A few questions from a parent

My son and I visited Whitman last week. He had narrowed his "college list" from over 30 schools to 17 by June, then whittled that down to 10 by mid-July. We had taken him to see the following schools during his junior year: Middlebury, Emory University, Duke University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Claremont-McKenna, Pomona. He had also visited a number of the University of California campuses (we're California residents). The reason we went to visit Whitman is that near the end of July, he put Whitman at the top of his list and started talking about applying Early Decision. Without having ever set foot on the campus. </p>

<p>Impression: We were very impressed with the campus and the town. We went down into the bookstore in the belly of the student center, and my son carefully looked through all the required texts of the courses offered in the programs he's interested in. Based on what I've seen and what I know about my son, I'd say the school is a great match for him, and he is a great match for the school. He still has Whitman at the top of his list.</p>

<p>Questions: I'd like to hear from anyone who knows a bit about internship possibilities at Whitman. Walla Walla is charming, but it's a really small town. What sorts of opportunities are available? Also, how hard is it for students to get the classes they want? We noticed in the campus registration system that many of the classes currently have fairly long waitlists. I would hate for my son to choose a college based on the subjects he's excited about, arrive in Walla Walla, and then find he can't get into any of the classes he loves. He wants to major in English Literature and minor in Japanese.</p>

<p>Any kind of feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks!</p>

<p>I think some kids just find Whitman is "their" place and it is a somewhat mysterious alchemy. At least yours looked widely and does know the feel of many kinds of schools. Mine didn't want to do a college tour, finally went in his room with the Fiske Guide on a hot summer day and came out hours later with a list of possibles and wanted to know if we could go see the one I knew nothing about..in Walla Walla. He did apply ED ( we made him visit at least one other before saying that was okay and he chose Macalester). He will be a senior and he has loved Whitman. </p>

<p>About internships: There is a lot of interaction with the city and I know of kids who have had good experiences working on the local paper, for example. Mine got very interested in neighborhood organizing and had a an amazing practical education in local politics, negotiating, interagency dynamics, legalities, etc. There are opportunities in politics/research (look up the State of the State study that is organized by Mireles and Apostolides) and kids do some great things on semesters away (domestic or abroad) as well. So even though WW is rural/remote by some standards, it is a large enough city, central to the region (2 colleges and the penitentiary) that has some good options for off campus reality to augment the academic community.</p>

<p>About classes: Freshman register last and can be frustrated by what isn't open to them. But the reality is that it forces them into things they might have avoided and opens new doors. AND the lists before school begins are misleading I think, because sometimes they open new sections if enrollment supports it. And students who registered last spring make changes so things open up. You should probably ask that question of multiple students if/when you visit in the fall. I do know that the faculty seems very open to independent studies to help students follow particular interests so that helps students tailor their studies in ways that don't show up on the registration lists. Somehow it all works out.</p>

<p>My DS will be a freshman at Whitman this year. After registration he has the required core class (automatically registered), the two classes he definitely wanted / needed to take, and a fourth class that he enrolled in after his reading of professor reviews got him interested in the class. He even got them pretty much in the morning-block configuration he wanted. This was a much different experience than his older brother's at the big State U, where getting into required classes was difficult into his junior year.</p>

<p>I know that there are a lot of kids on waitlists. One thing that I read said that the college may add another section of a class with a long waitlist, so kids are encouraged to add their names if they're interested in the class.</p>

<p>ETA: My son says that there is a fair amount of discussion, including registration experiences, on the Whitman Class of 2013 Facebook group and you don't have to register to read it. He looked at some of the comments from earlier classes when researching schools.</p>

<p>Thanks for the helpful information!</p>

<p>Perseverance can help your chances of getting into a class that is full. My daughter audited an upper level bio class this semester, and after about 10 days the professor sent her an email saying that because she attended every class he would make space for her. </p>

<p>Some departments at Whitman, however, seem to have a hard time accomodating the numbers of students who wish to take a class. According to my daughter, who has taken some art classes but is not an art major, certain beginning art classes are so hard to get into that they fill up during the senior registration. Hiring in the art dept has apparently not yet caught up with the new art building.</p>

<p>CalAlum, we are from the Bay Area. My daughter applied early decision and is now a senior. Her main fears about Whitman concerned the lack of diversity. Coming from Berkeley High it was a bit of an adjustment, but it wasn't really a surprise. She has really thrived at Whitman, and likes the outdoor opportunities, and is comfortable there. I don't know a lot about the English Dept, but my daughter had Kari Tupper, the president's wife, for Core and for another English class and loved her.</p>