College prepares for influx of visitors

As May approaches and high school seniors everywhere begin to concretely ponder the next four years of their lives, it’s become nearly impossible to avoid the epidemic-like surge of manila folders dotting Whitman’s campus amongst sunbathers and Frisbee games.

Spring Visitors Day and Admitted Students Day, taking place April 12 and 20 respectively, are both days packed with chances for admitted students to get a taste of Whitman life in all its glory. They get serenaded by a capella groups, overwhelmed with Whitman’s multitude of activities and resources and indoctrinated into the school’s thriving Frisbee culture, if only for a fleeting hour. Though all of this takes place on a single day, the preparation has taken months. Planning for the event started in February, long before the decision about the class of 2017 had been solidified, but the Office of Admission chooses the date a year in advance.

“We want to be conscious of when other schools are holding their Admitted Students Day[s],” explained Admission Officer Sadie Nott.

As the year starts, applications file in and admission officers get hard at work reviewing applications.

“January, February and March are incredibly reading-based,” said Nott.

Despite the piles of applications to plow through, Nott and her interns, seniors Laetitiah Magara and Jenna Fritz, were also planning the Admitted Students Day for students they had yet to admit.

“It’s hard to plan this while you’re reading applications and while you’re meeting with admitted students,” said Nott. “It’s a lot of changing the way that you’re approaching work very quickly.”

Interns Fritz and Magara have played a big role in organizing the events for the day, and were charged with communicating with admitted students and their families.

“It’s a lot of emailing—emailing professors to get them on board with the programs we have,” said Magara. “Jenna [Fritz] was working on the ‘Whittie’ experience … everything that makes Whitties ‘Whitties’ besides academics.”

They’ve spent the last two months reaching out to professors, individuals in charge of co-curricular opportunities and students interested in participating on panels or in various activities to put together a presentation of what Whitman has to offer.

Amidst all the planning, both Nott and Magara praised the support they received from their own team and from the larger Whitman community.

“For me personally, it’s been absolutely wonderful to have senior interns to work alongside me,” said Nott, who isn’t a Whitman graduate, and isn’t as familiar with the college. “These guys have been great, really stepping up to the plate and being able to help in that way. And faculty and staff here have an unending support for our events in the office and I’m incredibly grateful for that.”

Magara echoed this sentiment, finding rhythm and comfort to the work.

“Everyone is so willing to support you, you don’t really have to struggle … You don’t have to ask people many times until you feel like you’re starting to be a bother; it just comes so naturally, which is awesome,” she said.

Once decisions are finalized, thick folders are mailed to accepted students around the country. “And then it’s super busy and all the different students come to visit,” said Nott.

The Office of Admission this time of year is especially lively, as prospective students file in and out for interviews, information and tours.

“It’s just crazy right now, in a good way,” said senior Ryan Campeau, co-manager of the Admission A-Team. “We have about 40 or 50 visitors a day.”

Campeau, along with senior Kevin Dyer, organizes all of Whitman’s tours. During the dark lull of winter, tour guides often find nothing to do when they come in to work, but the large influx of prospective students keeps the guides on their toes.

“On Admitted Students Day we have so many tours going out—it’s funny being a tour guide on that day because there’s a hundred groups and you are going to bump into every single group and have to take a route you’ve never taken before… It’s a free-for-all,” said Campeau.

Tours might be muscle-memory routine for the tour guides, but tours are also designed to cater to the needs of individual students.

“We always try to take in the interest of the group. If most of the group is really interested in art, even though we don’t normally go there, you might take a different path and go to the art building and come back. There’s not much that can go wrong,” said Campeau.

When the day finally arrives, all of this hard work will come into place. But, of course, there are some problems the Office of Admission can’t control.

“We will occasionally get requests from families we’re not able to fulfill,” said Nott. “But I honestly haven’t encountered more than one or two of those problems.”

The team members hold their fingers crossed for good weather, but there is an air of optimism fueled by a little bit of superstition for sunny skies.

“[President] George Bridges has a weather machine, and always manages to turn out gorgeous weather for it,” said Campeau.

Beyond the issue of the weather, Nott doesn’t seem to be worried about the big day.

“At this point I’m so excited for the day to happen,” she said. “If you had asked me about it two weeks ago, I would have been very stressed. But we’re at a really good point with planning now.”

Ultimately, Nott and Magara hope that students walk away with a better understanding of what it means to be a student at Whitman.

“I feel so strongly and so excited about the class we just admitted, and I’d love to see as many of them here on campus and in this community as possible,” said Nott. “But in the end, this is decision-making time for them and I want to inform them and give them the best experience and truest understanding of Whitman as possible.”

Though Magara is enthusiastic about bringing students to our school, she holds a realistic approach to the process.

“I would have said earlier that I just want everyone to say ‘yes,’” said Magara. “[But I want them to] go where they need to go, so we don’t have people who are sad here. I hope that they’ll know whether or not it’s good for them, but have had such a good experience that the message they send to people [about Whitman] is positive.”




Filed under: Feature Feature Highlight

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