Tag Archives: Sadie

May 1

In a few hours, our Admission staff will pack up our work for the day and congregate to celebrate today’s date. As is the case with the vast majority of colleges and universities around the country, today is Whitman’s deposit deadline. This is old news, relatively speaking, to the many students who have contacted us already to let us know of their decision to attend Whitman. 

I love the image of multiple different reply cards of a variety of colors making their way to different institutions around the country. (For many of these institutions, deposits must simply be postmarked by May 1, which means that there are many replies still out there as I type!) Though perhaps somewhat romantic (in the image in my head, these reply cards are magically flying around Harry Potter-style), this day symbolizes a meaningful end to what has been, for both admission officers and for the Whitman Class of 2017, a fairly emotional and lengthy journey.

To our new Whitties who will be joining us next year: what we’ll be celebrating later today, in effect, is not the end of our correspondences with you (those will continue for your next four years here–that’s the beauty of a small school!) but more that today concludes your college search. We are honored that you have found, after much thought and many college visits, that Whitman is where you feel most comfortable. We’re happy that you want to do free laundry here and sit in the quiet room in the library until ungodly hours of the morning. We’re excited that you want to develop our teams, musical groups, outdoor endeavors, and even start some organizations of your own. We are thrilled that you will complete research and make intellectual advancements that this college has yet to see. Finally, we look forward to watching you cultivate life-long friendships with other students whom you have yet to meet.

A final congratulations is most certainly due on this momentous occasion: to the Whitman Class of 2017, welcome!

The Turning of the Tides

The last few weeks have been busy ones for us in the office. As you saw in my last post, our decision letters have already gone out–so we’re currently experiencing a very different kind of energy. High school students from across the country have enjoyed their “spring break” over the last two weeks, making it an excellent time to go look at schools. Now, however, it’s not only the seniors who are looking, visiting many of the wonderful institutions they’ve been admitted to, but also the juniors who are out in full force (and occasionally a sophomore or two!).

I’ve been reflecting recently on why these last few weeks have been so enjoyable. As much as I enjoy a smaller, more intimate information session held in the conference room here in Penrose, there’s also something invigorating about speaking to a group of 30 or 40 visitors. (Perhaps this is just my more theatrical side talking.) But there’s something else that’s special about this time of year, I think, and it has to do with applying all that our work with the newly admitted class has taught us–or perhaps reminded us of–to this next cycle. We are sure to be reminded of things as specific as the importance of sending in your financial aid forms in on time, to more abstract philosophies about why we do the work we do. I’ve asked a few of my fellow admission officers to chime in on how our work with this class of high school seniors has prepared us for this next year.

Bruce Jones, New England Regional Officer: Spring is transitional, in the normal snow-melting/crocuses-sprouting sort of way, but also as I shift from this year’s class to next year’s. It’s 7 a.m. and I’m catching up in my Hampton Inn in White River Junction, VT after a night college fair before heading to Connecticut for more fairs. I’m writing notes to (and answering emails from) admitted students while wondering if I will be writing congrats a year from now to newbies I’m meeting on the road. Spring is slow in coming to this neck of the woods but by May 1, the national reply date for admitted students, spirits will be lifted.

Katherine Buckley, Greater Oregon, WY, and ID representative: While out on the road, I met wonderful prospective Whitman students from religious schools in Seattle, tiny schools in Boston, farming schools in northern California, and outdoor-focused schools in Idaho. It is amazing to see how Whitman is accessible, welcoming, and the right fit for students from so many walks of life.

Tillie Gottlieb, Canada, CO, and the Mid-Atlantic: I think this cycle has made me so much more aware of the resiliency of our young applicants. This year in particular their struggles seemed more numerous and difficult, but I was so impressed by the maturity and clarity of their perspectives regarding hardship. I thank them for inspiring me and reminding me that there is always hope and always the possibility of positive change.

Tony Cabasco, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid: It’s a privilege, truly it is!
In finishing my 20th admission cycle, I reflected on the thousands of applications that have come through the admission office (over 50,000) and the hundreds of thousands of essays that have been read collectively by admission staffs during that period. Each cycle and group of applicants amazes me with the variety of backgrounds, experiences, and stories that they share with the admission staff. These stories of childhood memories, hardships overcome, personal battles won or lost, hopes and dreams for the future, study abroad experiences, epiphanies of many varieties, etc., all delight and move the admission staff. It’s inspiring to see such wonderful energy, creativity, spunk, and sparkle. Whitman is blessed with a wonderful group of applicants every year. It’s truly been a privilege getting to know these young people who are on the verge of coming into their own.

