Hello! I go to IWU! I'm a freshman this year, so I've only been here a little while. Yes, well regarded in the Midwest. Some people don't know it simply because it's so small, but that's the only reason some people seem to have not heard of it. For people who know small schools, they know it's a great school academically. Yes, it's a small LAC of about 2100 students, all undergrad, no grad students. From my research when I looked at colleges, what I've seen here, and what I've heard, it would be well on par with those other schools if not above those academically. Probably tougher to get into than some of those. What major are you interested in? If you're into music, theatre, or science, definitely look into it!
^^ I was surprised to read that Loyola and DePaul were as selective as Illinois Wesleyan. Not that I doubted you because you have a solid track record, but I did look up the admission stats and sure enough IWU falls right between those two Chicago universities. Loyola accepts 55% of their applicants while DePaul accepts 64% (IWU admits 61%).
IWU's 4 and 6-year graduation rates are significantly higher than Loyola's or DePaul's, however (by which I mean >10%). I would guess that the relative wealth of the parents of students at the respective schools is only part of the explanation.
I graduated from U of I in the mid 90s, but applied to and was accepted to IWU.
I don't know the exact number, but I am pretty sure that Wesleyan's average ACT score for incoming freshman is around a 28, which is pretty similar to U of I. It may have a lower acceptance rate than DePaul or Loyola, but with the higher test averages, I think it's considered a better school than either of those two schools.
One major knock on IWU is the size of the school. I visited my friends there a few times, and it wasn't very big. It kind of reminded me of high school. Also, Bloomington-Normal is pretty conservative, so it's not as easy as Champaign-Urbana to drink alcohol and party when you are under 21.