Admissions Office Events Welcome Prospective Students to Campus

Sylvie Corwin

Spring Visitors Day brought nearly 80 prospective students to campus on Friday, Apr. 5, and Admitted Students Day this coming weekend already has an RSVP count of 257 prospective students. Between 400 and 500 total visitors, when parents and other guests are included, are expected to come for Admitted Students Day on Apr. 13.

Director of Admissions Adam Miller started working in Whitman’s Admissions Department in 2013, but the Admissions events have a longer history.

“Both of these programs have been around long before my time at Whitman, at least since the ’90s, I think,” Miller said.

This year the Admissions department hired Lauren Prusia for the new role of Admissions Events Coordinator. Previously, various admissions officers have taken on the task of organizing Spring Visitors Day and Admitted Students Day.

“We usually [start to] plan this about six months in advance,” Prusia said. “The benefit of having myself in this position is I can get working on it a lot sooner than an admissions officer because of travel [and application] season.”

Organizing the event includes reserving all the facilities, contacting professors who might be willing to teach a sample class for admitted students on a Saturday, taking attendance counts for each session and a variety of other tasks.

One of the events this year will be “Get Whittie” sessions, which features a variety of student-led activities on campus, such as touring the radio station or the Japanese tea room. First year Christian Wallace-Bailey is involved in the a cappella group Schwa which will facilitate a “Get Whittie” session.

“I am looking forward to [Admitted Students Day] because we are debuting some pieces for Schwa that will be in our a cappella showcase next Wednesday, which is going to be a hoot,” Wallace-Bailey said.

Wallace-Bailey also works as a tour guide on campus. During Spring Visitors Day, he gave an art-specific tour for students interested in Whitman’s music, theater, dance and visual arts programs. He will give the arts tour again during Admitted Students Day.

“The hardest part [of tour guiding] is usually not the students at all…sometimes the hardest part can be dealing with their parents,” Wallace-Bailey said. “Either they don’t care and all and then they are really not receptive to touring and could care less, which is unfortunate, or they care a lot and have a really clear idea of what they want their child to do in college and will answer for them.”

In the past, Admitted Students Day has been a full 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. day — the structure this year has changed to better accommodate prospective students’ schedules and travel planning. The traditional opening and closing gatherings for the event have been cut and some event sessions will be repeated throughout the day so students can attend in the morning or the afternoon.

“We have gotten away from having this big opening ceremony in Cordiner Hall at 8 a.m.; no one is really awake for that and it also forces people to be here really early,” Prusia said. “If you’re a family who is driving in from Seattle or Portland, that’s a really early day leaving around 3 a.m. … We try to make [the schedule] as flexible as possible.”

“We’ve already received positive feedback from families who were able to travel to Walla Walla the morning of an event, rather than having to arrive the day before,” Miller said.

For the prospective students who do make it to campus for overnight stays, residential life and general tours, example classes, Admitted Students Day presentations or just chance encounters with passing students — all are aimed at giving them a glimpse of what living and studying at Whitman is like.

“Every year I’m reminded of just how warm and supportive this community is, and it makes me particularly proud to play a role in introducing newcomers to our campus,” Miller said.