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I'm a current freshman! Any questions?

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Replies to: I'm a current freshman! Any questions?

  • bopambobopambo Posts: 987Registered User Member
    Aloha AlohaScott, I'm glad to hear that your D visited Whitman, and I'm sorry that she wasn't able to see the school in session, because at least some of your questions would have been answered by seeing how lively the campus is when students are present. Whitman attracts students who are incredibly gregarious and active people; the school provides lots of interesting things to do on campus; and the students themselves create many new groups, clubs and projects, often funded by the administration. The question for my son has never been finding things to do, but not overdoing it with activities. Weekends there are sports (loads of club and intramural participation), music, dance performances, parties, art shows, movies, community service projects, biking, outdoor club outings, skiing, etc. Walla Walla has really good restaurants, it's own dance and theater companies, the county fair and other local entertainment.

    The councilor was just plain wrong about air travel, there is an airport in Walla Walla with 2 daily flights from Seattle, although it's expensive, it's there. The more affordable option is the airport in Pasco which has many flights per day from all over the western US. Pasco is 45 minutes from Walla Walla and there is bus service from the Pasco airport to Walla Walla several times a day, it drops students downtown, about 4 blocks from campus. I've even gone that way and it's not at all difficult. The students on campus with cars (and there are a lot of them) often give rides to and from the Pasco airport to fellow Whitties. We live in the SF Bay Area and there are two direct United flights from SFO to Pasco everyday.

    No Walla Walla is not a big city, but it's a really nice small city. Here is a link to one of Whitman's student bloggers who addresses your concerns: Is College Better if there is a Big City Nearby? | Kayvon's (WHITMAN!) Blog
  • sunmachinesunmachine Posts: 824Registered User Member
    bopambo, thanks, and sorry I missed your comments upthread!

    Scott, Whitman's location clearly will not please everyone, but for my son the proximity to outdoor activities turned out to be a real selling point. This link to the site for the pre-orientation freshmen Scrambles trips will give you an idea of what is close by: Scramble Booklet 2012. Whitman also had a 95% freshman retention rate last year, which to me is a pretty good indicator that most Whitties are happy with their experience. I think most great LACs in small towns or remote areas have gotten pretty good at bringing activities and events to campus. I could be wrong about this, but I don't recall hearing about Whitman students being bored. Still, like I said, it's not for everyone, and someone who wants a fast club scene or the other draws of urban social life might want to look elsewhere. What other schools is your D considering?
  • bopambobopambo Posts: 987Registered User Member
    Sunmachine, have your onions arrived yet?
  • AlohaScottAlohaScott Posts: 25Registered User New Member
    Hi SunMachine.

    Thanks for the link to the Scramble 2012. I will forward that on to D. CollegeView shows a retention rate of 92%. Still extremely high and higher than most other schools we have visited. This is one of the key indicators I look at with D.

    We currently live in a rural community on an island in the middle of the pacific. It takes us an hour to get to our airport and then getting direct flights to mainland cities at a reasonable price is difficult. Many times, it will take two or three connections to get to the intended destination. To add another 4+ hours to then have to drive to Walla Walla may just be too much for her. I don’t think it is so much that she wants an urban social scene, in fact I am pretty sure that is not the case. I think it is more the idea that home is not so terribly far away and too difficult to return. But you never know. There was a ’11 graduate from her school that went to Whitman and loves it, so there is that connection also.

    Other schools we recently visited: Reed (turned off by foul-mouthed interviewer), Lewis & Clark (loved it, currently living there for two weeks in a Writers Workshop), Linfield (felt like High School), Willamette (Train Sirens every 15 minutes were driving her crazy), Macalester (tight campus in vibrant residential community-top choice right now), Carleton (worried what happens when winter sets in), and Whitman (loved everything but the remoteness).

    Bopambo, I should clarify my "closest airport is essentially Spokane" comment. The councilor did mention the two closer airports, but acknowledged they are limited and expensive. That most kids drive to Spokane, Seattle, or Portland for direct flights to destinations outside of the area.

    Aloha,
  • bopambobopambo Posts: 987Registered User Member
    Scott, your daughter's travel concerns are real. The only thing that might soften the trip is that there is a campus wide list-serve, where students from Seattle and Portland look for riders to share the drive with them to Whitman. There are lots of students from both cities, so I'd bet by the second semester she'd have friends she could hitch a regular ride with, but it's still a road trip.

    My son was very serious about Macalster also, it's a great school! I really liked the location. However, for my son it was the weather, the outdoor opportunities (he's taking kayaking class in the fall, there are three fabulous rivers very close by) and the tight-knit community at Whitman that won the day. Both schools have great academics.
  • sunmachinesunmachine Posts: 824Registered User Member
    Aloha Scott, I looked at the CDC for the retention rate for last year (95%):http://www.whitman.edu/whitman/download.cfm?DownloadFile=ECC16C5F-0E1A-356C-7423C42CFA5AE1A5. It varies a bit from year to year, of course. As for travel, I just booked plane tickets for my son's freshman year move-in in august. Son will going early for a Scramble, flying directly into Walla Walla (after connecting in Seattle). W and I will join him a few days later, flying into Pasco (after connecting in SFO). The price of the Pasco ticket was no more than tickets to Seattle or Portland, and much more convenient. The ticket to Walla Walla was about $100 bucks more, but well worth it in my view. The take away point for us is that there are direct flights to walla walla from Seattle, and to Pasco from SFO.

