Wesleyan University Pros and Cons?

I am considering applying early decision to Wesleyan, and was wondering if anyone could give me some pros and/or cons of the university?

I visited the campus last month, and really loved the courses, the community and housing aspects, and the creative and liberal school environment (although I am not sure about Middletown…) I am interested in double majoring in studio arts and computer science/sociology/English literature/film (undecided). If anyone has any personal experience at wes, what do you think about the studio art department? Additionally, would you say the school provides good connections to industry/grad school?

Thanks so much for the help!

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Pros -

Superlative academics across a broad swath of humanities, natural science and math as well as the visual and performing arts (overall 8:1 student faculty ratio.)

Attractive, suburban campus in a historic New England town; impressive blend of old and modern architecture.

Perfect “Goldilocks” size (~3000) neither too big nor too small.

Unusual blend of athletic, artistic and political cultures.

Cons -

Not enough socio-economic diversity; feels like everyone is from a suburb of New York, Boston or Los Angeles.

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Pros- Bill Belichick
Cons- Bill Belichick

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Pros

I’ll second @circuitrider ‘s fine summary. I often say, with no apologies for my bias, that one of Wes’ strengths is that it is very good at so many things. You’ll see posters in this forum cite Wesleyan as an “artsy” school, which IMO is a lazy assessment. It gets a lot of pub for that because of its vaunted film program and the big names it’s produced, and then there is the whole Lin Manual Miranda / Tommy Kail theater thing, which, sure, is pretty cool.

But this LAC in central CT. has also won two Apker prizes in physics in the research university division, competing against Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Cal Tech., etc., which is like Middlebury beating Alabama in football. It has a fantastic and historical Astro department, and does amazing things across the rest of the natural sciences. It has done all these things even with aging science facilities that are soon to be replaced. Building(s) For the Future – Wesleyan University Magazine

And then there are the social sciences, where Wes also excels.

Cons

This may surprise a great many people, but I’m going to throw it out there. And keep in mind, I love Wesleyan. But there is still a hint of what the ex-communicated (here on CC) John Wesley referred to as a New England “bro” culture that people more often associate with Middlebury or Williams or Bucknell. It’s not pervasive, but there are pockets of an “old Wesleyan” to be found. For example, the men’s team in my D’s sport has its own endowment and the “senior” coach. My D’s team has the new, junior coach, and no endowment (we’re working on it). During her 4 years there, it was the women who completely broke Williams’ NESCAC stranglehold on the sport, winning the Little Three 3x and also winning several other major events, which I’ll decline to identify here. They were 10X as successful as the men, but if you were a stranger happening upon the scene not knowing anything, you might think it was the men who had the accolades. It was a subtle attitude, but it was there. It could also at times be reflected in the attention the men received for their achievements on a school-wide basis relative to that received by the women for what seemed like smaller accomplishments by the men. And, it could also be reflected in the attitude of some of the male athletes. This is why I chuckle when people reflexively assume that Wes is full of protesters and future artists, government regulators and professors, when in reality it has its fair share of connected kids who become JPM, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs analysts. If those people are off-putting to you, I can’t tell you that you won’t run into them at Wesleyan. They are there, and they still carry with them some degree of privilege.

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Historical side note: Conn College exists because Wesleyan closed its doors to women in 1909, after having admitting women in limited numbers since 1872. (Not saying that proves anything about gender equity at Wes today, but it’s interesting.) Wesleyan's First Women, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies - Wesleyan University

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Thank you for such a thorough and interesting response! I actually haven’t heard much regarding the “Old Wesleyan” culture at the school - it’s not a dealbreaker, but definitely something to consider.

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Also, while these things are inherently subjective, most Wes students we know wind up citing Middletown as a plus. Main Street is really terrific and great for foodies and those with food allergies. It’s also close to West Hartford.

I can’t comment on the studio art area, but, as I wrote in another thread, Wesleyan has interdisciplinary learning in its DNA, so your stated plans would be realized nicely there if that’s what you wind up doing.

If you have any questions about Wes please feel free to PM me. Happy to discuss in more detail.

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Pros- Bill Belichick
Cons- Eric Mangini

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And yet, I have to check myself because Wesleyan manages to still wind up at the #5 position in the Washington Monthly social mobility rankings and the #2 position overall:

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We rank liberal arts colleges—four-year institutions that award almost exclusively bachelor’s degrees and that focus on arts and sciences rather than professional programs—based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and promoting public service.

Laudable goals indeed, though often not values of high priority at the old boys club, or rather places who measure their sense of accomplishment based on how many kids they can send to Wall Street to help them invent new ways to screw up the country.

But I digress. :slight_smile: [Tongue-in-cheek post and sarcasm intended]

Go Wes!

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Hurtful…accurate but hurtful😀

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That’s odd. I included in my response to @circuitrider a parenthetical (hard brackets) to clarify my post was meant tongue-in-cheek, and it’s disappeared.

Hey, I’m as guilty as anyone. Corp. Fin. is pretty much my entire practice. It is also possible that I have negatively influenced one of my children and denied society a potential contributor to science and added to the heap of “consultants” instead. Like we need another math kid monetizing that skill in the consulting world.

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Nah, that’s called, “Saying the quiet part out loud.” :grin:

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#2 in the Washington Monthly rankings, second year in a row:
2022 Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking | Washington Monthly

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I have visited twice with kids and been very impressed both times. No academic hesitations at all and great career counseling. Middletown is not a city but the main drag has enough eateries and bars for any kid who isn’t looking for that urban environment. Campus is not the most beautiful one out there but it’s still nice enough. A few brutalist ugly buildings don’t ruin it. Students seem engaged and interesting and not overly stressed out. Despite the reputation for being super liberal I did not find the students on average to look weird. Yes there are some different looking people, but plenty of mainstream looking people too.

There might be a divide between athletes and non athletes, but I think this is common at LACs.

I really like the housing system, with gradually more independence. I love that seniors live in houses but these are actually on campus and owned by Wes.

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This made me laugh. What do the super liberals look like? [ :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: teasing you]

For what it’s worth, my liberal kid looks fairly “mainstream” (she’s not at Wes). One of her close friends is at Wes and could also be described as looking mainstream/boho, but certainly not “weird”. I would describe her as having a super liberal outlook.

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We are going to the open house in Nov for my S to compare Wes to Williams. I am very interested in the notes of ultra liberal but also bro culture. Wonder how those interact for a middle of the road white male who stays out of politics?

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I know. I was totally stereotyping to save time, but I think most readers know what I mean.

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I don’t. :man_shrugging: