Is Wellesley College "fun?"

My daughter just got in to Wellesley and I really would like to see her go, but she’s been kind of turned off by the “vibe.” Is it a fun place? We’ve visiting a few times (even before the pandemic) and it always seems very sleepy. She has a couple of other very good options, but again, I think Wellesley would be the best.

I have only taken a couple of courses at Wellesley college (on exchange from MIT), and this was a long time ago. However, given your lack of response I thought I could at least give you one opinion.

Generally speaking there are many terms that could be used to describe an academically challenging university. “Fun” is not one of them.

My recollection is that Wellesley College is mostly what you would expect from any highly ranked university. There are a lot of students who are very serious about their education. There are a lot of students who study hard.

Before I took an exchange class at Wellesley College I was warned that half the students there would never date an MIT guy because it was beneath their dignity. This was consistent with my experience there, and seems to suggest something about what the culture was. Of course things are quite likely to have changed in the many decades that have passed since then.

One issue: For a student to do well at a highly ranked and academically challenging university is a lot of work. They have to want to do it. I would not “force” nor “very strongly encourage” someone to attend any highly ranked university unless they want to do it. I think that parents can require their children to comply with a budget. I do not think that we should require them to attend an academically challenging university unless they are sure that they are ready.

Current Wellesley student here, I understand how you could see Wellesley as sleepy, but I’d like to explain why that isn’t a negative. I wouldn’t say Welles is “fun” by general college standards (ie. partying and general focus on social life over schoolwork). We are certainly very studious (at times a little too serious about it), but I think the real reason why you might have gotten a sleepy vibe is because we are in the middle of the woods. Being on an urban campus like MIT or BU is very different because there’s constant action all around you. You’re walking to class among tall city buildings or walking by a busy intersection to get to your dorm. At Welles it’s much quieter, much more serene since we are removed from all the hustle and bustle of Boston. For me personally, it’s a fantastic fit because I am in awe at our campus’ nature everyday. I also get the best of both worlds since I can take a bus to Boston (our shuttles specifically transport us to MIT) and spend a day running errands or going shopping, and then retire to the peaceful nature haven we call home. At night, Wellesley certainly isn’t a party school. Most people complain about our social life although many students are able to fulfill their social needs off-campus (at big party schools like MIT surprisingly), but I personally really love having a quiet peaceful campus where I can spend a night in with friends watching movies or taking walks around the lake.

I also want to echo @DadTwoGirls’s comment about giving your daughter the freedom to choose which school will best fit her rather than choosing the highest ranked school. You want her to make the most out of her college experience rather than feel unhappy at a school with a high ranking.

Lastly, I do want to respond to @DadTwoGirls’s comment about Welles students not dating an MIT guy because it’s beneath us. You are correct in a sense, but not because we are pretentious or snobby. As a student at a women’s college, there’s a sense of empowerment in being able to rely on other women in all aspects of life. We all were raised outside the Wellesley bubble where society tells us we must always rely on our male counterparts, but at Welles we are free to rely on ourselves and other women. That feeling of empowerment compounded with guys who come on campus thinking we are low-hanging fruit desperate for a hook-up is the reason why Wellesley students don’t feel the need to lunge at every MIT guy who comes on campus. Instead, we’re focused on improving ourselves through our studies and the connections we make on-campus.