Is College Better if there is a Big City Nearby?

I don’t know, cause I don’t go to a College that is near a big city. But I imagine not.

Last night I was having a conversation with a prospective student, and they raised a big concern that I myself had when I was going through my college search. That concern was “Isn’t Walla Walla too small and boring?” That question was the only one that kept me from immediately picking Whitman when I got accepted. It was the same question my parents kept telling me to consider. And it was the only one that I couldn’t quiet come to terms with, even after I picked Whitman and sent in my acceptance. But I want to tell you, DO NOT BE AFRAID. The answer to that question is NO.

In italics I have included selected excerpts of what I was saying to this prospective student last night mixed with additional things that I wish I had included in the conversation.

Right now the city/town of the schools you are applying to is going to seem like a huge deal. But as you’re looking at schools you need to consider what it is going to be like when you actually get to school and have to study! You don’t need a big city near you to distract you from your studies. And with big cities it is very often the case that the dorms and campus empties out on the weekends, or you have to commute long distances to have “fun” with your friends. Imagine if you would be happy with students all leaving campus on the weekends to go into the city, and feeling obligated to follow your friends out into the city each weekend to have fun.

In my opinion, what makes Whitman the amazing tight-knit community where everybody knows and loves each other is Walla Walla. The school doesn’t get desserted each weekend…in fact, if you go downtown on the weekend its a 15 minute walk that you’ll usually take with your section-mates to go to the farmers market, grab some pastries and walk back to enjoy them on Ankeny field. Or, during the summer its a 10 minute walk down to Brights candies for an ice cream cone, that you’ll enjoy together on your way back to play frisbee. You spend time with your friends, talking with them and getting closer and the very act of going to downtown Walla Walla is an activity. You bond over the small things that only a small charming town like Walla Walla can offer.

Some people worry that Walla Walla is a town that makes college less fun. But the thing is, the town is what allows Whitman to provide the ideal “college experience”. Its “smallness” allows for you to meet and get to know everybody, because you aren’t all running off to different parts of some big city whenever you are looking to go out. And part of the “college experience”, in my opinion, isn’t to go to the city looking for fun things to do as your idea of “going out”, rather, it is all the great things that the college itself provides as its own fun. Be it the party scene at Whitman, the amazing events, speakers, and activities the Whitman Events Board funds, organizes and puts on, or the quirky, awesome, and uniquely Whitman things that only Whitties can make up for fun to do with each other! That is what the real “college experience” should be: self sustaining and unique experiences. Cause, and I’m serious this is real truth right here–> anything the big city offers at other schools while you are in college are the same things that you are going to have the opportunity to experience and enjoy when you are graduated anyways! So why not go to a place where you can get a unique experience??

And you think right now that you wanna go to a school with lots of activities around it to keep you “occupied”, “Busy”, and “Happy”. Well, when you get to Whitman you will be occupied with all the amazing people you meet and live with, you will be BUSY AS HELL with school work, and you will be Happy because all your friends live with you and don’t run away each weekend, cause they are all on campus doing all the AMAZING AND FUN THINGS there is to do on campus.

I honestly didn’t believe my tourguide when she told me that there is always something to do every single night of the week at Whitman. (And your schedule will be so packed with school work, extra curriculars, and other fun events that are happening at the same time that you won’t have time to go to them all, let alone go out to the city!)….the only reason I actually picked Whitman was cause the people there were so nice and I felt like I fit there really well. But when I got here, I discovered that my tourguide wasn’t lying to me, and I absolutely didn’t need a big city near by to be happy too.

In the end I want to reemphasize the crux of my argument. The small town of Walla Walla that Whitman resides in is a town that facilitates an amazing community feeling among our student population that very few schools, in my opinion, are able to foster like Whitman has been able to.

It is a legitimate concern to have; the concern of the town being too small. However, I assure you, almost every student arrives at Whitman with this concern, you aren’t and wont be the only one. But I want to further assure you, almost all of those with this concern discover after just a few few weeks, even days (for me at least), that the small town of Walla Walla was a non-issue the whole time, rather it is actually the reason Whitman is so uniquely Whitman. We study together, eat together, go out together, live our lives together, and enjoy all that is college, and the “college experience” together in the same place. That place being Whitman College, in Walla Walla Washington.

P.S. we were named “Friendliest Small Town in the Nation”



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