Whittier College

College review by Lisa Bleich

I taught marketing full time at Whittier College from 2002-2004.  When I left, Whittier was a 1,200 student small liberal arts college with financial troubles and relatively low retention rate of 78%. In spite of its financial woes, it was a wonderful place for students to learn to think critically largely due to the fantastic, caring professors who helped nurture their students into scholars. I went back last week for the first time in 9 years and was thrilled to see that Whittier grew its undergraduate student body to 1,600 students, built a new student center, athletic facility, dorms, and cafeteria and implemented numerous first-year initiatives to increase retention to 85%. They did all of this while maintaining the wonderful faculty and student interaction.

We had the opportunity to meet Professor Christine Scott from the psychology department. She described herself as Mary Poppins in the Marine Corps. “I love the C student who has the potential to be a B student. I push them to think about why they are here? I am your CEO, let’s go for grades. A stands for advancement. B you belong in Co, C you are stamping your time card. D Demotion, F you are fired. If you have a disability, I will work with you, but it doesn’t mean you get to shirk your responsibilities. I help students figure out what their reasonable accommodations are to help them in their career. Some students need more guidance and structure and I can provide them that, but I expect them to do their part to become successful.”

Whittier tour guide

Professor Scott exemplifies the type of relationship that students build with their professors.  One of the students on the student panel echoed this.  He joked that strong relationships with faculty are both a blessing and a curse because they know you so well, so you have to show up for class.  On the plus side all the students talked about how Whittier helped them grow as scholars and people.

The students at Whittier are highly diverse with a large Hispanic and first generation population.  About 20% of the students are commuters, but freshmen are required to live on campus.  There is a small little town within walking distance with some shops and restaurants, but after the first year most students have cars.

Whittier student panel

Whittier recently implemented a leadership development program called LEAP that mentors students and provides leadership training.  Some other interesting programs are living learning communities; students live with other students from their first year writing seminars to foster learning outside of the classroom. Whittier also offers a Jan term. These classes meet every day for three weeks and provide students a wide range of learning opportunities from travelling with a business professor to China to travelling to Greece to learn about Greek Mythology.  Some other interesting course titles include Japanese Ghost Stories and Stress and Disease in the 21st Century. Another unique program is the Whittier Scholars program, which allows students to create their own major.  Our tour guide had created a major around politics, film, and marketing with the goal of going into political marketing. The most popular majors are business, science, education and psychology.

Whittier offers generous merit aid between $15K to $25K per year.

Whittier is a great school for students looking for a nurturing, but challenging academic environment close to Los Angeles.

Whittier College

13406 E. Philadelphia St.

Whittier, CA 90608

Main Telephone: 562.907.4200

Admission Telephone: 562.907.4238



Whittier College
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