A Whittier College education is transformative. When you graduate in four short years, you will be a different person than when you entered. You will be exposed to a range of people and ideas that will cause you to think about and question who you are and the roles you can and will play in bettering society. You will quickly experience the fact that learning is an exercise in complexity.

Rather than focusing on discrete facts, memorization, and knowledge produced by others, your professors will ask you to rethink, unlearn, and reconfigure what you thought you knew. The facts, of course, still matter. However, the focus on our campus will be to approach texts and data with careful and critical evaluation of what we can know, how we come to know it, and what we still don’t know. You will also be asked to apply that knowledge beyond the classroom. As you explore those opportunities beyond the classroom, you will start to see the contributions that you can make to Whittier College, the community, and the world.

Whittier College values community as an integral component of the Four C’s of our liberal arts curriculum: Community, Communication, Cultural Perspectives, and Connections. Given that your Whittier experience will be complex, we want you to begin grappling with that notion and focus on developing an appreciation of community right from the start! This is why our campus is requiring all of our new students to read Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle.  This book shows the power of community and storytelling to transform even the most dire and violent situations. It also demonstrates the importance of each human being--because change and growth are collaborative, and we're all in this project together. Finally, Tattoos on the Heart is a beautifully written book that embodies exactly what it teaches. Some of Father Boyle's stories are hysterically funny, others heartbreaking--but re-shaping our worlds through narrative makes human community, as well as liberal education, possible. This book gives us just one vivid example of how that happens--especially as we read and discuss it together.

This book relates well to the Four C’s and will be the foundation for the intellectual conversations during your early days and weeks as new members of our community. We are asking that our new students read the book before they arrive for New Student Orientation. This type of preparation will enable you to contribute to the many, and varied, intellectual conversations you will have during the early days and weeks as a part of our community. 

Thanks to our friends at Follett, the Whittier College Bookstore will provide you a complimentary copy of this book. The bookstore mailed this to you directly in July. If you did not receive the book by July 15, 2015, Professor Gil Gonzalez at During orientation you will discuss and write about the book with your faculty and peer mentors as a way of introducing you to Whittier College class experience. 

Upcoming First-Year Experience Events