State. It is easily accessible from Interstate 5, major airlines offer flights into Sea-Tac and Bellingham International airport. More logistical travel details provided in program preparation materials.

Explore Campus:
Take a Virtual Campus Tour.
Here is a link to a campus map.

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Cost Details

  • $1,190 – before April 15, 2020 
  • $1,190 – Western faculty, staff and alumni (after April 15, 2020)
  • $1,390 – after April 15, 2020 

Register for both weeks and receive lodging for Fri./Sat. nights and meals between weeks free.

Fees include fully supervised academic programming, lodging, meals, extra-curricular activities.

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Cancellation Policy

Any request for participant cancellation must be made by email to A cancellation request received on or prior to June 14, 2020 will be assessed full refund, minus a $25 fee. There will be no refunds for cancellation requests after June 14, 2020. 

Full refunds with no cancellation fee will be given for any program cancelled by Western.

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Financial assistance is available for this program! Before registering, Apply for financial assistance with the Western Youth Program Financial Assistance application

Additional financial support may be available from Assistance League of Bellingham (deadline mid-March). Find out more here: Assistance League of Bellingham Scholarship

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Western Washington University is conveniently located throughout the Puget Sound and Central Salish Sea regions.

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