Marie Whalen, Associate Director of International Admissions and Recruitment at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, shares a brief overview of her institution, her views on the value of IELTS in evaluating students’ English readiness for university study, as well as an overview of the U.S. college admissions process.
Describe your institution in 5 words or less:
Rigorous, inclusive, supportive, faith-filled
For what is your institution known abroad?
Whitworth is best known for its academic excellence and a welcoming, supportive environment for international students.
What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)
- Health Sciences
What are the top 5 countries represented at your college?
- South Korea
How international is your institution?
We have students from 41 countries currently enrolled, which is an achievement for a smaller liberal arts institution, and that international diversity is intentional.
Do you accept IELTS scores for admissions and do you trust this as a good indicator of a student’s English ability?
IELTS enables us to assess the applicant’s skill overall as well as in the individual areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening.
As a well-recognized and reliable assessment tool, our international admissions committee can look at an IELTS band score and know instantly what the English level at which the applicant is able to function.
Additionally, we can see if there is one specific area where the student can be successful but may need some additional support, such as writing, for example.
We also appreciate that the verbal section is done with a live interview vs. with a computer. IELTS is a critical part of determining admissibility in our international admission process.
Can you explain the difference between rolling admissions, early decision, early action, and regular decision at U.S. colleges?
Many U.S. colleges and universities offer rolling admission. This is a process that allows students to apply within a wide time range of time rather than submitting to specific tight deadline, like January 1st, for example.
However, rolling admission also means that students are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis, so places can fill up. Once places for a class are full, applications won’t be accepted. If applying to a school with rolling admission, it can be better to apply earlier than later.
Some U.S. institutions, usually highly selective, offer Early Decision (ED). Students submit their applications early and receive a decision early. If a student applies to a university ED, then they are promising to attend that institution, if admitted.
An ED contract—and it is a contract—should be entered into carefully, as it is binding, and there is not necessarily a guarantee that the ED school will provide the level of financial aid a family needs.
If a student is admitted to their ED institution, they are required to withdraw all other college applications. Students should only apply ED if they are certain they want to attend the ED institution and they have assessed both their financial situation and type and level of aid offered by the ED school.
Early Action (EA), like ED, gives students the opportunity to apply early to institutions and receive a decision early.
However, unlike ED, Early Action is not a contract, and not binding. Students can apply to multiple institutions that offer EA. If a student is admitted EA to 5 U.S. colleges, for example, they can choose which one to attend. There are a very limited number of colleges that offer Restrictive or Single Early Action, requiring students to apply EA to only one institution.
Many institutions offer some combination of ED, EA and Regular Decision. Whitworth, for example, offers Early Action I and Early Action II, as well as Regular Decision. A regular decision deadline is the deadline after any ED or EA deadlines and is usually considered the final deadline for applying.