Tag Archives: Alana

We’re on the Road!

It’s travel season for us in the admission office, which means that we might be visiting your high school! For some of you, this will be your first interaction with our staff and your first opportunity to ask questions.  We hope you will make the most of this time and have prepared some tips to help facilitate a meaningful discussion.

Step One: Are you visiting my town?

Check our website to see if we travel to your town.  This travel schedule is updated throughout the fall, so if your hometown is not listed now, that may change in the future. Check back throughout the fall for changes.

Step Two: Are you visiting my school?

• If you have been in contact with our office prior to our visit, we will mail you a visit schedule for your state. If you have not been in contact with us, please be sure to check with your college or career center to see when Whitman might be visiting. Your counselor should have a list of colleges that will be making trips to your school and the times and days representatives will be on campus.

Step Three: How do I prepare for your visit?

• Do some research on our website so that you know what follow up questions you have about the application process, majors, campus life, or Whitman, in general.
• Many schools require students to officially sign up to attend college representative presentation visits. If your school does operate under that policy, make sure that you sign up ahead of time so that we know to expect you.
• Some of you will be missing class in order to attend our presentations. If you need to be excused, be sure to attain permission from your teacher beforehand.

Step Four: What should I expect from your visit?

• Visit presentations vary by college, but Whitman’s presentation includes general information about the college, as well as a question and answer session at the end. During a visit, you will also be able to sign up to receive further information from Whitman College relating to specific areas of interest.

Step Five: What do I do after you visit?

• If you are a senior, think about interviewing. Whitman offers a number of interviews on the road if you cannot make it to campus
• If you liked what you heard in the presentation and want to learn more, a great next step is to visit campus . Many students find that seeing the place in person helps them to better picture themselves as Whitman students.

While this step-by-step list is by no means exhaustive, I hope that this outline of what to expect from college visits is helpful to you as you begin to learn more about Whitman College.


Thinking About Letters of Recommendation

So, it’s the summer before your senior year, college applications loom in your future, and everyone is telling you to spend the summer working on college essays. While it’s not a bad idea to devote some time to this project, an often overlooked portion of the college application is the letter of recommendation. At Whitman, we only require one letter of recommendation, but many schools do require more. It would behoove you to think about which teachers would make the best letter writers for your Whitman application. Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Which teacher have I gotten to know the best in the last three years?
  2. Who could best speak to my ability as both a student and a person?
  3. How well could this teacher speak to my academic drive?

Hopefully, the same teacher’s name will answer all three of these questions. If you are submitting more than one letter of recommendation, it would benefit your application to have the teachers who could address these questions write letters for you.

You will also want to consider the academic subjects your letters writers represent. Whitman’s teacher recommendation requires you to submit your one letter of recommendation from a core academic teacher – meaning someone who taught you math, science, social studies, English, or a foreign language. If you submit more than one letter, be sure that these letters are not from two English or two math teachers. Most likely, teachers of the same subject will say very similar things about you, so submitting one English teacher recommendation and one math teacher recommendation would provide a more well-rounded picture of who you are as a student. Be sure to pick people with varied perspectives. When I applied to Whitman, I had my physics and my English teachers write letters. At the end of the day, you want to find the one (or two) who will best represent you.

From the Desk of the Visit Scholarship Program Coordinator

What the heck is the Visit Scholarship Program? I think I’ve been asked that question almost weekly since taking over the position of Visit Scholarship Program Coordinator last September. To answer that question, the Visit Scholarship Program (VSP) seeks to bring students whose backgrounds and experiences offer varying perspectives on living and learning in a multicultural world to our campus. VSP recipients represent underrepresented socioeconomic, racial or cultural backgrounds and demonstrate a desire to contribute to diverse discussions on campus. Recipients are awarded an all expenses paid trip to Whitman College where they are able to explore all of the great opportunities our campus has to offer.

Having just completed my first cycle of the VSP, I can tell you that many highly qualified and greatly interested students were able to visit campus, thanks to the VSP. Just over half of the students who visited this past spring will be matriculating students come this fall. We’re so excited to have them join out incoming class of 2014 and know they will be major contributors in diverse conversations happening on campus in the years to come.

If you are a rising senior who thinks this opportunity sounds right up your alley, think about applying for one of the 2010 VSP trips. Rising seniors are eligible to apply for the Fall 2010 visit dates using the online application which will be available starting in August. If you are interested in this awesome opportunity, please check back in August for more information. You can also learn more about the VSP and other scholarship opportunities on our website.

