Whitman from a first-year’s parent’s perspective

Hadley Jolley

Credit: Alden
Credit: Alden

Upon my arrival at Whitman, the first thing one of the RAs in the Prentiss Hall lounge said after I picked up my room key was, “I had that room! It’s tiny!”

Yes, compared to other Prentiss rooms, my room was particularly tiny. So tiny that we had to carry some of what I brought to campus back to the car and take it home.

When a man saw my father carrying a few boxes back to the car, he said, “So you over-packed?”

“No. We were under-roomed,” my dad, Michael Jolley, said.

This was not the first time my parents had been on campus. My mother and I had visited the school twice before, once when I was a sophomore and again in the fall of my senior year. My father came with me to Whitman’s admitted students’ day in the spring, after I had decided to attend Whitman.

Besides my lack of room space: though my half of the two-room double, as my parents pointed out, was still bigger than some of the dorm rooms they shared with others when they attended college: my parents were impressed by the way Whitman handled students, and in particular, with how easy it was to get registered and move in.

“I thought everything was pretty well organized. They did a good job of having everything set up,” said my father.

The fraternity members who helped carry my possessions up to the third floor: and down again: certainly didn’t hurt, either.

Both my parents consider the campus itself very beautiful and the day we moved in, the sun shone and the campus looked better than usual.

“I just loved the campus. All the students were really nice. It seemed like an easy-going place,” my mother, Karen Henry, said. “The one thing that struck me when we visited Whitman was that there were a lot of people out and about.”

She said that she had not seen that kind of activity at other colleges we visited together.

One of the benefits of living relatively close to Whitman: it’s a four-hour drive from our home near Portland to the campus: is that it is not difficult to visit before attending or even applying.

The closeness has other benefits as well. My mother said she would not have been as comfortable if I were farther away. She would have felt more disconnected.

“There’s that just psychological factor,” she said.

My dad pointed out that they’re within driving distance in case I get extremely sick.

The town of Walla Walla also created some sense of closeness and familiarity. My father noted that Walla Walla is fairly similar to other places my family has lived. Kalispell, Montana, also small and conservative, stands out.

“It’s not like I’m sending you to southern California or the East Coast,” my dad said.

Over all, my moving into college didn’t cause as much stress on my parents as it could have.

“I thought I would be more sad, but I was more thrilled for you after spending a couple of days at Whitman and meeting your classmates,” my mom said.