WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- When the Princeton Review conducted its latest survey of 59,000 students at 331 colleges and universities across the nation, Whitman College was ranked No. 1 on the accessibility and helpfulness of its faculty members outside the classroom.
The annual survey, which gives a top 20 ranking in over 60 categories, also gave Whitman high marks in such areas as overall student happiness and the popularity of programs ranging from the college theatre and radio station to intramural sports.
Results of the survey were published in the latest edition of the Princeton Review's guidebook, The 331 Best Colleges. The Princeton Review is a New York City-based educational services company.
The annual guidebook, which includes in-depth profiles of various schools, notes that the student-faculty ratio at Whitman is 10 to one and that all classes are taught by professors rather than teaching assistants. Based on survey results, the guidebook also gives a 95 percent approval rating to Whitman professors for being both "accessible" and "interesting."
Wrote one Whitman student in a survey response: "My professors are always willing to go the extra mile: approving a thesis for a (professional) paper, reading drafts, holding long office hours, and staying home the night before a test to answer our questions over the phone."
Other Whitman survey responses, the guidebook reports, are peppered with anecdotes about "professors who invite their classes to their homes for dinner, administrators who regularly eat with students in the dining hall, and a president who walks the halls of the library corridors handing out cookies during finals week. This comfort factor softens the blow dealt by Whitman's extremely rigorous academic program."
In the category judging overall student happiness, Whitman ranked No. 5. In the category labeled "School Runs Like Butter," Whitman drew a No. 6 ranking on the smoothness with which the school operates.
"The problem at Whitman is that there is too much to do," reported one student. "Any given night offers five different lectures, movies, presentations, parties and dances."
In other categories, Whitman ranked No. 3 in popularity of its theatre program and No. 10 in popularity of its campus radio station. On popularity of intramural sports, Whitman was ranked No. 2, trailing only Notre Dame in that category.
In the category on the number of hours students spend studying outside the classroom, Whitman was ranked No. 12. "No matter what they say," wrote one Whitman student, "everyone at Whitman is a nerd in some way. The biggest partiers still care about their grades and are still here to study. This links us all."
Whitman's survey also indicated that its students interact easily across socio-economic differences. The school ranked No. 12 in that area.
One Whitman respondent noted that "there is considerably less ethnic diversity at Whitman and in the Pacific Northwest in general than in my hometown of L.A., but Whitman's admissions officers do a great job of finding people with extraordinary backgrounds and experiences. This makes up for our outward appearance of homogeneity."
Dave Holden, Whitman News Service, (509) 527-5902