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Wesleyan University vs Hamilton College (ED)

joseph20joseph20 3 replies1 threads New Member
I'm trying to decide where I want to send my ED application and I've narrowed it down to these two schools. I was hoping I could get some insight as to which one I should apply to. (yes, I know the deadline is very soon). I'm leaning towards Wes, but I wanted some additional opinions for me to consider. Also, if you have any additional recommendations (for colleges that I may have overlooked) please feel free to share them :)

Here is what I'm looking for in a college:
- great academics
-not a super big party culture (I'm not into that)
-not much greek life
-not super athletics focused (and dominated by athletics)
-a creative student population who is academically motivated
-good film program
-good english/creative writing programs
-a place where I can find a group of friends that I can do creative projects with
-prestige

I'm thinking of majoring in English/film, but I'm still not very sure. I would also like to stay in the New England/Mid-Atlantic/Quebec regions. If you guys could share any insights you have, that would be awesome!
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Replies to: Wesleyan University vs Hamilton College (ED)

  • taverngirltaverngirl 1087 replies30 threads Senior Member
    Wes seems like it fits better with what you're looking for, if you're okay with the much more liberal vibe than Hamilton.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2549 replies36 threads Senior Member
    I would also choose Wes, given your criteria
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  • joseph20joseph20 3 replies1 threads New Member
    I've heard that Wes is very PC culture, and I've read that some people find it annoying. Should I consider this further when applying? I lean pretty left, but I don't think I'd be a huge fan of that culture.
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  • taverngirltaverngirl 1087 replies30 threads Senior Member
    Have you visited? It was very palpable when we were there. For us, it stood out more there than at any other school we visited (+/- 40). YMMV though.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5542 replies79 threads Senior Member
    edited November 10
    Reputation and athletics are a wash. Same. Great rep. Sports. Meh.

    Although at wes there seemed to be a big, humble brag “triple major” ethos talked about during our two visits. I thought why (?), personally. I had never heard of this before or at any other school. It might be perfect for you and a great thing. Just a random observation and no provenance.

    Arts Culture. Wes.

    Campus beauty and overall center left vibe. Hamilton.

    Imho.
    edited November 10
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5944 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Both great schools. Based on how you describe what you are looking for, Wes seems like the better fit.
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  • joseph20joseph20 3 replies1 threads New Member
    edited November 10
    I have visited. I really liked both visits. Didn't notice any activism going on at the moment at Wes. Wes had a lot more people at the tour than Hamilton.
    edited November 10
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  • merc81merc81 10599 replies164 threads Senior Member
    As you've probably discovered from your own research, Wesleyan is highly recognized for its film program, while Hamilton is often recognized for writing, though each school offers courses and opportunities in both, of course.

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/top-25-american-film-schools-ranked-1231343/item/2019-top-25-film-schools-usc-1231345

    https://contently.net/2014/11/06/resources/tools/training/10-best-colleges-creative-writers/
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  • merc81merc81 10599 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited November 11
    If you might need additional college suggestions for further down the line, include Vassar in your research.

    https://www.flavorwire.com/409437/the-25-most-literary-colleges-in-america
    edited November 11
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3411 replies171 threads Senior Member
    I was in Middletown the Friday of the world-wide, U.N. Climate Change protests and there was a march around campus. By my estimate there were about a hundred to maybe 200 people involved at lunchtime on a campus of 3,000. Some people may think that's too many; others may ask, "Where were the rest of the students?" YMMV according to what part of the country you're from, neighborhood, and family attitudes toward activism.
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  • joseph20joseph20 3 replies1 threads New Member
    Great points! Is there anything else I should know?
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  • merc81merc81 10599 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited November 13
    If access to programs might be of concern, then note that Hamilton would offer you generally unrestricted freedom in selecting your courses and areas of concentration.

    Wesleyan, in contrast, may limit your range of choice in two of your areas of interest:
    Film Studies is a much sought-after major, and our limited resources require us to place restrictions on admission.
    And
    [students] should . . . be aware that they are not guaranteed a place in Creative Writing permission of instructor (POI) courses and that admission to the concentration is not guaranteed.

    https://www.wesleyan.edu/cfilm/prospective/major.html

    https://www.wesleyan.edu/writing/creativewriting.html
    edited November 13
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3411 replies171 threads Senior Member
    Supreme Irony - Much of Hamilton's surge in applications (and therefore, USNews rankings) is the result of renewed interest in its namesake, due almost entirely to the Broadway musical which was written and directed by Wesleyan alumni.
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  • apple23apple23 508 replies15 threads Member
    edited November 13
    Actually, @circuitrider, Hamilton, the play, did not reach Broadway, and thus widespread appeal, until 2015. Hamilton, the college, has remained at or about 14th in US News since at least 2014.
    edited November 13
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3411 replies171 threads Senior Member
    Actually, @circuitrider, Hamilton, the play, did not reach Broadway, and thus widespread appeal, until 2015. Hamilton, the college, has remained at or about 14th in US News since at least 2014.

