Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU)
College review by Lisa Bleich
I spent last week touring several Ohio schools with a group of college counselors throughout the country. Overall, the people in Ohio are extremely friendly and down-to-earth. The Midwest really does have a distinct feel. I also drove through Ohio State, which is a beautiful, large state campus right in Columbus. We ate dinner in the “hip” part of downtown Columbus with a collection of restaurants, galleries, and shops.
OWU is small, liberal arts college outside of Columbus, OH. The campus is pretty, but oddly configured. Our tour guide, Michelle, from NYC, aptly described it as a dog bone with the academic quad on the one side and the residential quad on the other end and a skinny town in between.
OWU has a very generous merit aid program with almost 95% of students receiving some form of financial aid. The average package is $17,000 for merit. They also have an honors program for the top 20% of their incoming class. Top students are invited to campus to interview and do an in-class writing assignment to be judged for even more merit aid, which can be as much as full tuition. As a result, there is a very diverse group of students both racially, ethnically, geographically and socio-economically on campus. 14% of the students are international coming primarily from Pakistan, India, China, and the Caribbean.
40% of the students play varsity sports and many more do intramurals. They are DIII sports with soccer and lacrosse as the strongest sports. They also have DI golf.
A new president arrived in 2008 who has initiated a robust program in experiential and global learning. They have a very strong initiative called TPT (Theory to Practice to Theory). The idea is that students learn in the classroom, then travel for 2 weeks abroad with a professor and get hands on experience and then bring this back to the classroom. One student described how he got interested in US/Muslim interactions after taking a political science course. Through the TPT program, the student was able to write a grant to go to Pakistan with one of his Pakistani classmates to study US/Muslim relations in Pakistan. After the student’s “practical” experience he learned more “theory” by studying political theories on this subject. Students can request money for any global “TPT” grant that matches their interests.
There is a new field house, swimming pool and recreation center along with a new science center, however many of the buildings are a bit dated. In spite of the lack of modernity in the student center, it was very cozy and packed with students studying and talking in clusters. There was one student playing the piano, others sitting on the ground in a circle and others boisterously chattering away. Students seemed happy.
The strongest programs at OWU are social sciences, sciences (particularly biology, zoology, and genetics), and the arts. They also have a very strong graphic arts major. The admission rate to medical school is 90%, which is very high. I sat in on a Clinical Neuroscience class. The professor was quirky and hip, sporting purple pumps, interesting jewelry and an ankle tattoo. The class of 32 students asked questions for clarification and copiously took notes. At the end, there was more interaction and limited discussion, but it was primarily a lecture of material that could have been gathered from a textbook. It felt a little like a high school biology class as the professor and students discussed antibodies, T-Cells, and B-cells.
OWU is a good school for students who want strong interaction with their professors, a diverse student body, and if they are strong students, could benefit from generous merit aid.