I would be remiss if I did not end on a note to our newly admitted seniors, however. As you move through these next few weeks–likely the last few weeks in your college search process–we hope that you’ve had an opportunity to visit our campus, speak with current Whitties, and visit with professors (or perhaps you’ll be joining us for Admitted Students’ Day on April 20, which will provide an opportunity to do all this and more!). We’ve welcomed each one of you into this community because we know you will have a lasting impact. These next few weeks are certainly full of decision-making and discussions about financial aid packages, program offerings, and locations. Just as we, as admission officers, are poised to begin seeking out a new class of Whitties, you all–the members of Whitman College Class of 2017–are poised to begin to contribute vastly to this community and education. We sincerely hope you choose to do so.

CONGRATULATIONS!

The day that everyone has been waiting for has finally come (and gone): yesterday, we mailed out our admission decisions to our 2,700 applicants. First things first: congratulations to the Class of 2017! What a phenomenal group of individuals you are–we so enjoyed reading your essays and learning more about your accomplishments.

What does mailing day look like, you ask? It begins with a lot of packet stuffing up on the third floor of our beautiful Penrose House. Assembly lines using all available hands are put into place; it’s kind of fun to have our hands on the actual letter headed to a student whose application we read or who we met with in person!

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Finally, it’s time to bring these letters to the post office on campus. This year, the beautiful silver Corolla helped get the job done.

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We couldn’t do any of this without the help of the wonderful mailing team over at Boyer House. They stamp and send out what often adds up to more than eight months of hard work (both on the prospective student as well as the admission office side)–and soon enough, these letters will be in your hands!

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Now it’s your turn for the action. For some advice on receiving college decisions, take a look at this article from the New York Times: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/college-decision-checklist-however-it-arrives-check-your-envelope-at-home/. We read many outstanding applications this year, and unfortunately, due to our competitive pool, we were unable to offer spots to all of those individuals whom these applications represent. You can expect this hard copy of our decision to arrive later this week.

Before signing off, I want to thank each of our applicants on behalf of our entire office for the hard work that was put into these applications. It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly April and time for you all to start making decisions–if you have any questions for us, do not hesitate to give us a call at (509) 527-5176 or email at admission@whitman.edu. We hope that those of you who haven’t had a chance to visit us will come check us out, and we welcome back those who are more familiar with our school and campus!

Congratulations, again, to our newest Whitties!

 

Reading and Waiting

I’m looking out my window at what feels, looks, and smells like a beautiful spring day. Warmer weather is already on its way to Walla Walla, despite the fact that February has just ended. (Hopefully I’m not jinxing anything.) The flowers that are starting to bloom outside of our office are a reminder of something else as well–the fact that it’s been quite a while since we’ve relayed the inner workings of this office to our readers! What have we been doing? Well, we’ve been reading 2,700-odd applications coming from all corners of the country and all across the globe. I’ll admit (and I’m sure that my colleagues would agree) that I’m pretty much ready for the next part of our cycle–the decision making, both on our end and yours–but it’s worth noting that there hasn’t been a single day that I’ve sat down in front of my computer, either in the office, on my couch, or at Patisserie (one of our local coffee shops) that I haven’t enjoyed this part of the process. So far this reading season, applications have brought tears to my eyes (both from joy and sadness), they’ve inspired me, and more importantly, they are the first concrete glimpse of how wonderful our group of applicants is, and in turn, how fantastic the class of 2017 will be.

But while I’ve been reading, you guys have been waiting. I hesitate to mention this benchmark, but we’re just a month away from releasing our decisions (“just a month” may not be a fair categorization–I’m sure for many of you that feels like a long time!). So, how does one wait efficiently? I’m not sure I have the answer. Maybe you’ve started knitting, or cooking, or volunteering; perhaps school work is still occupying much of your time (second semester senior year isn’t always as easy as it sounds!); possibly, even, you’ve found a new passion. Regardless of how you’ve been spending the last few months or so, it’s fair to assume that your accomplishments have also continued. You’re still working on that awesome research project you mentioned in your essay; you’re leading an athletic team to victory; you’ve remained committed as ever to your family responsibilities. This leads me to my next point, and it has to do with the light that’s at the end of what probably feels like a very long tunnel. The unfortunate part of the college process is that it can involve bad news. What I ask all of you to consider closely as the days in March dwindle is that no bad news, coming from any institution, is a statement on your ability to be successful in the next four years. Remember this, and be confident in the abilities that you all have demonstrated to our office and other offices around the country. It will, as they say, all work out in the end!

