Office of Admission breaks record for applications for second year in row

Jeremy Alexander

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The Office of Admission at Whitman College has closed the application period for the 2015-2016 school year. The college experienced a spike in the number of first-year and transfer applications in the last two years. The college is committed to improving diversity and expanding the number of international applicants. The school had an overall three to four percent growth in applications from last year.

The deadline for applications is Jan. 15 for first-years and March 1 for transfer students. The overall admission numbers combine both.

Last year the school established a new record of 3,807 applicants. This year, well over 3,900 applied, including approximately 3,800 first-year applicants and around 120 transfer applicants.

The biggest reason Whitman has gotten many more applicants is a huge jump in international applications. This year the school had a 33 percent jump in international applicants, with 560 international students applying  from over 80 countries. Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Tony Cabasco talked about the growing numbers of international applicants.

“China, Nepal, Korea, Vietnam and Pakistan are the main international countries,” said Cabasco. “Our admissions recruiters travel and recruit in China, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan extensively with other northwest colleges.”

Traveling and word of mouth both play a part in recruiting a larger pool of applicants. First-year Zeyu “Ted” Liu from Changchun, China talked about why Whitman appeals to international students.

“Whitman’s admission policy is definitely getting more internationalized. A lot of international students are not familiar [with] liberal arts college [on] the West Coast, especially Washington,” said Liu. “Whitman went to my high school last year for the first time and … recruited more international students.”

In terms of diversity at Whitman, Cabasco is optimistic for the future. Students of color represent 24 year of this year’s applicants, and international students constitute an additional 15 percent.

“This applicant pool is more diverse than we have ever had,” said Cabasco. “There has also been growth in the amount of first-generation students applying to college.”

California and Washington have always been the states that get the most Whitman applicants. Now a higher proportion of applicants come from all over the country instead of these two nearby states.

There is a committee of faculty, staff and students who have been convening this spring. They have been looking at research and data to come up with recommendations for a test-optional policy. The Office of Admission needs some time to implement such drastic changes. Cabasco estimates that a switch to test-optional admissions would require 12 to 18 months at least.

The possibility of test-free admissions is also on the horizon for Whitman. Even with record numbers of applicants, becoming a test optional school would boost Whitman’s applications dramatically.

“ASWC passed a resolution in the fall in regards to a test-free admissions policy. The college has previously looked at the impact the ACT/SAT have on things like graduation rates. A few years ago I proposed something, but we did not get a chance to look at it. There is a lot of interest from our staff and many circles around school. We are just getting started,” said Cabasco.

Such a change would be welcome to first-year Riley Worthington, who is optimistic about increased application numbers.

“It is exciting for the school to have a larger applicant pool because it means more diverse experiences from students. We can all become enriched by others stories,” he said.