Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Area high school students take courses at Whitman

Illustration: Alex Bailey

You may be sitting in class next to a high school student. Because of a program connecting Whitman and the greater community of Walla Walla, a handful of high school students partake in classes on the Whitman campus each semester.

“It’s a great program,” said David Guichard, professor of mathematics and Whitman’s facilitator of the program.

The program allows up to 16 area high school students each to enroll in one Whitman course per semester.

“This is great prep for when I go to college,” said Julia Cosma, a junior at Walla Walla High School. “It’s a chance to broaden my horizons and get a deeper understanding of a subject.”

According to Guichard, the program began in the 1970s.

“Maybe it occurred to somebody that this would be a nice thing to do for the community,” said Guichard. “It’s great. I wish it were a little more well-known, because I think it’s one of the really good things that Whitman does for the community.”

While the college reserves 16 spots for these students, in recent years the program hasn’t seen the quota completely filled. Each spring, Guichard prepares applications and the Dean of Students Office  sends announcements out to local high schools. Students may apply if they’re interested in the opportunity and demonstrate that they are ready for a college-level class.

Guichard reviews the applications submitted to him and makes recommendations to the Dean of Students Office before students are accepted into the program.

“All the applications come in to me from the various high schools and I go through them,” said Guichard. “If there aren’t more applications than spots, we rarely turn anyone down.”

The option is currently available to any high school student who has met the appropriate prerequisites for a certain course. There is a minimum GPA requirement  on the application form, but according to Guichard, if a student can demonstrate an aptitude for a certain subject they may still be accepted.

The students are usually high school juniors and seniors. Occasionally there are  sophomores who can demonstrate the appropriate preparation for a college course.

Cosma is currently enrolled in French 150, after having finished all the French available to her at WaHi. She took the Whitman language placement test online, filled out the application and was accepted last spring.

“I feel like the individual experience is especially great for French,” said Cosma. “We have a small class, so it’s a great opportunity to learn more verbal skills.”

There are only five or six students taking classes this semester, according to Guichard. Because of scheduling constraints and travel logistics, it can be difficult for students to enroll in courses at Whitman.

“With travel time, students pretty much have to give up two high school periods to get one Whitman period unless they can take an evening class or a late afternoon class,” said Guichard. “It really does make it harder.”

High school students also have to register for classes after all the full-time Whitman students have had their chance, so often the high school students don’t get into their first-choice classes.

“They get what’s left over,” said Guichard. “Sometimes there’s nothing they want to take that they can get into, unfortunately. That doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.”

Students usually take courses in advanced math or languages, but Guichard said the course choices have been across many subjects.

“The courses that students take seem to go in waves,” said Guichard. “Recently, I think the most popular courses have been languages. But we’ve had students all over the map.”

Guichard likes the opportunity to facilitate Whitman’s side of the program because he likes being able to help out the students.

“I’m willing to do it essentially until I retire,” said Guichard. “I like doing it because I think it is such a good program, and it directly benefits students.”

The courses are offered to high school students free of charge, while someone normally coming in from the community to take a Whitman class would have to pay for their credits. But since the students register after all full-time students to take class spots still available and pay for their own books and course fees, it doesn’t affect the college negatively. In fact, as Guichard points out, the students aren’t the only ones who benefit.

“We get students who are both good enough to get in and who like their experience here enough to come here,” said Guichard, speaking of the few high school students who eventually apply and become full-time Whitman students. “There’s certainly something in it for Whitman: good community relations [in offering the program] and, sometimes, good students.”

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