Category Archives: Admission Office

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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5 Things to Look Forward to in the Coming Months (From the Whitman College Office of Admission)

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Hello all, and welcome once again to the Whitman Admission Blog! It’s been a crazy hectic couple of weeks here in the office, and not just because of the gradual increase in students visiting campus. Fall, as I’ve talked about before, is in full swing at this point, and that means some exciting things happening (apart from just the crazy weather we’ve been having). With that in mind, I wanted to take some time share some of the things I’m most excited about, and that you might find fun and interesting as well. Below is a list of 5 things you can look forward to coming from the Whitman College Office of Admission, and Whitman College in general, in the coming days, weeks, and months!

5) Overnight Visits!

If you’re a prospective college student, chances are you’ve already been exposed to the idea of overnight visits, and might already know what they entail. For those of you who don’t, however, an overnight visit is something we offer to seniors who want to get a bit more of a taste of campus life, and really dig into the culture of the college by staying with a student host for night. It’s an incredibly cool process, is often the deciding factor for students making their college decisions, and, now that the school year is in full swing, we are able to offer them after the long summer break! Want to sign up for an overnight? Simply go to the Schedule a Visit section of our website and follow the steps outlined there!

4) Lunch Hosting!

Much like with Overnight Visits, which are put on hold over the summer while our students are away, Lunch With Current Students gives you the opportunity to meet and talk with current Whitman students in order to get a feel for Whitman’s campus community. Going to be on campus for a tour or an interview? Sign up to talk with current Whitties (and get a taste of our excellent dining hall food) while you’re at it!

3) Fall Visitors’ Day!

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Okay, so this one is still a ways off (November 12th to be precise), but it’s still really exciting to think about. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to visit campus yet, or if you’ve already been but want to come join in on the festivities, Fall Visitor’s Day is an excellent opportunity to tour the campus, meet with staff and faculty, and even sit in on panels about academics, sports, and other programs Whitman has to offer. Want to know more? Come check out our Fall Visitor’s Day webpage, and check out the full list of activities!

2) Intern Blogs!

If you actively follow this blog, or if you just happen to pop in and check for updates from time to time, you may have noticed something: updates often come sporadically (although I have been trying to create a more regular schedule), what with how busy we Admission Officers often are throughout the year. In order to help alleviate the problem of sometimes sparse content, we have enlisted the help of our Senior Admission Interns, who will be posting on a weekly basis from here on out. This week marks the first week our new interns will be posting, and I myself am super excited to announce that their blogs will soon be up and running! Image

(Above is a photo I snagged of two of our interns hard at work on their first posts). Be on the lookout for those blogs as they come out! They’ll be posting a lot of good content, which is nice, since Whitman’s Admission Officers (myself included) will soon be…1) On the Road!

This is in many ways the biggest part of the Fall for us as Admission Officers. I talked a bit about this a while back, but at that point in time it was largely conceptual – we were still in the planning phases, the early steps, the thought of travel only just beginning to surface from the long summer months of sleep. Now, however, travel season is upon us. If they haven’t hit your town, high school, or area already, Whitman College Admission Officers will soon be making visits, holding interviews, and attending college fairs, all right in your back yard! To find out who will be in your area, and where we will be visiting, check out our Whitman on the Road page for more information!

That’s all for today. Look out for both our Senior Admission Intern blogs, as well as another post later this week as a followup to a personal favorite series of posts from last year! Until then, may Fall be ever in your favor.

They Came, They Saw, They Moved In (Move In Day, Part 2)

August 29th came and went. In many parts of the world, it was an ordinary Thursday. People woke up, they sipped their coffee, slowly pulling themselves from the embrace of sleep, prepping themselves for the day of work ahead. They went about their lives, thinking, in all probability “I’m so glad tomorrow is Friday.” It was a standard day, a boring day even, for most of the world.
But for Whitman College, August 29th was anything but a standard day. For us, here on the Whitman campus, it was a day filled with motion and emotion, excitement, energy, and activity. For us, it was Move In Day!
Yesterday, August 29th, 2013, the incoming Class of 2017 dropped the “incoming” from their identity as they began to put down new roots in the fertile grounds of the Whitman campus, moving into their residence halls, meeting new roommates, starting to get a feel for the life of a college student, and generally, schlepping lots and lots of stuff from their cars to their new rooms.

All told, it was a pretty exciting day, both for students and for staff and faculty. It was the start of the new academic year in so many ways, and for a pretty good portion of the Whitman staff and faculty (myself included) it brought back memories of our own college Move In Days.

Below, you’ll find some pictures of the proceedings, some of which were taken by a professional and can be found on Whitman’s Flickr account, and some of which were taken by staff in the Office of Admission as the day progressed. See if you can tell which ones are which! (Hint: the photos I took look substantially less professional).

Enjoy!

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I hope you enjoyed viewing the photos and living vicariously through our new student’s experiences! And of course, if you are a new student reading this, or a parent or family member of a new student: Welcome to Whitman College! It’s going to be an incredible year.

Next week, campus life starts picking back up with the start of classes! Join us then as we start taking a closer look at both what the Admission Office is doing while the new students are settling in!

Coming Soon, to a High School/College Fair Near You

While the last couple entries on this blog have focused a bit more on the downtime in the Admission cycle, those few quiet months of repose, rest, and preparation for the new year, this post is going to focus on something different. This post is going to focus, quite specifically, on gearing up for the start of the new school year.

While it’s true that the office is still fairly quiet – there are of course plenty of visitors coming through on a daily basis, experiencing the campus, taking tours, sitting in on information sessions, and engaging in interviews with our admission staff – the real weight of the admission season is starting to poke its head up over the horizon. The excitement and activity of the new year is starting to dawn, and with it comes a stirring of new activity, both on the student end of things and on our side of the desk as well. While students start realizing their summer is slowly coming to a close (if you’re a student and reading this, keep making the most of it while it lasts!), Admission Officers are beginning to look forward to one of the busiest, and ostensibly most exciting parts of our year.

Travel Season!

From the middle of September to about the middle of November, Admission Officers both in our office and all over the country are in constant motion, planning trips to conferences, to college fairs, to high schools, getting in contact with high school counselors, with eager and excited students, flying all across the country, and in some instances across the globe.  The life of an Admission Officer is an exciting one, and not just because we get to work with bright and interesting students. We get to see all parts of the country, have the opportunity to experience a range of cultures, and ultimately, get to meet people from all sorts of walks of life, all while representing our respective colleges, and more importantly, the value of higher education.

So what does this mean on the student end of things? Put simply, it means that fairly shortly, there’s a pretty good chance an Admission Officer will be traveling to an area near you, giving you the opportunity to make contact with a college representative. This could be in the form of a high school visit, it could be in the form of touching base with an Officer at a college fair, or it could be at one of the many off campus interviews we offer to students in our respective areas. Most importantly of all, this means that you get to have your questions and your concerns answered, and that you have the opportunity to get a taste for a college without ever stepping foot on the campus. For many students this is their first contact with a college. For others, it’s a continuing conversation, another step on the road to going to college.

For us, the Admission Officers of the world, it’s an opportunity to get in touch with hundreds of new students, and hopefully to influence their lives for the better.

So, as September starts shaking the sleep off from its annual eleven month nap, and as you begin brushing the cobwebs off of your school supplies, pulling them out from that dark and dusty corner they’ve been relegated to since the start of the summer, be on the lookout for a college representative near you! Remember to check out the admission section of our website at whitman.edu for updates on who will be in your area visiting high schools and conducting college interviews. And in the meantime, just know that we’re looking forward to seeing you all soon.

 

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?

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.