Whitman College is a small, unpretentious, tight-knit liberal arts college with 1470 undergraduate students in the southeastern part of Washington State. Walla Walla is a small city of 60,000. It is two and a half hours from Spokane, 4 hours from Portland, and four and a half hours from Seattle. There is no big city anywhere on Whitman’s horizon. Walla Walla, like Whitman itself, is full of laid-back charm, a certain artsy vibe, amazing locally-grown food (it’s a foodies dream) and the promise of outdoor activities. Festivals and a budding wine industry give Walla Walla a small college-town glow. While there is not a great deal to do in Walla Walla, there’s always something going on at Whitman. The main street of town was vibrant on a Sunday evening and the mood was friendly. Whitman names as a priority keeping the campus small and the professor/student interactions personal. Even the president has weekly “office hours” at the coffee shop in the student center. The college is said to provide a broad based, yet rigorous, course of study. All students must complete a capstone project before graduation. There is a sense of balance on the campus—balance between rigorous academics and good-natured fun, balance between cultural events and outdoors adventure, and balance between students’ motivation to achieve and willingness to collaborate. Whitman students can be characterized as individuals who love learning, are inclusive, and are very happy to be in Walla Walla at their wonderful college.
Whitman has moderate distributional requirements and also a 2-semester first-year experience. All students must take 2 courses in cultural pluralism, which focus on under-represented cultural perspectives, diversity, and the interconnectedness of cultures. These courses offer in-depth coverage of at least one of the following: cultural pluralism; power disparities among social groups; approaches used in the interpretation of cultural difference; marginality within categories such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or class; or the perspectives of non-dominant groups. Students also take 2 courses in humanities, 2 in science, 2 in social sciences, 2 in fine arts and 1 in quantitative analysis.
In addition to the 45 majors offered through the college, Whitman students can earn a combination undergraduate/graduate degree at select prestigious universities across the country. Interested students complete three years at Whitman before transferring to Duke University, for example, for a two-year graduate program in forestry, environmental management, or engineering. There are other programs that interface with other universities as well. For example, Whitman students can also graduate with a law degree in six years, completing the first three at Whitman and the second three at Columbia Law School.
Whitman students care about academics. The library and computer labs are open 24/7. Whitman has no teaching assistants. The average class size is 15. A whopping 70% of classes have fewer than 20 students. 30% of classes have between 20 – 49 students, and only 1% have over 40 students. The most popular majors are, economics and econometrics, psychology, biology, English language studies, and political science and government.
Whitman offers the following special programs:
Seventy percent of students live on campus—freshmen and sophomores are required to do so. Students come out in droves to play intramural sports—70% of the student body participates. Forty-four percent of students go Greek. Greek life is said to be very inclusive. On weekend nights, parties start out for the group who sponsors them and then soon open up to all members of the Whitman community. There are over 100 clubs and activities for students if Greek life or sports is not their thing. Whitman is known for its wonderful theater. There are more than 22 musical ensembles and 8 theater staged productions/year. Students can get a major in theater with a BA or also minor in theater.
Whitman participates in NCAA DIII athletics in the Northwest Conference, one of the most competitive DIII conferences. There are 7 men’s and 7 women’s varsity teams. Interested athletes should check out the “get-recruited” page on the Whitman website, http://www.whitman.edu/whitman-athletics/get-recruited. The following is a quote from a happy Whitman athlete from College Prowler.
“Whitman has hands down the best athletics facilities in the Northwest Conference. Our fitness center, which is used by both Varsity athletes as well as the general campus community, rivals many DI fitness centers. Aside from the phenomenal facilities, the support from students, staff, and faculty is consistently excellent. As a Varsity athlete, I have never been to an athletic event without running into both professors and other Varsity athletes there to support their peers. This year, Whitman qualified more teams for National level competition than ever before. Men’s and Women’s tennis both won berths to Nationals, as did Women’s Golf, and two Varsity Men’s swimmers. All the varsity sports are on the rise! If you’re considering participating at a DIII institution, Whitman is an unparalleled atmosphere in which to compete. Aside from the support from the campus and community, the school is required not to dock student-athletes who miss class due to competition or travel. Being an athlete here has been the defining experience of my four years! Oh, yeah, we have lots of club sports, including tremendous Frisbee teams, rugby, lacrosse, cycling, water polo, men’s volleyball, tennis, track, Nordic and downhill skiing, and snowboarding. To top it off, we have dozens of intramural sports like flag football, soccer, dodge ball, tennis, basketball, and softball, to name a few. Bottom line: no we’re not a big time state school, but we take our athletics extraordinarily seriously.
Because there’s not much going on in Walla Walla, most of the nightlife happens on campus. There are concerts, Whitman sponsored events including movies and lectures, dorm parties, and frat parties. Every Friday night in the basement of the student union there’s a musical event called Coffeehouse that features students or a local band. Most frat parties are inclusive of non-members, but sometimes they are exclusive if they follow a Greek function. While the Greek scene is active and a major part of the social life, two-thirds of students do not go Greek. Since Whitman by nature, is a friendly and welcoming place, there is not a divide between independents and Greeks. Greek life is said to be one way students might get involved in campus, but there are others as well. Also, even though the outdoor opportunities abound and the outing club is the largest on campus, the outdoors culture isn’t as dominant on campus as it might seem. Many students are not into hiking and camping, and they spend their energies on other activities: academics, theater, newspaper, student government, poetry, athletics, and performance… the list goes on.
Whitman College is also known for graduating ethical leaders. Whitman currently ranks in the top 15 colleges nationwide for Peace Corps volunteers and in the top 20 colleges in Teach for America participants. Since 2005 Whitman has graduated a Rhodes scholar, 41 Fulbright scholars, 18 National Science Foundation winners, and 9 Watson Fellowship recipients. There have also been multiple winners of Beinecke, Goldwater, Truman and Udall scholarships and awards.
Admit rate: 43% overall
76% ED admit rate
42% of women and 43% of men who applied in 2015 were accepted overall.
mid-range of enrolled students:
ACT : 27-32 (admitted 28-32)
SAT m: 600-720
Average GPA: 3.73 (unweighted 4.0 scale)
54% were in the top 10% of their graduating hs class.
88% were in the top 25% of their graduating hs class.
98% were in the top 50% of their graduating hs class
The Cost-of Attendance of 2016-2017 was $61,200.
48.6% of students with need get their full need met. The average need met was 96%.
24.7% of incoming students without need got an average merit award of $9700.
4 year graduation rate: 81.8%
5 year graduation rate: 87.0%
6 year graduation rate: 87.3%
94 % of freshmen return for their sophomore year.