Winter is Coming

A curious thing happened yesterday, and it happened again today. On Tuesday, November 19, Walla Walla had a high temperature of 57. It was balmy and rainy, and was almost too warm for the heavier jackets many of us had finally pulled out of the closet after their long rests, donning them in anticipation of the colder months and gradual decline in temperature. I know that I at least was forced to take my jacket off on my morning walk to work, and again as I walked home in the evening.

Then the curious thing happened. The day ended, night set up over a warm Walla Walla, and we all sequestered ourselves in our homes, our apartments, our residence halls and houses. We forgot about the outside, at least for the few hours we were indoors, enjoying the wonders of climate controlled housing. We went to sleep, not thinking too hard about winter or fall or the weather at all. Then, Wednesday, November 20th, Winter, which had been a long time in coming, finally decided to show up. In the space of a day, we went from a high of 57 to a high of 37. Today, Thursday the 21st, we have a high of 34 and a low of 25. Tomorrow, Friday the 22nd, we have a low of 19.

Winter is officially here.

The onset of winter means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For our students from Southern California, where winter temperatures often range in the sixties, this can be a confusing and rather chilly time of year. For students from the east coast and several other midwest states, it’s just a drop in temperature not really worth noticing (side story: I once told a student I was interviewing that it got cold in the winter. When she asked how cold and I told her it would set up around the 30′s and stay there, she laughed at me. She was from northern Minnesota). For all of our students, it means both Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break are just around the corner, respites from the long, hard battle of the Fall Semester.

In the world of admission, winter is exciting on both sides of the desk. For high school students, it means applications are just around the corner (I will admit this might be more nerve-wracking than exciting, but bear with me), with their college admission decisions not far behind. Through the end of November and all of December, the scattered flurries of applications pick up in intensity, escalating into a full on blizzard of submissions to colleges. Essays are edited, letters of recommendation are written, and applications are double, triple, maybe even quadruple checked, all before finally hitting that submit button, or before sealing the envelope, slapping on the postage, and throwing it all in the mailbox before second thoughts can form, lest the envelope be opened and the application worked on even more. It’s a hectic time, a very busy time, and depending on where you are, probably a very cold time.

For us here in the Whitman College Office of Admission, winter means similar things, but it also carries other connotations. To start, it means that the long travel season has come to a close (I apologize for the lack of updates caused by my month on the road). All of us, minus our regional representatives, have found our way back to the office, to home base, where we are now busy both catching up on work and sleep put aside during the month of October, and settling back into our daily routines. It also means, for us, that reading season is just over the horizon. The first of our two Early Decision deadlines just passed, and we’re now sorting through all of the shiny new applications, getting ready to tackle them. In another couple of months, once January hits, we’ll be hunkering down in our offices, bundled up against the cold outside with more applications than you can shake a stick at for company. It’s a hard process, but in many ways it’s also one of the most exciting parts of the job, the next step in the admission cycle as we work towards building the next incoming class, in this instance the class of 2018.

So pull out your winter jackets if you haven’t already, wrap up warm with your favorite scarfs and blankets, and get ready for the winter months. They’ll be cold, of that there’s little doubt, but I can absolutely guarantee they’ll be exciting.

Until next time.

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