Whitman College sees 40 percent increase in applications

Stefanie Botelho's picture

Whitman College received 3,791 applications for its class of 2018, a drastic 40 percent increase over last year. The College—which typically hovers around a 49 percent acceptance rate—has admitted 1,441 applicants so far, bringing its admit rate down to a highly selective 39.5 percent for the current year.

Whitman College Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Tony Cabasco, credited the recent growth to a number of new initiatives.

“We implemented new, innovative software that allowed for more meaningful and frequent communication with prospects; expanded our social media efforts; and reached out to larger number of students who were SAT or ACT test takers,” he said.

Whitman College also is now waiving the application fee for applicants who submit by December 1, and giving students who submit applications by December 15 the opportunity to be considered for several scholarship and grant options.

“All of these things combined to increase the number of prospective students who heard about Whitman and then decided to apply.”

A highly-ranked liberal arts college located in eastern Washington, Whitman College attracts students from its home state, nearby states such as Oregon and California, but also from around the country and the world. This year’s admitted students came from 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Saipan in the Northern Marianas, and from 30 nations. The admitted class of 2018 includes 72 international students from China, South Korea, Canada, India, Ghana, Mexico and 25 other countries.

Connecting with prospective international students, and engaging with them and their families as they make higher education decisions—sometimes from half a world away—is sometimes a challenge, says Cabasco. “The admission office made a concerted effort with additional travel to Asia and continued its partnership with a number of partner organizations around the world including the United World Colleges and Zawadi Africa in Kenya. Admission staff also interviewed some of the international applicants via Skype.”

A large increase in applications does have a downside, says Cabasco. The admission staff had to read 1,000 more applications than a year ago and had to make even more difficult decisions as they evaluated grades, transcripts, essays, test scores, talents, and extra-curricular work.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to admit all the talented students who applied,” he says.

For the students admitted to the class of 2018, the median GPA is 3.88 (on an unweighted 4.0 scale) and test scores are 680 SAT Reading, 670 SAT Math, 680 SAT Writing, and a 31 ACT composite.

For Whitman’s admission officers, the work is not done until after May 1, the date by which national candidates must inform colleges of their plans.

“We say yes to them, and then wait for them to say yes to us,” says Cabasco. If Cabasco’s estimates are correct, a total of 395 freshmen and 20 transfer students are will say “yes” and will join Whitman College in the fall.