I hope to see just as many great students apply for the VSP in this coming academic year as I had apply in past year. If you have follow up questions over the summer, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to working with many of you in the coming year!

What’s your story?

What’s your story? I think every application I read has a story to tell. Sometimes they come from the student in the form of a personal essay, sometimes from the counselor‘s notes, or from a teacher’s letter of recommendation. Finding the stories is part of what makes application reading interesting to me.  Clearly, reading through a student’s transcript, GPA, test scores, and extra-curricular activities is important, but as a bibliophile and a once-English-major, my favorite part of the application is always the personal essay. To me, the best essays come from the heart. They tell stories of triumph over adversity, or abject failure which propagates growth, or even a seemingly mundane task such as setting the dinner table or tuning an instrument. For students who write on a topic they feel passionate about, that enthusiasm translates, regardless of the topic. The well crafted essay hooks me with the excitement of its writer, much more than the content of its words.

Unfortunately, not all of the personal essays I read are about topics of interest – to me, or to the students writing them. Nothing ruins a good personal essay than a student who has chosen to write on a topic they care very little about, but think I want to read. Thankfully, those essays are few and far between, but nonetheless, an aspect of application-reading I could do without.

What about the application process could you have done without? What was your favorite part about writing your personal essay? Did you learn something about yourself? Did you struggle? Or did the story flow naturally from your fingers onto the screen? I would love to hear the stories you have to tell about writing the stories I enjoy reading!

What is it like being from far away?

“Why do you want to go 3,000 miles away for college?” My mother must have asked me that question on a weekly basis throughout the entirety of my senior year of high school. While Whitman College is actually 2,983 miles from my home, my mother’s 17-mile over-exaggeration did nothing to dispel for feeling of foreignness the distance evoked in my 17-year old self. Growing up on the small island of Kaua’i, deep in the Pacific Ocean, I never found reason to leave my small corner of the world for more than 3 weeks prior to my departure for college. So, why then, did I apply almost exclusively to West Coast schools, giving up the lush, tropical heat and familiarity of a vast network of interconnected people? Like many high school seniors, I hoped college would provide me with a wealth of opportunities to explore, from which I’d garner an overabundance of experiences and figure out what I wanted from the world. What I found 2,983 miles from all that I knew was so much more than an understanding of what I wanted from the world, but a deep and meaningful realization of all I could offer to the world. I realize now that I could not have come to this understanding by relegating myself to the familiarity of what I’d always known.

For me, college was never a choice. Coming from a family where neither of my parents completed degrees at a four-year institution, it was instilled at an early age that more was expected of me. My parents did everything to provide me with the opportunities they were not afforded, but it was up to me to put in the hard work, to take the rigorous courses offered at my school, and to involve myself in service activities for which I was passionate. The small island of Kaua’i does not have any 4-year schools, so I’d always know I’d be leaving home for school. My line of thinking was: “Since I’m leaving anyway, why confine my search to in-state schools?”

Like many high school students, I cast my net wide, but eventually decided that several West Coast schools were the best fit for me, both academically and geographically. Out of the five schools I applied to, Whitman College out in Walla Walla, Washington drew me in the most because the familiarity of a supportive community appealed to me. Knowing that I would be heavily dependent on financial aid, I spent the majority of my senior year of high school trying to convince myself that any of the five schools I had applied to would provide me with an excellent education. However, by the time admittance letters began to arrive, Whitman was buoyed by rave reviews and found its way to the top of my list. From alumni to the random people I would meet in the grocery store that had some distant connection to an alumnus, I heard nothing but glowing recommendations about the small school in the Southeast corner of Washington state.

Looking back the six years it has been since I was a senior in high school, I know I would have gotten a decent education at any of the institutions to which I had applied, but what cannot be duplicated is the enthusiasm and loyalty of Whitman students. Leaving the community of my small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I found another community, willing and waiting to accept me, support me, and inevitably, provide me with the tools to be an active citizen of the world. Hawai’i is where I’m from and it will always hold the title of home, but by challenging myself, to explore schools away from home, I was able to travel the world, gain perspective, and eventually earn myself a BA in English and an MA in Teaching. Now, when I go home to visit family, I’m asked: “Did you have to go 3,000 miles away to get a good education?” No, but I did have to travel 2,983 miles to find the education that was right for me.