    Sounds like your D is looking at some great schools. S1 is at Carleton, which he loves, and if you have any questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them. S2 chose Whitman over L&C and Willamette after much soul-searching ( especially Willamette). Both of my boys visited Mac but decided not to apply for reasons unknown. Looked like a nice school to me!

    bopampo: no sign of onions at our house!
  • bopambobopambo Posts: 987Registered User Member
    sunmachine, darn, did I mention onions? You didn't hear it from me :)

    I'm glad your S is scrambling!
  • bopambobopambo Posts: 987Registered User Member
  • PrestonWAPrestonWA Posts: 29Registered User New Member
    Whitman is currently my no. 2 choice slightly behind Vassar, but these two schools have really separated from the pack for me, with Bates a couple notches down at third.

    I know Whitman isn't the most prestigious and isn't always that highly ranked but I don't care much about prestige and the Whitman education seems amazing in most every way. As someone interested in pre-med or economics, how are these programs at Whitman? Also, I see myself probably attending grad school, so how successful are Whitties in getting into top notch grad schools, particularly Stanford and UChicago? I read in 'Colleges That Change Lives' that Whitman students have an "in" at UChicago? Is that true?
  • phurikuphuriku Posts: 2,750Registered User Senior Member
    "I read in 'Colleges That Change Lives' that Whitman students have an "in" at UChicago? Is that true?"

    No, that's ridiculous. If you're applying to a liberal arts master's program, it might help to be from a well known liberal arts college, but it's not too competitive to get into such cash cow programs in the first place.

    On the other hand, most PhD programs don't care where you went to college; they care what you did there. However, the PhD acceptance rates at Chicago, Stanford, et al. are going to be below 5% most of the time. That means that only the best of the best are going to get in, which means that it helps a lot to have glowing recommendation letters from rock-star professors with Nobel Prizes.
  • bopambobopambo Posts: 987Registered User Member
    Preston, you need more hard evidence than random opinions on the internet. I pulled out my copy of Colleges That Change Lives, and Loren Pope did indeed make that statement. You should contact the Whitman Economics Department and ask about grad school outcomes for students from their department. I think there is discussion about pre-med in this thread up stream a bit.
  • bopambobopambo Posts: 987Registered User Member
    Preston, forums like this are limited because so few students are active participants, it leaves the task of answering important questions to parents and clueless others. Here is the place to start: Whitman College Economics Department. I also found some fascinating econ grad school info here: The American Economic Association Graduate Study in Economics Web Pages.
  • SJTHSJTH Posts: 1,807Registered User Senior Member
    Peston, I know a girl who graduated two years ago from Whitman who is now entering her second year in a graduate program at Yale--just happened upon this thread and thought I would throw my .02 in. There are fewer liberal arts colleges in the west than the east, but I would say that, in addition to the Claremont Colleges, Whitman has one of the best academic reputations of them all. The students I know (quite a few) who attend Whitman love it, but they are mostly students who attend from the Portland metro area and either drive (carpool) or fly to Pasco.
  • bopambobopambo Posts: 987Registered User Member
    SJTH, anecdotal evidence is good. I attended a Whitman event for prospective students in San Mateo several years ago. The format was a presentation by history professor David Schmitz, an inspiring speaker, who gave a compelling argument for pursuing a liberal arts education. Then Whitman alumni from the Bay Area formed a panel and answered questions from the high school students. The members of the panel were unbelievably accomplished; 2 with grad degrees from Harvard; one from Stanford; one recent graduate of Whitman who had just been hired by Google; and an African woman who had gone to grad school somewhere in the midwest (Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan? Sorry it was a while ago.) who was currently an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco and running a huge non-profit that helped educate girls in her home country. These people were successful, articulate, engaged and they all said Whitman's education thoroughly prepared them for grad school.

    Clearly Loren Pope was making reference to some special relationship that the Economics Dept at Whitman has or had with the Economics Graduate School at U of Chicago. It may or may not still exist, the world does change, but clearly going to Whitman is no impediment to getting into stellar grad programs.
  • PrestonWAPrestonWA Posts: 29Registered User New Member
    Thanks for the responses! Obviously getting into grad school is primarily dependent on how you perform in college, but I guess I was mainly wondering if top grad schools consider Whitman to be on par with the more prestigious, well-known LAC's out East. I think Whitman is held in higher regard by admissions committees at grad schools than by prospective college students coming out of high school. For how good of a school it is, Whitman has a very high acceptance rate and I think students read too much into acceptance rates at times.
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