And until then, enjoy this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd_rDkVQuKM

Financial Aid at Whitman

One of the real pleasures of our work in Penrose House is knowing that we touch the lives of many students. I think I can speak for everyone I work with when I say that we enjoy the opportunity to do community outreach; Marilyn Ponti, our Director of Financial Aid, along with the rest of our fabulous financial aid office, recently conducted a FAFSA and CSS Profile event that I was lucky enough to be involved in. This past Sunday, members of our staff reunited for a similar cause on College Goal Sunday, and helped other members of the community fill out these financial aid forms.

Which brings me to my next point: as we process the final pieces of the applications we have received, Friday, February 1 will bring with it a whole new deadline for us. This is the deadline for application for need-based aid. Those of you who we met on the road or have met us on campus have probably heard that Whitman gives out two types of financial aid: merit-based and need-based. For more information about either, I strongly recommend taking a look at our financial aid website: http://www.whitman.edu/offices-and-services/financial-aid. With the exception of the scholarships that we offer in the areas of art, debate, theater, and music, our merit-based aid requires no additional application. However, February 1 is of the utmost importance for students who have applied to Whitman Regular Decision. If a student is applying for need-based aid, we must have his or her FAFSA and CSS profile by this date. Unfortunately, if we receive these forms after Friday, there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to offer a family financial aid.

We understand that these forms can be confusing and that there are all sorts of intricacies that go along with each student’s situation. Please feel free to reach out to our Office of Financial Aid this week as you arrange to send in these forms, if you haven’t already; our financial aid officers can be reached at (509) 527-5178. And, as always, any admission officer can help you get your questions answered. Here’s to getting one more deadline out of the way!

Reading Playlist

First things first: a very happy 2013 to all of our prospective students and other followers of this blog! The hustle and bustle returned to our office on January 2nd, a day after our Early Decision II deadline.

Though there’s really never a dull time of year as an Admission Officer, this is one of my favorite parts of the cycle; it’s a time when we finally get to put the entire picture together. Students who have visited campus, who we met on our travels, or who we may not have had any contact with at all become much more complete individuals. We learn about your interests, your passions, and in many cases, your quirks. As the applications flood in, here’s a little taste of the tracks that are playing in offices throughout Penrose House.

Esther: “On to the Next One” by Jay-Z
Jee Won: Silence! “I get distracted by the music and start singing along,” she says.
Bruce: “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel
Tillie: Louis Armstrong Pandora station
Katherine: College a Capella

What would you recommend that we put on our reading playlist?

Is there still time to visit campus?

Yes, there is! If you’re planning on applying to Whitman for the two remaining deadlines (Early Decision II on January 1, or Regular Decision on January 15) and you haven’t yet visited, keep in mind that we continue to schedule visits through January! Our office will reopen on January 2nd. Call us toll-free at (877) 462-9448 or schedule a visit online via the following link: http://www.whitman.edu/admission/visit/schedule-a-visit.

If you’ve just recently discovered us or you know you won’t be able to make it to Walla Walla before the admission deadline that you’re applying for, that’s okay, too. Visits continue through the spring, and culminate in an Admitted Students Day in April. If you haven’t already interviewed with a member of our staff, you may want to contact your admission representative about the possibility of scheduling a phone or Skype interview. (You can find the list of officers and our contact information here: http://www.whitman.edu/admission/contact-us).

So don’t be nervous! Go ahead and press submit on the Common App. And as always, contact us if you have any questions about your application!

The Essay

Perhaps the most elusive part of a college application is the essay. “The essay,” or the Personal Essay as it’s officially titled on the Common Application, is different than most. There is no required reading, no maximum or minimum number of quotes to be used, no textual or numerical analysis necessary. Make no mistake about it, writing this essay takes hard work. I have memories of writing and re-writing drafts of my own college essay. More than anything else, I remember my frustration when my counselor told me to start over (twice) after I handed in two different drafts that, quite frankly, I thought were excellent essays. The draft of mine that she ultimately supported was one that I cared very little for at first; then, as I put more and more of myself into it, that topic, too, became my favorite.

