Whitman is a small liberal arts college of about 1,500 students in Walla Walla, Washington, about three hours south of Spokane. The most important thing you need to know about eastern Washington is that it is nothing like the western part of the state with regard to the weather. It’s DRY here! I visited in mid-October, and the weather was warm, mid-70’s and very dry. Winter begins around the beginning of November, and the east side of the state does get snow through from about November through February.
Now that we’ve gotten past the weather, here’s what you need to know about Whitman College: students here are smart and multi-faceted. Division III sports means athletes can put their academics first, but still compete at a high level. We met with Admissions Counselor Brian Choe, a Portland native who is also a Whitman alum. He said that Whitman students have an open mind, and are eager to learn, describing them as “Renaissance students.” Students who were in the top 10-20% of their high school classes may be surprised to find they are not the smartest ones here, but as long as they are comfortable asking questions and working through academic problems, they will find a comfortable home at Whitman.
One of the biggest challenges for students here is time management as there is so much going on. The residential life staff have weekly study breaks in the dorms. About 40% of the students are involved in fraternities and sororities, and many students participate in intramural sports. The Harper Joy Theatre opened just a few years at and there are about 8 productions per year – about one a month. In the summer, there’s a Shakespeare production as well. The food is fantastic here – they try to serve local and organic and local farmers come to campus to speak with students about the growing process.
Whitman partners with dozens of Walla Walla organizations and companies to provide internship opportunities for students. These smaller companies and organizations give students more substantive work, so they get real hands-on experience, and no other colleges in the area means no competing for same internships.
Academically, the small class sizes (student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1 and the average class size is 16) give students real motivation to do their work thoroughly. Every department requires a senior comprehensive exam, which could be a written thesis or an oral exam, depending on the department. The largest majors are biology, politics and history. In this tight-knit community, professors go to students’ games and theatre productions. Letters of recommendation for graduate school are strong because professors have the time to really get to know students both in and out of the classroom.
Why would a SoCal student want to come up to Walla Walla for school? Admissions officers at Whitman think that you’ll get to know the same number of students as you would at a big state school, but here you’ll get to know them better. Students come from all over the country, but many hail from Northern California, Portland and the Seattle area. Apply before December 1 and there is no application fee!
You can see all of my photos from my visit to Whitman College here.
Admissions stats: Mid-50% SAT CR: 610-730; M: 610-700; Wr: 610-700
Visit date: October, 2014