Hguyen and Lauth Kathy Nguyen ’13 points out Cordiner Hall to prospective student Caroline Lauth, whom Nguyen hosted on campus this spring.

When Lea Negrin ’13 went to a campus job fair the second week of her first semester at Whitman, she had no doubts about what she wanted to do.

“I knew I wanted to be a host even if it wasn’t a paying job,” she said.

Negrin is one of the 70 or so students on campus who enthusiastically welcomed and hosted nearly 500 prospective students or “prospies” during their overnight visits to campus in 2009-10.

Part of the impetus for hosting is to give back. After mixed experiences touring other schools, Isabella Lowery ’13 remembers having a great experience visiting Whitman. “Everyone was super nice, accommodating and willing to hang out with me, and that made me want to come to Whitman,” she said. “I wanted to host so I could do the same thing.”

Students are willing to host on a regular basis because they have a passion to share what they love about Whitman. It’s something that students like Kathy Nguyen ’13 and Nick Tacke ’13 found themselves doing naturally as they talked to younger friends on the phone.

“When I heard there was an opportunity to talk about Whitman to people who were really interested, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” said Tacke.

An overnight stay provides prospies with an opportunity to see more of campus, although the most lasting part of the visit experience is not the place but the people.

“The No. 1 thing prospies tell me they like about Whitman is the close sense of community and friendliness of the students,” Tacke said.

Anne Thatcher, associate director of admission, agreed. “It often all comes down to that current student contact,” she said. “Hearing how other students have gone through the process can help students figure out if Whitman is right for them.”

Tacke Nicholas Tacke

Prospective students also find the class discussions interesting and like that the professors know and get along well with the students, said Tacke. “They get a good sense of the Whitman classroom experience.”

Outside the classroom, student hosts enjoy showing prospies what it’s like to live here. Some nights are filled with activities — Interest House or club events, lectures and films, Nguyen said. But when nothing is formally scheduled, students have an equally good time.

One quiet Sunday night, Lowery remembered, “I showed them around campus, and we got ice cream from Reid (Campus Center) and played cards.” Other times, she said, “we just watch movies together.”

Hosting prospective students is a chance “to meet people before they arrive on campus,” Lowery said. “I want to be their friend when they come to Whitman.”

Editor’s note: Any high school junior or senior can schedule an overnight visit from Sundays to Thursdays. Three programs — the Garrett Sherwood Scholarship, Visit Scholarships and Whitman Scholars programs — help provide the opportunity for students with financial need and academic merit to visit Whitman. For details visit the Office of Admission.