Tag Archives: Katie

Useful Tips for the College Admission Process

Ever wonder what college admissions officers really think about SAT scores, college essays and emails from students? Well you’re in luck! The writers from Woman’s Day Magazine talked to admission officers across the country and compiled a list of ten useful tips for the admission process.

We hope this will answer a few of your questions about the application process. Reading this article may also produce some questions and we’d be happy to answer them for you. Check out our list of admission staff and email the officer assigned to your hometown.

Can I still visit campus during December and January?

Of course you can! December and January are great times to visit Whitman College. The campus is often blanketed in beautiful white snow and our grounds crew does a fantastic job of keeping the walk ways cleared for our tours.

From December 6 – December 22 and January 3 – January 21 prospective students are welcome to visit campus and attend a campus tour and information session. If you’re a senior or transfer student we encourage you to sign up for an interview with an admission officer while you’re on campus.

The Office of Admission will be closed from December 23 – January 2 so we can rest up to read all of your applications in January and February. Speaking of applications don’t forget Whitman’s Early Decision 2 application deadline is January 1 and the Regular Decision deadline is January 15!

Submit your application online today at www.commonapp.org!

Early Decision FAQ

1.  What is Early Decision exactly?

Early Decision is an early application option available to students who have discovered their first choice College or University. Typically the application deadlines for Early Decision are in early November and December. Applying to a school Early Decision is also a binding application. An additional form called the Early Decision Agreement must also be submitted by the applicant in order to apply. This agreement states that “students make a commitment to a first-choice institution where, if admitted, they definitely will enroll.” (2010-2011 Early Decision Agreement) students will be notified of their admission decision in December or January. This could mean that, if admitted to their first choice school, students could be finished with the college admission process by mid-February.

2.  How do I know if I should apply Early Decision?

If a student is certain that a school is their first choice and they want to attend that institution more than any other they should apply Early Decision. This is typically the result of extensive research and in most cases a visit to the campus. It is very difficult to determine if a school is your first choice and you want to apply Early Decision without visiting the campus and experiencing it for yourself. If a school is your number one choice but you cannot commit to it above all other schools then you should consider not applying Early Decision.

3.  Can I apply to other schools?

Students applying Early Decision can only have one Early Decision application pending at one time. Students are encouraged to prepare applications and submit them to additional schools for Regular Decision or Early Action as a precaution in case they are not offered admission to the school at which they applied Early Decision. You can think about it this way, if you were to apply to two schools Early Decision and were accepted to both, how could you be in two places at once come next fall?

4.  What is the benefit of applying Early Decision?

The true benefit of applying Early Decision is you have the potential of being finished with the college application process by mid-February and you will be accepted by your first-choice school. While some acceptance rates are higher in Early Decision then Regular Decision, that is not the primary reason to apply Early Decision.

5.  Will my financial aid be better if I apply Early Decision?

At Whitman College, a student’s need based financial aid package is in no way influenced by the application deadline they use for admission. All admitted students can expect to see an identical financial aid package when applying for Early Decision or Regular Decision. No preference is given to Early Decision applicants in regards to financial aid.

Attending a Spring College Fair?

Do take a lap around the entire fair to simply see what colleges and universities are represented.

Do walk up to a table, flip through the materials a bit and take one without asking a question.  If you don’t have any questions, but would like to look through our publications on your own that is perfectly fine.

Don’t feel obligated to ask a question.  Only ask a question if you genuinely want to learn something about our college or university.

Don’t swipe pens from as many tables as you can.  If you need or want a pen just ask.

Do ask questions yourself instead of having your parents ask for you.  If your parents have their own questions, they’re welcome to speak with us, but we’d always prefer to speak with the student directly.

Do present the best version of yourself at the college fair.  You don’t need to dress formally but we want to remember your questions not your inappropriate clothing or actions.

Do bring sticker labels with your full name, address, phone number, email address and high school printed on them.  This will save your hand from filling out dozens of inquiry cards.

Don’t spend more then five minutes at a table.  Admission officers will talk to as many as 200 students at a college fair and we can not spend thirty minutes with each one.  If you have additional questions ask the admission officer for their business card and email or call with your questions.

Do ask about the opportunity to interview with an admission person if you plan to apply to that college or university.

Do keep an open mind, your future college could be right under your nose!

When Juniors Visit Campus

Top five questions for juniors to ask when visiting colleges

  1. “What type of student is successful at your college or university?”
  2. “What do your students do for fun?”
  3. “What other schools do students applying to your school typically consider in their college search?”
  4. “What are the top five majors at your college or university?”
  5. “If you could change one thing about your college or university, what would that be?”

Questions to avoid asking while visiting colleges

  1. “Do you have a good program?”  It’s ok to ask an admission officer about a program you’re interested in, but do so in a more constructive fashion.  For example, “Do biology majors get time in the lab?” or “What is the focus of your psychology major?”
  2. “If my Mom went here do I automatically get in?”
  3. “Where are the parties on campus?”  It’s perfectly fine to ask about the social outlets on campus but consider how you phrase a question before asking it.
  4. “What is the lowest GPA I can have to get into your college or University?”  Instead of asking for the lowest GPA consider asking the average or median GPA of last year’s entering class.

Essay Tips and Tricks

Scene: You’re sitting glassy eyed, staring at your laptop. The curser is blinking and all you can think is “Admission officers read thousands of personal essays every year, how do I make mine stand out?” Well never fear young grasshopper, the Office of Admission at Whitman College is here to give you a few tips to help you find a great essay topic.

Reading personal essays is my favorite part of the application review process. It is the only time when I hear about the student directly from the best source, you! Thus, use this opportunity not to impress, but rather to enlighten me with something that you are chomping at the bit to share.

Some of my favorite essays over the years have been on topics that I personally have no interest in learning about, such as Star Wars, minor league baseball and snakes. But the student who wrote these essays were not trying to impress me with their Jedi knowledge or their pitching speed, instead they were sharing why these topics mean something to them. Admission officers typically do not read essays more then once, there just simply isn’t enough time in the day, but if an essay truly stands out we find the time to read it again, simply for the enjoyment of reading. This was the case with the three topics listed above even though I try to spend as little time thinking about snakes as possible!

Whitman College suggested Dos and Don’ts for College Admission Essays:

–  Do risk sharing something important to you; it will pay off in the end.

–  Do refrain from writing how you talk to your friends. Let your own voice speak through your essay.

–  Don’t just tell me you went on a mission/community service trip; tell me why you went and what you discovered.

–  Do write about a topic you’re interested in, it sure makes the writing process easier.

–  Don’t write non-fiction or creative pieces for your personal essay. If you want your creative writing viewed as a part of your application, include it as additional information.

–  Do have a friend, teacher or counselor read your essay once before hitting submit.

–  Don’t try to impress me, simply be honest and you will make an impression.

If after reading this blog you still find yourself stuck without a great topic I offer one last suggestion. Answer the following question:

If your house was burning down and you only had time to grab one thing from your bed room, what would it be?

Now think about that item, why did you pick it? Consider its significance to you, and if it’s something you would like to share in an essay. I asked a student this question last fall and she responded with the following, “I would grab a picture of my younger sister.” When I asked her why that picture was important she responded, “Because I’ve grown up in a single parent household and I’ve had to look after my sister.” This student’s essay topic ended up being about how she looked up to her Mom for raising three successful children on her own. We got all that from a picture of her sister. Let the item steer you down different paths, one will lead to your essay topic.