WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The theater and intramural sports programs remain very popular among students at Whitman College, according to the Princeton Review and its latest survey of 59,000 students at 331 colleges and universities across the nation.
Whitman also ranks among the top 20 schools in terms of overall student happiness.
For the second consecutive year, Whitman earned a No. 3 national ranking on the popularity of its Harper Joy Theatre program. Only Boston's Emerson College and New York's Ithaca College drew higher rankings in the theater category.
Whitman retained a top 10 ranking in the intramural sports category, although it slipped a few notches to No. 7, down from No. 2 a year ago.
Results of the survey are published in the 2001 edition of the Princeton Review's guidebook, The 331 Best Colleges. The annual guidebook includes in-depth profiles of various schools. The Princeton Review is a New York City-based educational services company.
The latest survey, which gives a top 20 ranking in over 60 categories, also gave Whitman high marks in such areas as overall student happiness and strength of student study habits. Whitman ranks No. 14 on study habits and No. 19 on overall student happiness.
The annual guidebook, which includes in-depth profiles of various schools, notes that Whitman's student-faculty ratio is 10-to-1, and that all classes are taught by professors rather than teaching assistants. The profile on Whitman describes the school as "one of the best kept secrets west of the Mississippi." It also notes that Whitman combines "a beautiful setting, a rigorous curriculum, an exceptionally willing faculty, and a helpful administration."
Whitman faculty and administrators "strive to create a homey atmosphere in which students can learn," notes the profile. One Whitman student explained that "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."
Whitman students also are "bullish" on their classmates, according to survey results. "The people are the best part of Whitman," one student wrote. "Everyone is super-friendly and down-to-earth. Plus, they're surprisingly open-minded and accepting of new ideas."
"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."
Dave Holden, Whitman News Service, (509) 527-5902