Out with the old, in with the new: a look at the Class of 2013

Maggie Allen

Each year brings a unique and diverse group of incoming students to campus, and the class of 2013 is no exception.  

In another record year, with applications up 5 percent, the Office of Admission received 3,437 applications, compared to approximately 3,080 last year. Of those who applied, 1,498 students were accepted. As of May 15, 418 students have enrolled; this number may increase pending transfer students.

Forty-eight states were represented in the acceptance process. There was a 26 percent growth in applications from California, Colorado grew by 9 percent, Idaho increased 20 percent, Massachusetts 21 percent, Nevada 29 percent, and Texas 16 percent.  

Seventy-five percent of the transfer students are from a four-year college, and many of these students are transferring from top-tier schools, such as Emory, Middlebury, Dartmouth and Cornell.  

“These are kids at really good places, and they have said that they don’t think it’s the right fit and that Whitman is the better fit,” said Director of Admission Kevin Dyerly. “I’m really excited for the group of transfer students, who really provide a different perspective because they already have some college experience.”  

Acceptances arrived from 20 different countries, and 26 percent of the admitted students are students of color, with 2.5 percent more international students. There were 357 international applicants, compared to 250 accepted last year. These students come from such places as Bangladesh, Botswana, Costa Rica, Egypt, Malaysia, Uruguay and more, with the largest representation from Asia.  

“We are trying to craft the class to represent a pretty broad range of countries and continents,” said Dyerly.

There were also a record number of students accepted from very close by. Six students from Walla Walla High School received acceptance letters.

Academically speaking, the profile of accepted students is still very strong.  

The median unweighted grade point average (GPA) was 3.85, the median verbal SAT 700, math 680, writing 680, and the median ACT was 31.  

Extracurricular activities of the incoming class range from talented thespians, artists, debaters and musicians, to athletes, and students who have conducted scientific research and founded nonprofit organizations. Incoming student Peter Burrows from Minnesota, for example, co-founded an Equestrian Artistry at his high school.

The main challenge the Admissions Office may face within the upcoming year is coping with the economic downturn.  

“The recession may have not affected application choices for colleges this year because by the time the economy really tanked, students had already made their decisions on where they were going to apply,” said Dyerly. “However, the recession might really affect who doesn’t look at Whitman next year. And then there’s just the uncertainty of what the economy is going to do and how that might impact the students we have admitted.”  

“If the economy doesn’t improve, that will have an effect for those who apply next year,” said Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Tony Cabasco. “Another challenge was that last year was the peak of high school graduates, so we are now going to experience a slow decline in the US for the next five to six years.”  

However, considering that the college is still up 5 percent in applications despite the economic downturn, Whitman is doing very well compared to other colleges.  

“That just says that the college is doing a lot of things really well. And our national and international reputation is getting stronger,” said Dylerly.  

Many attributes are drawing students to this campus, despite the financial difficulties. Incoming student Kevin Dyer, from Carson City, Nevada, said that the English program was particularly attractive to him.

“Also, the swim team seemed to be miraculously fit to match what I was looking for, so I’m looking forward to wrecking shop there,” Dyer said.  

“Driving into Walla Walla, my mind became a little more open because of the beautiful rolling hills and mountains,” incoming student from Minnesota Libby Arnosti said. “The town’s cute main street also helped me think a little more positively, but upon being introduced to the people and campus, I fell completely in love with everything about Whitman.”  

Megan Emily Vermillion from Seattle agreed: “Whitman was such a thrill to fall in love with. This college will be the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me!”  

Cabasco shares the same enthusiasm and is looking forward to August.

“We’re excited for this new group of students,” he said. “We think it’s a good group and are excited to meet them. I expect them to come and get involved and engaged like [this year’s class] did.”