How Hard Are The Academics At Wellesley College?

I’m currently a high school junior looking into good liberal arts programs around Boston (because I want to stay VERY close to home) and Wellesley is an attractive option. I really like the location but I’m worried because I’ve heard the classes are impossible to pass. I am not an “Albert Einstein”, so I’m worried if I go I will be setting myself up for failure in my school and therefore career. Is Wellesley College really as vigorous as people claim? Will I have to sacrifice every waking hour to the pursuit of a good grade? It seems like the only good liberal arts opportunity nearby. I was interested in BU and BC but I found out those aren’t liberal arts and I am not ready to choose a career path so I feel like I need a liberal arts education.

You can major in English or History or French literature or political science or sociology or psychology at BU or BC so I’m not sure what you are talking about… you can get a good liberal arts education at almost any college in the Boston area except for Bentley, Babson, MIT or Wentworth…which are more specialized… and maybe a handful of others.

The classes at Wellesley are rigorous but they won’t accept you if they don’t think you can do the work.

How close to home do you need to be and where do you live??? There are at least 50 great options in the metropolitan area depending on your stats, how much you can afford, etc.

20% acceptance rate, to add specifics to @blossom’s opinion.
And here are some selected snippets of opinions from current students, expressed at Unigo, and pasted as-is:

" Wellesley students tend to be too focused on academics, and the competition is cutthroat. You know the Cutthroat ■■■■■ on House? That probably can describe many Wellesley students. "

"Even on friday night when you just want to play your music and hang out with your friends, campus police will inevitably come knocking on your door telling you that there was a noise complaint from a student trying to study for an exam on monday. It can get ridiculous sometimes. But it just means that the students really care about their work. It also means that the students are super competitive though. But we’re really competitive about stupid things, like who slept the least, who has the most exams and papers due in one week, and who has had the least amount of time for eating (not to mention who got an A on last weeks midterm). "

“Students study A LOT. Literally, in any kind of common space you go, you will find people studying. Students are really competitive, although it’s definitely possible to find people who are more relaxed.”

“Many girls take classes at MIT, Babson, and even at Harvard…99% come back saying that they were easy compared to Wellesley. The intense academic atmosphere has caused the campus to be a stressful environment. Students are less likely to help one another.”

“We are used to being the best and find anything less hard to accept. This mindset would lead many to assume that Wellesley is an extremely competitive school, which is true. However, competition does not exist between individuals. The only place competition lives is within each student where a fierce battle rages between the student you are and the student you want to be.”

Plus, 20% acceptance rate

I actually live in the town of Wellesley! And I get that liberal arts styles still exist at other schools, but does the job market frown upon choosing one of those majors at a university? I could be wrong but I’m under the impression that liberal arts colleges are seen as “better” than a liberal arts degree at a uni. Also, liberal arts aren’t defined by “artsy” classes? I don’t understand why you listed humanity majors when liberal arts includes STEM as well?

OP- don’t let the nomenclature trip you up.

You can study political science at a liberal arts college, you can study econ, you can study math, you can study art history, you can study linguistics. Since I don’t know what you’re interested in, it’s hard to tell you what you should focus on- but again, there are at least 50 colleges in your neck of the woods where you can get a fine liberal arts education. Why would an econ major be better (or worse) at a “liberal arts college” than it would be at a university?

Don’t focus on the nomenclature! Post your stats- post what you are kinda sorta maybe interesting in studying, post your financial constraints, post how far you are willing to go from home, and we can help you. There is no “style”- there is engineering and nursing and elementary education- so not what you are looking for, I gather- but then there is everything else and there’s a big world out there to study.

Which job markets are you referring to??? You can’t get a job as a social worker without a Master’s in Social Work so yes, the job market “frowns” on folks without the relevant degree or training. But there are thousands of “job markets” depending on what you decide to do. The market for high school math teachers is very different than the job market for art historians which is very different than the job market for urban planners. And you are in high school- there will be jobs for you that don’t even exist today. One of my kids works in a field which didn’t even exist during college; joined as an early employee when it was a startup and it’s now a big public company. Went from zero to 70 MPH in a couple of years.

If you’re interested in chemistry you get lucky- you can study that at a liberal arts college, you can study it an engineering college, you can study it at U Mass which has both.

Everyone around me has said that a degree from a liberal arts college can lead to many different job opportunities, while a degree from a university tends to have a less general course requirements and therefore leads to less job flexibility. For example, I told my dad I could see myself in a communications type of job in the future. Communications isn’t even offered at liberal arts colleges as a course because it’s too specific.My dad said I could major in ANYTHING at a liberal arts college and pursue a career in that field, but if I major in communications at, say, BU, then I’m ONLY going to be able to pursue that type of career. That’s what scares me about UNI. I want freedom to explore many many many different jobs because I don’t know what I want and I’m not close to figuring it out. Business? Marketing? Advertising? Marketing? Media? Lawyer? Teacher? HR? PR? Producer? Therapist? These are just a few of the ideas that bounce around my head and jumble my thoughts. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a doctor/nurse. Science isn’t really my thing either (I am interested in psych though). I don’t have my official “Stats” on me but I attend one of the best high schools in the world (at least according to those news lists) and I do pretty well (I’m not THE STAR but I connect with my teachers/courses). Also my family has been saving my whole life to pay for college so I am lucky to say that cost won’t be a limiting factor. Thank you so much for helping me; I am having terrible panic attacks.

Get a Fiske guide.
Forget the “Boston” restriction for now.*
Try to figure out what you like and what you dislike.
Find 10 colleges in there that you’ve never heard of and like; identify what they have in common, what your deal-breakers would be.
What about the 5-college consortium?

  • Are your parents asking you to commute? Do you have a serious illness? Trying to figure out how key "Boston" itself is.

Wellesley is a serious school.

Agrre that you should obtain a copy of the Fiske Guide To Colleges 2020.

Quote from Fiske Guide:

“Wellesley employs a shadow-grading policy, in which students’ first-semester grades do not appear on their transcripts.”

“When it comes to academics, Wellesley women are serious.”

Overlap schools: Barnard, Brown, Smith, Swarthmore, Yale, UC-Berkeley, Harvard, & Columbia.

Everyone around you is totally clueless. Talk with your high school guidance counselor. Also look at the websites of the universities.

Degrees from liberal arts schools absolutely can lead to many different job opportunities, but so can specialized degrees. The real issue is you. What are you interested in? If you’re not sure what you want to study when it comes time to apply, then it does make sense to apply to schools with broad distribution requirements so that you can explore many subjects before choosing a major. But if you are certain you want to study, say, mathematics, or history, then look for schools with strong programs in your field of interest.

And yes, Wellesley is very intense. My daughter loved her time there, but it nearly killed her. She still says she wouldn’t trade it for anything, though.