I recently toured Whitman and just wanted to share my impressions in case there are others out there considering Whitman that perhaps can’t make it out to eastern WA.
We drove in from Portland-- it’s a scenic and easy, but longish drive (4+ hours).
The campus is absolutely lovely. I’m not sure how they get campus and the surrounding residential area to be so lush, but there are trees, creeks, very nice landscaping. Also the campus is much larger than I expected. Most of our tours have been in more urban areas and rural schools really have more room to play with. It wasn’t like anything was a long walk for students, just that you felt like there multiple areas to campus and not just one quad. The campus merges with the surrounding neighborhood of large old craftsman homes and is a very close walk to downtown Walla Walla. Our tour guide said most upperclassman live nearby off campus in rented homes— and very affordably. Apparently there is Greek Life there but it’s low key.
The facilities were very well maintained with lots of newer buildings-- most in a PNW style with wood beams and lots of glass and high ceilings. Brand new dining hall.
The few students we encountered seemed smart, down to earth, passionate about learning and community involvement. Sounds like a tight student community with lots of active clubs, IM sports, and their famed weekend outdoor program. Student body did not appear to be super diverse and consists largely of west coasters.
The areas we heard the most about, possibly due to our own interests: visual arts, sciences (especially bio and astronomy), and combo programs (like Latin A. studies/poly sci). The admissions office has handouts on each department-- the faculty are seriously top notch in terms of pedigree. All are from elite schools.
Walla Walla is a small town but self-contained, high end without being too pricey, and looks to have enough going in terms of restaurants and shopping to keep people occupied.
My D has been hoping for a more urban school but she liked my pics and wants to come visit now. Overall I think academically Whitman hits above its weight class compared to other schools with similar acceptance rates. I hope others will consider adding to this thread if you have first hand experiences with Whitman.
Nice review, and I do wish that my D had visited after she was accepted. Interestingly though, she spent the spring semester in Japan with several Whitties and they became fast friends. In her opinion at least, Whitman students are intelligent, friendly, adventurous and ambitious.
My son is a Whitman graduate, class of 2014. He was accepted to UC Berkeley and several other UCs and LACs ranked quite a bit higher than Whitman in US News college rankings. On visits he loved the town, wanted the outdoor program and instantly felt a kinship with the other students. I thought, “Well, he can be a big fish in a small pond.” Boy, was I wrong! He did well, but it was no cake walk. His fellow students were first rate, many having done exactly what he did, choosing Whitman over more apparently prestigious places. The faculty was excellent, both demanding and accessible. He loved his time there and has found that Whitman is well known in academic circles, and has been an asset on graduate school and internship applications. As he moves around the country and the world he meets up with other Whitman alums and it’s always a warm greeting, it’s a special family.
One more thought: I loved visiting Whitman, Walla Walla is charming. My husband and I visited 7 times over the 4 years and it was really fun. The campus is abuzz with music, lectures, plays (a great theater dept!) and full of talented students who are engaging and nice. Thanks, Techno13 , for such a great review.
Walla Walla is a wine destination and caters to tourists with good taste, there are good restaurants at every price point, nice clothing stores, hip coffee houses, grocery stores and specialty shops. The campus is a couple blocks from the quaint downtown. We stayed within walking distance of campus and loved walking through the old neighborhoods where you can find the oldest and largest Sycamore trees in the state of Washington.
There are also pretty easy ways to avoid that 4 1/2 hour drive from either Seattle or Portland. Walla Walla has a small airport and there are 2 Alaska Airlines flights per day to Walla Walla from Seattle’s Sea Tac. There is also a larger airport an hour away in Pasco, with many more flights and airline choices originating from a variety of other states. In Pasco you can rent a car or take a shuttle bus to Walla Walla.