College review by Lisa Bleich
Wesleyan is located in Middletown, CT, aptly name as it is two hours in either direction Boston or New York. Wesleyan has an open campus, which is somewhat non-descript, but had a gothic feel to some of the buildings. The buildings form a perimeter around a large green area called the hill. However, as you tour the campus, you do not get a sense of how it pulls together until you are on the top of the hill looking down at the buildings. Wesleyan has its own grocery store, where students can cash in meal “points” towards food and other items. The dorms are air-conditioned (a big plus given the recent heat wave). Wesleyan promotes “progressive independence” in their residential life going from living in a freshman dorm to a themed “program” house, e.g. writing, Russian, Science, etc. sophomore and junior year to senior apartments. Students at Wesleyan are proactive, doers, who are actively engaged in their learning and their community. While Wesleyan recommends that students limit themselves to seven areas of activity (4 classes plus 3 other), many students do many more. (I got tired listening to all the many things that the students are involved in.) The idea of academic engagement, being involved in campus life and the community was an overriding theme of the school.
Wesleyan is well known for its strong arts and film program, however they are equally strong in the sciences with impressive opportunities for research among undergraduates. The film studies program is highly selective and students must be admitted to the major their sophomore year as the classes become much smaller for film majors. Therefore, it is easy to take an introductory film class, but more difficult to take upper division classes if you are not a major. Given its prowess, Wesleyan brings back numerous alumni in the entertainment industry for lectures and movie screenings. There is a very small Greek population (4% male and 2% female), however there is no lack of partying. There was a little disconnect because some of the students described their social life as filled with lectures, films, concerts, dance shows, and theater performed by students and professionals, our tour guide said that most Wesleyan students like to party. I asked about the reputed “drug” culture and while there is definitely a small population who over-indulges; there is no pressure to drink or smoke weed. However, it is widely available to those who want it. The university’s main concern is with the safety of the students, not policing them. What Admissions Looks For The Admission’s Representative wants to see students that have challenged themselves in everything! “So even if you are not good in science, we want to see that you have taken physics, purely for the challenge. We want to see that you have taken advantage of every opportunity presented to you at your school!” When I asked her what overriding characteristics pull together a Wesleyan student, she launched into the standard spiel, but kept emphasizing how they looked for students that are engaged. I also found this threaded through the philosophy because their class profile sheet called out that
- 80% of students have taken Chemistry, Physics, and Biology.
- 80% had taken a fourth year of one foreign language.
- 82% had taken Calculus.
- 81% were in the top 10% of their class.
- Wesleyan acceptance rate was 20% in 2010. The Median ACT/SAT was 32/2190.
Wesleyan is good for a student who enjoys the arts, but wants a broad based liberal arts college. Students must also enjoy being busy all the time and taking advantage of the many opportunities available at Wesleyan. On the downside, only 40% of the graduating class of 2010 were employed 4 months out. They are revamping their career services to address this. The largest employers are JP Morgan-Chase, the Peace Corps, Teach for America, Wesleyan, and Google. [slideshow]