A Whitman education is intellectually challenging. It's about developing the broad foundation of knowledge as well as the critical thinking and communication skills you need to lead a life of distinction and service. It's about lifelong learning and lifelong friendships. Discovering who you are and who you want to become. It's about developing the right values and achieving the right balance between the intellectual, professional, social, and personal aspects of your life.
Who should apply? As an intellectually-centered, diverse, and highly-engaged community of scholars, we care deeply about who you are and how you will contribute to our community. This is why we seek high-achieving students with diverse backgrounds - curious, inspired, and highly-engaged students with a passion for learning and a wide and eclectic range of interests; the kind of independent-minded students who are motivated to take intellectual risks in order to become the kind of leaders who can make a difference in the world.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the last few months of the year go by. I celebrated a birthday last weekend on a date some of you may be familiar with thanks to college app deadlines (November 15), and I’ve noticed over the last few years that the next six weeks of the calendar year fly by so quickly I can barely keep track.
I imagine that many of you, as seniors applying to college, feel similarly. Or perhaps, the year simply can’t come to a close quickly enough. Regardless, unless you’ve applied Early Decision (congratulations!), you probably still have a few pieces of your applications to work on. And what pieces might those be? The supplement, you say?
I recently chatted with a group of students about their essay writing process at a school in Marin County, CA. We got on the topic of supplements, and one student asked what I thought schools wanted to see in supplemental essays. Now, if you’re familiar with the Whitman prompt (http://www.whitman.edu/admission-and-aid/applying-to-whitman/supplement), you know that this word-bank activity hardly seems like your average supplemental essay prompt—which I think is a good thing! But to delve more deeply into this student’s question, why is it that you’re writing a supplement for many of the places you’re applying to? I’m sure this young woman isn’t alone in pondering that question.
Sure, as admission officers we like to get an even broader sense of your writing abilities. But first and foremost, the supplemental essay is most often required so that institutions can get a better sense of why you (the student) think that this school is the place for you. It’s never a great idea to approach essay writing for college applications with the goal of writing a piece that an admission officer will want to hear, and if your interest in a school is genuine, let your supplement be a demonstration of this! (If you’re finding a supplement nearly impossible to write, that may say something about whether that school is actually the right place for you.) Because these supplemental pieces are often what admission offices look towards for a sense of ‘fit,’ they’re important to spend time on, even if it’s hard to motivate yourself to do so towards the end of the process. After all, even the strongest of apps, when paired with a supplement that shows little care or little interest in Whitman, leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth.
It’s okay to struggle with supplements—and if you’ve got any ‘Whittie’ in you already, you may have trouble deciding between words from our own supplement. After all, what could Testostertones and taco trucks have to do with Whitman College? (For the answers to these questions, try YouTube for the former, and, well—you may just have to try La Monarcha for yourself when you’re on campus.) Have fun choosing words of ours that may speak to you (for a variety of reasons), and if all else fails, tell us about three words of your own that are both integral to who you are and lead you to believe that you would do well in our community. It may take a bit of extra time now, but when you’re writing your thesis in our 24/7 library with a scrumptious burrito by your side, you’ll be glad you did.