“Hello and welcome to Whitman College. Did you know that our student to tree ratio is 1:1?“
On my first visit to Whitman, I heard that line and I was sold. Hook line and sinker. Done deal.
Okay, that’s not true. But it was an integral part in my choice to come here. For real though, visiting schools is a huge part of the college search, and also extremely important. I’ve learned from experience that things can seem just right on paper, but totally different in real life. So, here are some tips to keep in mind while visiting Whitman, and other schools, to help you keep things in perspective.
Not everyone is watching you. I remember that while visiting schools I was super paranoid that everyone I passed knew I was a visitor, and was watching me and judging me. But looking back, I feel ridiculous for being so worried. Yes, it is scary to be in a new place with people you don’t know, but there is no need to be nervous. Everyone has their own things going on and are not concerned with what you’re doing- in the best possible way, of course.
Whitman students are super welcoming of visitors. We love Whitman and will happily share our experiences with you if you’re interested. There are always interesting events going on and really cool, passionate people behind them that love to share their ideas and show you what Whitman is all about.
Be open minded. I know it’s easy to come in to new situations with preconceptions and biases based on things you read on the internet about the schools you visit. Do your best not to base your experience on those things. I’ve found that the mind is a powerful tool, and if you tell yourself you won’t like something, there’s a much higher chance you’ll find yourself looking for negative things to prove yourself right. After visiting a nearby school about the same size, I almost didn’t even consider Whitman. But now I am so glad I gave it chance, because I found everything I was looking for. You never know how something will be until you try it.
Ask questions. In situations like the college visit, a lot of people will ask if you have any questions. And though they just want to make sure you don’t leave with any burning wonderings, it’s okay to decline. I know I was very overwhelmed and felt like I had to have so many questions. If you can’t think of any, it’s totally fine. But it is a good idea, if you’re feeling up to it, to try to make up a question each time you’re faced with this. Even if it’s as simple as, “Why did you choose Whitman?” it’s really good to take advantage of talking with students and get their perspectives while you can. You may learn something new and exciting that changes your mind.
Visit a class. This is a great opportunity to get a sampling of what the faculty are like. I was really impressed with the professors I met at Whitman, and was able to engage in their classes, which definitely played into my decision.
Consider staying overnight. As a recruited swimmer, one of the huge influences for me was my overnight visit. It was an amazing way to get a glimpse into what an average day of a Whitman student looks like, and to become more closely acquainted with things you otherwise wouldn’t. Staying on campus gives you the chance to get to know some students a little better. It seems scary, and I’m not gonna lie, it kinda was, but I am so glad I did it. It definitely paid off.
Explore Walla Walla. Don’t forget to explore a bit while you’re here- after all, if you decide to come to Whitman, Walla Walla will be your new home! If you’re looking for a good lunch spot, you can’t go wrong with Graze. You can explore downtown and get a killer sandwich- I still have fond memories of that turkey panini from my first trip to Walla Walla.
Take breaks. At any college visit, you will be bombarded with all kinds of information, statistics, names, places, and programs that it can get real overwhelming real fast. Don’t be afraid to take breaks every once in a while to cleanse your palate and give your brain a rest, so you can more effectively experience all these new things without getting burned out. Most likely, you won’t be on campus for more than a weekend, or a couple days, so don’t worry about fitting everything in. Take your time, do what interests you, and consider coming back once you narrow down your search or are accepted. At that point, you can conduct a more in depth exploration.
P.S. If you see you’re scheduled for an interview- don’t freak out. It’s very informal, I promise. No suit necessary. 😉