Arriving at Whitman: How to be an incoming first year student

Move In Day is filled with excitement, anxiety, and logistical nightmares. For all you incoming students, here are some pro tips about moving in:


  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Label your boxes
  • Unpack the most important things first, then decorate
  • Bring water. Walla Walla can be over one hundred degrees in August
  • Bring someone to help you unpack
  • Start early to get a good parking spot
  • Get to know your roommate in advance. You don’t want an awkward first encounter on the day you move in
  • Buy a fan if you are living anywhere other than Prentiss
  • Avoid Isaacs Street, which is currently under construction
  • Make a few friends on your floor
  • Take a picture. I wish I had a picture of me actually moving into my first year dorm!


  • Buy a mini fridge before you see what room you’re actually living in
    While all rooms look the same in each dorm, some rooms have more or less space to offer.
  • Bring a hot plate, candles, microwaves, toasters, animals… all of the things you aren’t suppose to have
  • Buy all of your dorm decorations before you move in
    Again, the space you’re living in or your roommate’s style might change your
    plans. Also we have an annual poster sale so you’ll want some free wall space.
  • Dress to look “cute” and forget about functionality. You’re going to be sweaty and hauling things. A t-shirt and shorts is fine
  • Freak out at your parents because you’re feeling anxious
    Moving in is stressful for everyone. Cut them some slack and don’t get terse with them just because you’re anxious


Orientation Week was one of the most exhausting weeks of my life. Be prepared to run all over campus.


  • Genuinely try to connect with people
  • Bring a refillable water bottle
  • Take naps! You will be so tired. Even with sleeping a full 8 hours, meeting 400 new people and living in an entirely new environment will overwhelm your senses
  • Keep the schedule with you at all times. There’s a lot going on and you don’t even know where you’re going yet
  • Figure out who has a car. This will be useful to you later. If you are the one with a car, be generous
  • Go buy your Encounters textbooks early. Textbooks can be expensive, and it helps tremendously to buy them used. Used books are a commodity, and you will read all of the Encounters books!
  • Get all of your “Orientation Tasks” done. You don’t want to start your first week of classes without your ID and then realize you can’t get into your dorm or pay for a meal


  • Hang on to your orientation-ships like these will be your best friends in college
  • Forget water and snacks
  • Ask people the same questions (ex: where are you from? Which Encounters class are you in? Where are you living? What are you studying?) You will get bored of these quickly and so will everyone else
  • Skip workshops. You’ll need these skills and information later, and even if it isn’t the most helpful, it will be a campus conversation later


The First Day of Class is intense… or so it feels. But in reality your first day of class will be merciful. Professors always start off the year by covering the objectives and plan for the course. Your first day of class is just learning about what the class is and how to do it.


  • Bring something to write on- track materials you will need, any first day projects, professor emails, etc.
  • Bring something to write with… because duh
  • Figure out which buildings your classes are suppose to be in, and go early on the first day because you will get lost
  • Be prepared for some icebreakers, and for some professors to dive right into big questions
  • Read the Summer Read in advance. Sometimes Encounters Professors discuss this on the first day


  • Buy textbooks before you go to the first class. Some professors don’t actually require you to read the whole book, and they will upload parts of the text they want you to see. Wait until you know what’s what, and when you do, go immediately to buy them so you can get them used and at a discount
  • Skip any of your first classes… because duh
  • Wear your lanyard around your neck. For whatever reason, this indicates to the whole campus that you are a first year student. It’s one of the newbee things you grow out of
  • Freak out when you hear about the course workload. Professors usually assign an amount of work that will work for the amount of time you have
  • Be super afraid of upperclassmen. While each course and professor feels familiar to us, we were just as lost and confused as you are


The initial transition into college life can be intimidating. However, every Whitman student has felt those same growing pains. Keep in mind these few tips, and accept that the rest will feel awkward and that is normal. Best of luck to all you incoming first year students! We look forward to seeing you on campus.

One thought on “Arriving at Whitman: How to be an incoming first year student

  1. Great advice!
    Might I suggest another do? Do visit Tech Services on Move-In Day to get your printing setup on your computer so you are ready for the first day of classes.

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