S21 Wesleyan vs. Haverford vs. Bates vs. Hamilton

Yes, and Weleyan has close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean generally and places like Mystic in particular.

I live near Wesleyan, so I can give you a few tips about a visit there.

It is an open campus with no fencing or gates of any kind. So anyone can walk across campus any time of day. Their official policy right now is that campus is closed to the public for the safety of staff and students, who are on campus and are out & about everywhere on these nice days. But, there are no security staff out enforcing this policy. You will not have access to buildings, but otherwise you can get a good feel for the campus. Students are friendly and will likely engage in conversation and answer any questions. OTOH, if you approach a faculty or staff member, s/he will likely ask you to leave.

There is a campus map on the Wesleyan website which you can either download to your phone or print out.

RJ Julia’s Bookstore on Main Street is a very nice book shop and doubles as the campus bookstore. There are no restrictions there and it has a nice cafe with good food.


Thanks for the info, Bill. Now we just have to find a nice day to go. Weather can be so important to first impressions.

Great stuff about Brownstone Park and rowing on the Connecticut River. Most people don’t realize it but the Connecticut River south of Middletown to Long Island Sound is designated as one of the “40 last great places” in the Western Hemisphere by the Nature Conservancy. Not only because of its scenic value but because it is protected from development by statute.

I’ve canoed that section of the River a lot. A nice weekend camping trip is to leave from Middletown by canoe or kayak on a Friday after school or work, camp at Hurd Park in Middle Haddam the first night, paddle on Saturday down to either Gillette’s Castle State Park or Selden Island to camp Saturday night, and then finish the trip on Sunday, taking out at any of the multiple access points between Essex and Saybrook Point or Old Lyme (on the East bank). There are 2 cautions. First, check the tides because the river is tidal up to Hartford and second, stay out of the channel where bigger boats go if you don’t want to be swamped. The river is beautiful all the way to the sound with lots of public land on both banks for rest stops and a lunch break.

There are lots of places to camp out in Connecticut. For long distance camping most like the Adirondacks, the best option is the Adirondack Trail which is about a 1.5 hour drive from Wes. The trail runs close to the CT border on the NY side and cuts through the NW corner of CT for about 50 miles before it continues into Massachusetts. There are multiple access points in all 3 states.

One other opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts is any of a number of rail trails in CT. One of the best begins right across the river from Middletown in Portland. It has a crushed cinder surface and much of it goes through state forest land 60+ miles all the way to the tri-state border in the NE corner. Motorized vehicles are banned but it is otherwise a multi-use trail for those on foot as well as those on bikes or horseback. No overnight camping at this point but great for day-hikes or bike-hikes. Also great for snowshoeing and X-country skiing in winter.


I had not known about the rail trails. When I was an undergraduate there was always talk about the Appalachian Trail not being that far away, too. One of those theories we never got around to testing out before graduating. :frowning:

The rail trail was developed over the past 20 years or so and was only recently extended into Portland. The Air Line itself has a fascinating history, of which I’m always aware when I walk it or ride my bike on it. It really is a wonderful asset to the area and provides a unique tour of eastern Connecticut.

Just catching up here…

In a bit of cosmic irony, this week S21 tested positive for Covid on the SAME day he was scheduled to get his first dose of the vaccine. Sigh.

@rjjxv26, Glad your son had an opportunity to tour Hamilton. If it gives Middlebury a run for its money in terms of beauty, that’s saying something. Because of sports (and now Covid) S21 won’t be able to visit. Looking at photos of the campus online, though, as well as the nice pics from @merc81 and @EyeVeee.

@circuitrider and @Bill_Marsh, I feel like my knowledge of Connecticut is I-95 and Pepe’s Pizza (best.pizza.ever). Love that the River and trails are not far from Wesleyan. S21 also enjoys hiking and kayaking, so this is great info, thank you. :grinning:


Pepe’s is great, but lots of good pizza in Middletown too. Very Italian town.


OP, are any schools off the table yet?

@FullCircle , so sorry to hear about your son. Hope it’s a false positive or else a mild case.

A friend pointed out this morning that what so many Americans kids have to do this year – make a college decision based only on virtual impressions – internationals have largely had to do all along. Cold comfort, I suppose.

Great, detailed information from one who is obviously an experienced outdoors-person.

Did you mean to say Appalachian Trail? There is an Adirondack Trail (I learned just this morning) that runs from Fonda to Malone and cuts right through the middle of the park. I’m well-acquainted with the Northville-Placid trail, though more through reputation than experience, but had never heard of the Adirondack Trail.

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Yes, brain fart. My apologies. I meant to say Appalachian Trail.


@Lindagaf, Yes, Haverford is off the table, mostly due to S21’s concerns about its size.
S21 attended a terrific Bates Q&A over the weekend. We were happy to hear that Bates is hoping to run AESOP in the fall. AESOP is unique to Bates, I believe, and one reason why S21 applied. We have an appointment with S’s HS guidance counselor early next week. Maybe he can give us some more clarity.

@rjjxv26, Thank you, S21’s symptoms are mild. The timing is terrible, of course, but what can you do.
So true re: internationals. They’re intrepid souls, making tough choices based on virtual impressions all of the time.

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Hopefully your son recovers quickly and will get his vaccine in a month or so.

Re AESOP, it’s a fantastic experience and I really hope it runs. Other colleges do have similar programs, such as Amherst. Another differentiating characteristic of Bates is its required Senior Thesis. Senior Thesis | Academics | Bates College
The thesis is a major project which involves a lot of research and plenty of input from a thesis advisor and professors. My D put her thesis on her resume and believes it was helpful in her getting all three jobs she has been offered, including the one she currently holds.

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@Lindagaf, Thank you,:crossed_fingers: I can get him another vax appointment soon.

I didn’t realize that Amherst has an orientation program similar to AESOP (S21 didn’t apply). Love the idea of a senior thesis. I imagine that’s a very impressive thing to put on a resume. Also intrigued by the long-term service project undertaken by some Psych majors in lieu of a thesis.


Hamilton has outdoor orientation trips as well, and requires a Senior thesis too. Also, Hamilton has open curriculum.


Middlebury has orientation trips too. I expect they’re pretty common across the LAC spectrum.

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Not on your list, but Colby has required outdoor orientation. COOT. But I think Dartmouth was the original king of this category. Let’s face it – if your school is in the middle of a beautiful place, what easier way to get kids to fall in love with the place and their peers than to send them out into it!


Haha! That’s so true! On my D’s trip, they drove 5 hours north into DownEast, which isn’t down at all. That’s how big Maine is. She fondly recalls now (not so much at the time) how the trip leaders read the hiking map wrong. Instead of a six mile hike, it was ten! She had signed up for a beginners hike. I think she slept well that night.


Hamilton’s residence halls show the architectural variation across its campus neighborhoods. All of these are available to first-year students:

For interior images, see available slideshows:

Beyond residence halls, buildings such as these would appear prominently on an actual tour:



This site shows an aerial view of Hamilton’s 19th Century quads: