Whitman for the non-stellar student?

My child was admitted to Whitman yesterday and is very excited. In many ways I think it’s a great fit for her but… My question is how is it for students who are not stellar academically? I’m looking at the stats on here for admitted students and she does not line up. I’m not sure exactly what got her in, though she does have some compelling pieces to her life experience, but as a parent I want to be sure I’m not sending her off to a school where she will struggle greatly or worse…fail. I’m not trying to be pessimistic but I do want to get a sense of how kids who aren’t stellar academically do once they arrive on campus, and whether they are left in the dust or become part of that small % which does not return! love everything about the school, just want to be sure she’s set up for success and not punching above her weight class…

They wouldn’t have admitted her if they didn’t think she could handle it. My D knows kids there and they love it. Congratulations to her!

Thank you for replying! Yes, I think there is truth to that…but I want to feel comfortable she won’t spend her entire 4 years struggling to keep up.

There will be a tutoring center, professor office hours, and study groups. Let her fly. You can’t know the unknown, and the admissions officers know what they are doing.


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OK, thanks. Anyone who has lower GPA or knows of someone who does, who can give feedback on how they are doing, I’d be interested! Ultimately she’ll decide, but it’s relevant info before the decision is made. She’s also considering Puget Sound. Thanks!

My son is an alumnus and we have a family friend who is a senior there now. The college is supportive and the atmosphere is non-competitive, that being said, it is a rigorous curriculum. My son had stellar scores and GPA and said it wasn’t easy. The friend who is a current student and went in with lower stats almost transferred out freshman year because he didn’t think he was up it, however, he stayed and took advantage of the all the help provided. He’ll graduate having struggled but ultimately succeeding, he says he’s glad he stayed. I can’t predict how your daughter might react to having to seek assistance, but it’s clear if she can ask for help, she’ll definitely receive it.

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Thank you this is definitely helpful. She does already ask for and access help at her HS so she’s comfortable doing that, but this does line up w/what I’ve been thinking and wondering–will she struggle. It sounds like she might…which I think is good to know up-front. It doesn’t mean don’t go, it just means go in w/your eyes open. Thank you!

Windor3, congratulations to your daughter and to you. She has a couple of great choices, and frankly, she can’t go wrong with either one. Best wishes.

My S20 got into both Whitman and UPS as well. We will be visiting both in a few weeks so will see how it goes, but I have the same concern. His grades and test scores are on the lower end for Whitman. However, he attends a pretty rigorous HS and I often hear kids there say that they don’t find college that difficult in comparison to our HS. So on the one hand, I worry that Whitman might be too challenging for him and don’t want to see him have to struggle too hard to keep up. But on the other hand, maybe that level of rigor is exactly what he needs while UPS might not be challenging enough. In the end, it will be his decision to make and we will support whatever he decides.

Maybe we will see you at both these schools in a few weeks as we’re going to see both as well! Our HS is also very rigorous, and that’s a good point. I also wonder if rigorous but more interactive and compelling education (as I hear is the case in classes at Whitman) may inspire her more than more passive, lecture-based learning she currently has. I’m feeling good about it now, esp as so many of the non-academic pieces are a wonderful fit. And certainly we will support whatever she decides as well!

Windsor3, yes, class size and interaction with professors was really one of the compelling reasons S chose Whitman. The students get to know the faculty and participate in every class, nobody can really fall through the cracks. He also loved the happy friendly environment. When he applied to graduate school he got a glowing recommendation from the chairman of his department, who knew him very well.

Windsor3 and Lemonlee – my son was also just admitted to Whitman this week and I have same concerns. He was also admitted to UPS but, for whatever reason, has decided he’s not interested. I’d love to hear from anyone about typical workload and types of work, papers, etc. especially as compared with a rigorous high school program. At this point I think it will be between Whitman and a larger state university. My son believes that the state university will be less rigorous academically. My concern though is in the chance of falling through the cracks in a large institution. I’m thinking that perhaps the small environment and high level of engagement at Whitman will offset the added rigor. In any case, I share your concerns about not wanting to set my son up for failure.

@NotSurprised and @Windsor3 -We’ve talked to a current student and a recent graduate and I am now feeling much more comfortabLe. My sense is that the workload will be hard, but the school has many resources to help students succeed and to me, the more rigorous academics are definitely a plus as I think he will rise to the challenge if he has the right support. Whitman is looking like its moved to the top of his list. Hoping he’ll have a decision soon. This waiting is torture!

@Lemonlee I hope you’ll come back next year (if he chooses Whitman after all) and let us know how it’s working out! @NotSurprised and @Windsor3 any progress yet on your children’s decisions ?

Not yet! Think we are taking this to the wire! Looks like it will be either Whitman or
St. Olaf…but we will see!!

FYI, she chose Whitman! Sent in the deposit tonight

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@Windsor3 Congratulations!! How exciting for your D and it must be a relief to finally have the decision made. S20 is still leaning toward Whitman but I think he is going to push his decision out until the very last possible minute.

@nichols51 Yes, if he choose Whitman, I’ll definitely come back and post an update next year to let you know how it went.

Deposit just submitted for Whitman! So glad to be officially done with the college admissions process!!

@nichols51 Just wanted to come back to give an update, as promised. My son actually took a gap semester in the fall, so this semester was his first one at Whitman. I am happy to report that our concerns were unfounded. He has been doing great and is on track to get all As/Bs in his classes. His classes are definitely challenging, so he’s had to work hard, which is good. He’s very happy to be on campus, even with many of the COVID restrictions. I would also have to say that we are extremely impressed with the college and how they have handled everything - the administration has been very responsive and have done a great job balancing safety with the students’ needs.


@Lemonlee I’m grateful for your good memory in coming back to this thread to provide an update and so happy to hear that, despite COVID, your son has had a good experience in his first semester, your family is happy with the college’s pandemic response, and your son is being pushed in good ways and succeeding at Whitman. It remains a possibility for our D23, though it’s pretty hard to get to from where we are. Maybe next year, after your son has had more of a typical on-campus experience, you can come back yet again and fill us in some more on the social dynamic, campus culture, etc. I love hearing about these smaller school gems that don’t get as much attention on CC.

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