    Well, actually Hamilton ranked as low as 18th in the USNews poll as recently as 2018. And, as we all know, the data collected for each year's poll lags by at least two years, meaning that the last two freshman classes were big beneficiaries of the post-Broadway debut of the musical.
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  • apple23apple23 508 replies15 threads Member
    edited November 14
    Hamilton has gone from 14th in US News in 2014 to an identical 14th currently, with a range of 12 to 18 along the way. Looking further back, it placed 15th in 2006. If a 2015 play has enhanced Hamilton's profile, this hasn't been reflected in its rankings.
    edited November 14
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3411 replies171 threads Senior Member
    Hamilton is a fine school and you have every right to be proud of its name regardless of what comes up when you google it. :smiley:
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  • JHSJHS 18503 replies72 threads Senior Member
    I have a nephew and a son-in-law both of whom graduated from Hamilton 10 years ago, and Wesleyan is extremely popular in my world. The kid next door went there, as did four other kids who grew up on our block, my son's first girlfriend, one of my virtual nieces, several good friends in my generation, and -- way back when -- my father (class of 1951, when it was a very different place).

    Based on the experience of the people I know who went there recently, both schools are great. I have written before about my nephew's dream experience at Hamilton -- he ultimately did a roll-your-own major and got incredible support from the college for it, including research grants, hiring an outside expert professor to supervise his thesis, and providing significant funding for a project that grew out of the thesis. My son-in-law's time there was more conventional, but he and his college friends are admirable, intellectual people doing interesting things in the world, and they all pretty much loved Hamilton.

    The Wesleyan people may be a little flashier. It's reputation in film and literature, and it's reputation for social activism, draws (a) a fair number of celebrity kids, and (b) a fair number of the sort of kids who get to pick which college they attend. (I even know one young woman who actually turned down Harvard to go to Wesleyan . . . although she changed her mind two weeks later and got Harvard to let her rescind her rejection of them.) It's more clearly New York City / LA oriented. Also, several of the Wes kids I know are pursuing or have obtained PhDs, which isn't as true of the Hamiltonians

    Political correctness is a big thing at Wes, but I think most of the students treat it as a source of amusement, not as a creed. It would probably drive you nuts if you are a rabid Trump supporter, but not if you are in the normal range of centrist, skeptical people.

    Wesleyan and Hamilton both have fraternities and sororities, although the fraternity system there does not resemble what you would find at most other colleges, and many students don't bother to join one.

    For practical purposes, both schools are isolated, but Hamilton is a lot more isolated. At Wesleyan, if you know someone with a car you are not much more than an hour from New York City, Providence, or Boston, and 15 minutes from New Haven or Hartford. With a little more time, you can get to any of those places and back on public transportation fairly easily. At Hamilton, there's no place more interesting than Syracuse you can go to in day-trip distance. And Clinton NY is much, much smaller than Middletown CT. Which also means Hamilton feels legitimately rural, while Wesleyan is a nice campus in a bustling , not-altogether-charming large town.
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  • merc81merc81 10599 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited November 15
    JHS wrote:
    (I even know one young woman who actually turned down Harvard to go to Wesleyan . . . although she changed her mind two weeks later and got Harvard to let her rescind her rejection of them.)

    As recorded in a Boston Globe interview, Hamilton lost a student to Harvard as well:
    Q: What is your greatest regret?

    A: Not going to Hamilton College. I never really felt comfortable at Harvard.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/15/charlie-baker-takes-proust-questionnaire/p2B2GsYFIUnYnVLsZCiX3I/story.html
    edited November 15
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  • MomInSBMomInSB 68 replies3 threads Junior Member
    The rise in applications at Hamilton has been linked to its move to need-blind admissions program, which began in 2010.

    "The Positive Impact of Going Need Blind

    Some evidence suggests colleges and universities can increase their applicant pools by becoming need blind. Hamilton College in upstate New York decided to adopt need-blind admissions for the class entering in the fall of 2010 and has seen gains in both students receiving Pell Grants and diversity measures. It also felt an immediate boost in fund-raising.
    ....

    The percentage of first-year students receiving Pell Grants rose in the immediate years after Hamilton went need blind, Inzer said. It was 13 percent in 2009-10, and then jumped to 17 percent the next year. Since then it has bounced around at generally higher levels, notching 13 percent in 2011-12 before rising to as high as 18 percent in 2012-13 and spending the next four years alternating between 15 and 17 percent.

    Also rising was the number of U.S. students of color as a percentage of full-time enrollment. The mark rose from 17.4 percent in 2009-10 to 23 percent in 2015-16, increasing every year. Over the same time frame, Hamilton’s number of admitted students held relatively steady, moving from 1,390 in 2009 to 1,357 in 2016 and never rising higher than 1,441 in the years between."

    from Do Colleges Need to Be Need Blind by Rick Seltzer in Inside Higher Ed (2016)
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