Going in to this trip, we really didn’t know that much about the private schools on the list, including Whittier. Honestly, the only reason some were on the list is because we needed filler. If we were going all the way out to California to look at schools, we certainly weren’t going to just tour 2 or 3 schools, we were going to make it worthwhile.
When we arrived, we could tell this was going to be quite different from the schools we’d seen this far. Remember when I talked about “country club schools” in a previous post? This was the first one that we’d seen that appeared to fit the bill at first glance. It came off as very prim and proper, which generally isn’t our style. I’m not bashing that in any way, but we’re more shorts/tshirt/sandals kind of people, so initially it didn’t come across as something I thought she’d like.
We got to the admissions building a little before the tour, and the woman at the front desk handed us a water bottle (nice touch 🙂 ) and some information and told us the tour would start shortly. There was only one other family on the tour, so it was a nice small group. Once it was time for the tour, our guide led us across the street to start the walking tour.
The campus itself is very nice, and we really only had one downside, it’s hilly. Walking up from main campus to some of the dorms and athletic fields is a bit of a hike. Good for keeping in shape, so there’s the upside :). On the way up there, she walked us past some of the main buildings, explaining what each was, while discussing some of the general admissions stats and happily answering questions along the way.
They have a really nice athletic facility that houses the pool and basketball court, among other things, with the baseball/softball fields across the parking lot. We took a quick walk through the facility before heading up to the dorms.
The dorms themselves (the ones we saw) were pretty nice as well, but we weren’t able to stay too long, as they had camps going on.
The walking tour itself wasn’t all that long in comparison to other tours (~45min, I think), but when we got back, we weren’t done. Instead of the usual group admissions presentation, each family got to meet with the admissions counselor for their region to get a look into the process and ask questions. Very nice touch. I completely understand why that’s not easy to do at a place like UCSB or UCLA, there are simply too many people on a given tour for individual interviews, but at the private schools it was a welcome change.
During the meeting, we got the normal admissions talk, sprinkled with their statistics, and he gave us plenty of opportunity to ask questions. The nice thing about this format is that he was able to take the time to ask our daughter about her current school, grades, class load for senior year, and what she was interested in focusing on in college, and use that to tailor the admissions information to her. We came out of the meeting feeling very differently about the school than we did going in, so I guess first impressions aren’t everything after all. 🙂
On leaving, we discussed this school most of the ride home. I think at this point, she’s torn. It’s a little smaller than she wants, but it helped her see the value that small schools bring to the table with the personal attention. I think she’s still on the fence with this one, but once we sit down and go over all the notes, she may give this one a serious look. Other than the price tag, I think my wife and I both came out with a very positive view of it :).