Today, in addition to visiting Connecticut College, we visited Wesleyan University which is located in Middletown, CT. I took notes during the campus tour on behalf of the ILC. Before visiting it, I had no idea how intense, opportunity-filled, and student-oriented Wesleyan is.
Despite being a research university, Wesleyan caters to the student. It does not have any teacher assistants (TAs), rather all students are taught directly by professors. ALL of these professors at Wesleyan happen to have Ph.Ds in their respective subject. What really amazed me, however, was their low student-to-teacher ratio of 9:1. Compare that to UCs and CSUs that have student-to-teacher ratios of three digits.
We arrived a tad late to the tour, but we caught up at Judd Hall, the psychology building. This facility was actually the first building on a college campus to be dedicated to the sciences. Nearby our tour guide, Jegadish, pointed out a building that houses a co-ed literary society. It actually used to be the 4th fraternity on campus. Wesleyan greek life is not quite a major focus of the school, however. It does not have any sororities (girls can apply to fraternities if they want to because of its non-discrimination policy) and only 8% of the student body are members of fraternities. What interested me more, however, were their so-called "anti-frat", which is less of a fraternity and more of a collection of students who are focused on music and the arts. Jegadish mentioned that there are many social activities to preocccupy students during the weekend in addition to watching performances. People sometimes leave the campus and go to the quaint and urban town of Middletown. Major attractions there include local theater and laser tag.
Next, we passed by the Olin Library. It was actually designed by Henry Bacon, who designed the Lincoln Memorial as well. In addition to this library, Wesleyan has a library focused on the arts and a library focused on science. They have a vast amount of resources at these three libraries (1.2 million volumes in total!), but if a student needs yet additional information it easy for him or her to do so. Wesleyan is a member of a library consortium with Trinity and Connecticut College. This means that one can order any book from any of those two schools and receive it within a week. The library is also a social place.
After this, we were led to the science center. It is used by students learning and/or majoring in subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, math, astronomy, etc. Wesleyan actually has the highest amount of funding in the sciences in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). This is due to the fact that as a research university, Wesleyan students and professors constantly publish journals, which in turn gains the school more funding. The most interesting elements of the Wesleyan science department, however, are their 4&1 and 3&2 programs. The 4&1 program allows students who have gotten a BA in science and psychology to attend Wesleyan for a 5th year for free and receive an MA upon completion. The 3&2 program allows engineering majors to attend college for three years on the Wesleyan campus, then to take two more years at either Caltech or Columbia University. Besides these amazing programs, Wesleyan students with a 3.5 GPA or higher have an 85% chance of getting into medical school.
We visited the athletics department afterwards. It looks visually appealing because it was recently renovated in 2004. Although Wesleyan is a division 3 school, it is competitive. 20% of the student body is involved in sports. They have 29 varsity teams and a competitive intramural league. The athletic facilities are free and open to all students and the building itself is composed of a gym, an indoor skating rink, a basketball court, and a pool.
My favorite part of Wesleyan would have to be their residential system, however. The college follows a principle of "progressive independence". This means that starting as a freshman, a student is given less dependent living situations until he or she is a senior. Specifically, freshmen stay in a freshmen dorm (we were able to go inside one, it's spacious and comfortable), usually with a roommate. Sophomores live in program houses. Program houses are basically houses that each have a theme that unites and motivates its residents. For example, our tour guide told us that he lived in La Maison Francais (The French House) his sophomore year. They would have hours in which they could only speak French and they would do French things such as eat cheese and pate. Next, juniors live in apartment complexes. Lastly, seniors relish in the luxury of living in 1-6 person beautiful houses. The downside (but slice of reality) is that they have to clean their own bathrooms and such. More facts about Wesleyan housing are that it is guaranteed for all four years and is all co-ed (except for 1 female floor and 1 male floor).
The most important class of the day is quite excellent at Wesleyan. Eating, that is. They serve gourmet food in their cafeteria and the system is based upon progressive independence as well. Freshmen start out with an all you can eat meal plan at the dining center. As students mature, however, they are given fewer meals, but simultaneously presented with more points. Points can be used at other, more fancy dining facilities. By the way, although one may gain weight by eating lots of the tasty Wesleyan food, it does not mean one is not eating healthy. The school is focused on giving its students a healthy diet by using organic and locally grown ingredients as much as possible.
Lastly, I learned many facts about Wesleyan that are important to the prospective student. It has a student body of which 1/3 are minorities. It is very welcolming to students from a myriad of economic backgrounds. For example, it hosts a Student of Color Weekend in April. It has a travel assistance program to help students with transportation to and from Wesleyan on long weekends. 9% of the student body is international. 50% of the students come from public high schools and 50% come from private institutions. The person in charge of the school's newspaper is actually an ex-editor in chief of The New York Times. One of the most useful facts I learned was that it accepts the Common Application without any supplements.
In conclusion, Wesleyan University is a school that any motivated student should be honored to get into. It possesses a variety of majors and clubs and opportunities. It has a beautiful campus and truly cares about the undergraduates as individuals. It is very competitive however: the median SAT score (by section) is 710-760. I never thought of applying to this school before today, but now I am considering adding it to my list of schools because it impressed me in many aspects.