I wrote a few weeks ago that travel season had begun, and now it is surely upon us! We at the Office of Admission have now reached a time of year where we’re lucky if half of the officers are in the office. Though it’s a time of much transition for us, it’s also extremely exciting. Katherine Buckley, Tony Cabasco and I recently returned from an exhilarating week in Seattle where we visited 18 high schools and met hundreds of students. I felt like I was on a roll; we moved from parking lot to college office, speaking about Whitman to both individual students but also to groups as large as sixty. The excitement coming from the prospective students we speak with is the contagious part–after all, we love travel season because it means we get to meet many of you!
So, what to do with these interspersed weeks (or in many cases, days) at home? They become much more than time to catch up on emails and phone calls in the office; the purpose they serve goes further than to simply “reboot.” Fall at Whitman is full of campus vigor, both a confirmation of all that we have shared on the road as well as the source of a whole new group of activities and stories that we will put in our pockets for when we head out on the road again. Though I missed the Instant Play Festival, I can’t wait to attend a talk by Isabel Wilkerson, the author of this year’s summer read The Warmth of Other Suns. I smile when I read about President George Bridges’ birthday wishes to first-year Maya Volk (check out the full story by clicking on this link: http://www.whitman.edu/content/news/mayavolk ). While I’ve been gone, flag football games have started in full force and provide some excellent entertainment. These are just a few of the stories that will find their way into the next high schools I visit.
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!
As you and your family try and determine when and if to visit your favorite colleges, of which Whitman is obviously one (for here you are), I’ve compiled a few thoughts to assist you in the process. Know that I am unabashedly of the opinion that you ought to visit the colleges and universities you are most strongly considering, because I’m a firm believer that “fit,” often defined by intangible and difficult-to-articulate qualities in prospective students’ own perceptions of a campus, is one of the singular most important facets to your college search. Feel and fit are best gleaned from experiencing a place and a people for yourself.
The first major determination to be made is to decide if you and your family will make visits before application deadlines (sometime prior to the November, December, or January cut offs for receiving applications at respective institutions), or after you receive your admission decisions (April). Some colleges may fall into the former camp, others into the latter. Consider that for certain of your reach-schools, it might carry financial incentive to wait until you hear back from the college before spending the money traveling thereto. On the other hand, you might not want to cram all your college visits into the few weeks or weekends open to you in April. Visiting in the late Spring also carries with it the intangible disadvantage of postponing the decision – some students (and some parents) may want to have a good sense for their short list of favorites much earlier than two weeks before deposits are due. On the whole, these are decisions for you to make as a family.
Another major question is what type of visit experience you want. You can schedule an individualized visit almost any time during the academic calendar, you may opt for a scheduled campus program such as one of our Fall Visitors Days, or you can visit when the College may not be in session. The logical drawback to visiting during a College break (which deters many families) is that you might miss the opportunity to visit classes, see the students “in their natural habitat,” interact with professors, etc. The major divide more often lies between visiting on a Visit Day or some other time. In fact, it’s such a substantial question, I’m devoting an entire post just to this quandary.
Should you visit on your own terms or on planned Visit Days / “open houses” at your favorite colleges?
An individualized tour provides a number of visit options. You are much more likely to see the natural state of the campus and student body. You will have better chances of small information sessions or even interviews / meetings with your Admission Officer. You are similarly going to be more likely to see actual classes on campus. You might be able to stay overnight and are more likely to be able to eat with current students in the residence halls. And the list goes on – thus is the “individual” nature of this kind of visit.
On the other hand, visiting on a Visitors’ Day (like the one coming up next Friday, November 12) also affords you some special opportunities. We are more able to pull together key leaders across campus, be they staff from the Intercultural Center to Athletics, or faculty from Biology to Asian Studies, and provide you with access to an array of common interests explored and questions answered. In a room full of prospective students and families, that question about Financial Aid you forgot might very well be asked by someone beside you. Finally, and perhaps most exciting, is the prospect of meeting not just current Whitman staff, faculty, and students, but a great many potential future classmates!
Whitman offers several of these types of visitor events. We offer two Fall Visitors’ Day, often most attended by current high school seniors finishing up their reconnaissance of prospective colleges before they complete the last of their applications. Younger students often attend these as well, to get ahead of the game. We also offer a very similar Spring Visitors’ Day in early April, in this case more commonly attended by current high school juniors getting an early jump on their college search. Finally, Admitted Students’ Day in mid-April affords applicants who are at the end of their college search and have been offered admission to Whitman the opportunity to see campus one more time. This is often a particularly exciting Saturday because it has so much less to do with stats and figures, staff and faculty, even the Admission Office itself – it’s all about the students! These talented young women and men know they are admitted, they know the choice is theirs now, and they come to see what their future class at Whitman could be like. It’s a wonderfully vital and invigorating weekend!
What is best for you or your family is really a question only you can answer. Many of the benefits of the individual visit – such as class visits, overnight stays, and interviews with Admission Officers – are impossible to offer on a Visitors’ Day due to simple numbers and capacity limits. And the verve and momentum of a hundred prospective students generated naturally on a big Visitors’ Day is equally impossible to manufacture if you visit on a solitary afternoon in early December. It’s all about fit and feel, even at this stage of the process. What is right for you?
Hear-ye, hear-ye! Admitted students of the Whitman College Class of 2014, you’re invited to attend Admitted Students’ Day on Saturday, 17 April 2010. Registration gets started at 7:45, with the program starting at 8:15. Admitted Students will be able to take a campus tour, attend a sample class, and learn about student life and co-curricular opportunities at Whitman.
Sample classes include:
“How Green was my Mutant”
“To Infinity! And…Beyond?”
“Our Violent Past: reconstructing Earth’s earliest history”
I hope to see you all out here in Walla Walla. The weather is looking good! Make sure you bring a change of clothes if you’d like to play some Ultimate, or dig around in the Organic Garden. Write a story with the Whitman Pioneer or get on the air with KWCW, our student-run radio station. You can also see the varsity baseball and club rugby teams in action. Oh, and lunch is on us!
We do hope you’ll take the time out of your busy lives to experience life at Whitman!
Top five questions for juniors to ask when visiting colleges
- “What type of student is successful at your college or university?”
- “What do your students do for fun?”
- “What other schools do students applying to your school typically consider in their college search?”
- “What are the top five majors at your college or university?”
- “If you could change one thing about your college or university, what would that be?”
Questions to avoid asking while visiting colleges
- “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?”
- “If my Mom went here do I automatically get in?”
- “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.
- “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.