First Year Students

Students in Classroom

What Whittier College Looks for in a Student

No surprise here, the most important factor we consider in applicants is high school preparation. We’re looking for:

  • High school coursework: Four years of English; three or more years of mathematics; three or more years of science; three or more years of social science; and at least two years of one foreign language
  • Diversity and difficulty in the courses you take, such as honors, AP, and International Baccalaureate courses.
  • Good grades throughout high school. They demonstrate ability, as well as your willingness to work hard and engage in a variety of subjects.
  • Test Scores. Starting with the class of 2021, Whittier has adopted a test-optional policy. Read more about the policy requirements. If you decide to submit test scores, we ask you to submit your scores from either the SAT I or the ACT. If you submit both, we will emphasize your stronger result. How important are these scores? They are only one of the factors we consider in the admission evaluation. We know that some students don’t “test well” because of various issues, perhaps including simple fear! You might want to take the PSAT (as a high school junior) and/or the PLAN (offered by ACT to high school sophomores) to familiarize yourself with these testing formats and as better preparation for senior year testing.
  • Activities outside the classroom (which you will have an opportunity to detail for us in your application) are of special interest to us at Whittier. We notice, appreciate, and reward students who have been involved in theater, musical groups, special interest clubs, community service, church or civic work, student publications, sports, or student government. Why? Students who have been active bring some great skills to our campus, including leadership, time management, and collaboration, and they usually use those skills and interests to enhance activities at Whittier.
  • Recommendations: Whittier wants you to submit a counselor recommendation, as well as one from a classroom teacher from an academic subject. You are welcome - but not required - to submit one or more others from, say, a teacher in a different subject, a coach, an employer, etc.
  • While not required, we highly recommend all applicants schedule a visit to campus. You can also speak with an admission counselor after the tour if you have any questions or would like to discuss your application in more detail.