Giving College Insight from Empathy and Experience

November 8, 2021

Allison WillrichPrepare as many questions as you can before a campus tour. Talk to the locals. And it’s OK if your parents “embarrass” you.

These are just a few of the tips Allison Willrich ’23 shares in a blog post, “College-Visit Tips From a Campus Tour Guide,” for the scholarship website FastWeb. Since publishing at the end of August, the post has been trending on the popular site (owned by the Monster global employment company). Almost two months later, it’s still the third-highest blog post in FastWeb’s “What’s Trending” section.

Although she’s currently taking a break from giving tours for the admission office so she can focus more on school—she’s designed her own advertising major through the Whittier Scholars Program—Willrich is still blogging for the scholarship site. Ultimately, she hopes to provide the kind of peer advice she didn’t feel she had during her own journey from high school to higher education.

“I never really resonated with the people who were the ones giving advice about the college search,” she said. “I told [FastWeb that] maybe everyone won’t resonate with my experience, but there is maybe a good portion of people that will connect with me and my journey.”

Contributing one post a month, Willrich has also recently spotlighted the best college town coffee shops—including the La Monarca chain, which sports a cozy location near the Whittier College campus. She has more ideas in the works, including a post about the adventure of studying abroad.

Blogging has been a natural extension of her role as a student ambassador at Whittier. The natural extrovert loves connecting with students and parents alike, meeting each where they are. As with her online writing, she wants to help people who were in her position not long ago as they figure out which college is right for them.

“It’s cool to have that ability to help people find the right path for them,” she said. “I think as a high school student, it’s kind of stressful. There’s this real big pressure to perform. They’re trying to apply for these colleges. It gets kind of scary. You kind of experience imposture syndrome,” she said. “I felt like it was my calling to uplift them and allow them to dream.”

The benefit goes two ways. Willrich has noticed that as she walks families through the beautiful, close-knit Whittier campus and expounds on its many opportunities, she keeps herself in the head space of why she got excited about the College in the first place, and not “forget the magic” that brought her here, as she puts it.

She initially thought that she wanted to go to a big campus, where she thought there would be more opportunities. But then her brother—himself a Whittier student—took her on a tour of campus. They talked about what the College had to offer, particularly the chance to design a major through the Whittier Scholars Program, which he thought would be a good fit for her.

He was right. Willrich is creative and curious—a natural at observing, exploring, analyzing. The adventure of a self-designed major appealed to her. As she’s gained first-hand experience in different types of marketing and business, Willrich’s advertising major has adapted with her growing sense of what she does—and doesn’t—want to pursue in her career. Particularly in the wake of a pandemic, flexibility is key, and Willrich feels she’s prepared to be adaptable.

In fact, the COVID 19 pandemic’s reshaping of the landscape for the college-bound is one topic Willrich has on the back burner for a FastWeb blog. Looking ahead, she’s also planning to return to guiding tours for Whittier College in the spring semester. To book your own tour, visit the admission visit page.