What should I write about? What are the do’s and don’t’s of college essays? These are questions that everyone in our office has heard more than once. It’s only natural to feel challenged by the essay, but the single most important do is to let who you are come through in your writing. The main don’t? Avoid writing an essay that you think an admission officer wants to read. Submitting an essay that says very little about you, while trying to impress us, is a hazardous move. Instead, consider what the intrinsic elements of YOU are. (Hint: your transcript and test scores won’t help us much with this!) Use these few pages of writing to give us an additional window into you as a person. This might come in the form of writing about a success, a failure, a mentor, a hobby, a location, an event…and there are many more topics out there! Be thoughtful with your writing–have a teacher or another individual you’re close to read it over. But let your voice come through in style and vocabulary; this is your writing, and no one else’s.

And know, that ultimately, this is just a piece of the puzzle. We have a holistic view of applications for a reason: you are more than just your writing, or your test scores, or your GPA. It’s the real, live people who make this community what it is.

What We’re Thankful For

The campus is somewhat quieter this week; many students have headed to the homes of friends or family for the week-long break. As we prepare for our Penrose House Thanksgiving Potluck, it feels like the perfect moment to reflect on what it is about Whitman and the work that we do that we’re thankful for.

For those of you who have read our Admission Staff blog posts over the last four months, you’ve seen us move from a summer filled with visitors, to a fall filled with travel, to the beginning of application reading season (a big congratulations to all of our Early Decision I applicants who submitted their applications last week!). This half of the year doesn’t always allow for a lot of time to reflect, but today, several of the admission officers have taken a moment to share what they’re grateful for.

John Loranger, Seattle Regional Officer: I’m thankful for a job that has given me the opportunity to see corners of the country I may never have visited otherwise, and that we live in a place where having a Thanksgiving feast composed entirely of local food is ridiculously easy!

Tony Cabasco, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid: I’m thankful travel season is over!

Robert Street, Assistant Dean of Admission: I am thankful for being surrounded by such engaging and super cool students that motivate me to do the work that I do!

Sadie Nott, Admission Officer: I’m thankful that I’m a part of an institution that breeds young people who are ready and eager to make a difference in the smallest of communities or the most global of senses. It definitely rubs off on the rest of the Whitman community!

Tillie Gottlieb, Admission Officer: I’m grateful that after a grueling travel season and a somewhat eternal reading season, I get to see all of my students begin their life at Whitman- see them in plays, play sports, run for ASWC, or do radio shows etc. etc. I’m also grateful that I get to walk 2 blocks to work and then spend the day with coworkers I love!

So, a big thank you to all you students out there (our readers!) who make enjoying the work we do so easy! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

The Early Decision I Application Deadline Draws Near!

Many of you prospective students out there are likely editing, re-reading and putting the finishing touches on your application to Whitman this week. Thursday, November 15 is our first admission deadline of the season, and it is one of two opportunities that students have to apply to Whitman prior to our Regular Decision deadline (Jan. 15). (Coincidentally, November 15 is also my birthday; I like to brag that I receive more “presents” on my birthday than anyone else I know!) Choosing one of these two Early Decision opportunities, the second of which is January 1, is a great option for the student that knows Whitman is their first choice; it’s important not to confuse these deadlines with Early Action (a non-binding decision).

Given that the Early Decision I deadline is a mere week away, I thought I would take a moment to discuss some important reminders.

1) Financial Aid: Remember that if you are applying to Whitman ED I and applying for need-based aid, you will also need to submit the CSS Profile by November 15. (The FAFSA, the second form that we require, will not be accessible until January 1.) All students who receive financial aid will be notified of their aid packages along with their acceptance letters in the mail, so students need not be concerned that applying early means that they won’t be able to receive merit or need-based aid from Whitman. In fact, the package that a student receives for an Early Decision deadline will be the same package that he or she would have received for Regular Decision. However, Regular Decision can often be the better fit for families that want to rely on the opportunity to compare financial aid packages from different schools.

2) You can expect to receive a response from us by December 21. Given that our Early Decision options are binding, one benefit to choosing this route is that you’ll know where you stand only about a month after submitting your application.

3) The application, of course! Make sure you proofread your application. Ask someone–a parent, a counselor, a teacher, or another individual you’re close to–to read over your essay and supplement; sometimes they may catch something you didn’t see yourself! If you have any questions about the Common App or Whitman Supplement, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Best of luck, students! We look forward to reading your applications (and thanks in advance for making my birthday a special one).