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Mount Holyoke vs. Wellesley

Sabrina2372Sabrina2372 27 replies23 threads Junior Member
edited May 2014 in Women's Colleges
Can anyone tell me what the pros and cons of each school are, or compare on contrast them? I'm applying to Barnard for sure, and want to apply to one more women's college, but I don't know which one! But it's definitely between these two. I know that Wellesley is a lot more selective than Mt. Holyoke, what exactly do you think that says about the school?
I don't know if it matters, like if it says anything about my taste in schools, but my top picks are Harvard, Yale, and UC Berkeley, Barnard, and maybe Stanford. Mount Holyoke or Wellesley will end up being my backup.
Are there any major differences? Is one better than the other in certain areas (esp. Literatur since that's my major!)
Also like diversity, how "fun" for lack of a better word each school is, and the vibe of the surrounding area at each school.
Thanks for any and all help with this uber important decision!
edited May 2014
4 replies
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Replies to: Mount Holyoke vs. Wellesley

  • staceyneilstaceyneil 1193 replies41 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    @Sabrina2372 These were my daughter's top two choices so I may be able to give you some input.

    First of all, is there a reason you need to choose one or the other to apply to? Both of them are free to apply to if you use the online application. Note that Wellesley requires two SATII tests in addition to the SAT/ACT.

    Second, you should definitely visit both schools.They have very different vibes. Both campuses are absolutely BEAUTIFUL. But they have different feelings and settings... MHC is part of the 5-college consortium with Amherst, Smith, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst, in a very small town with a free bus running to the other colleges and the hip town of Northampton. The surrounding area is truly beautiful with lots of opportunities for hiking, etc. but a longer haul to a decent big city. Wellesley has a gorgeous pastoral campus -so you get some nature right there- but is surrounded by wealthy suburbs. Boston is ~45 minute bus ride. Surrounding area vibe? Both are kind of islands... but even though MHC is technically more isolated, I feel like the surrounding area has more to do/see more easily than Wellesley. At Wellesley, you can go walk around the affluent little village/town, or you can make the commitment to go all the way to Boston... (but it IS Boston, with all there is to do there!) Otherwise I think most people stay on campus. At MHC there is a free bus connecting all the colleges and Northampton. You have all the cultural events, social events, etc of 5 colleges plus a vibrant, artsy town. My sense is people go off-campus more at MHC; at Wellesley most people stay on campus during the week and then go into Boston on the weekends.

    (Both schools allow cross registration with other colleges. I think it's more common/easier at MHC with the 5-college consortium, though.)

    Diversity: I think Wellesley is fairly diverse but MHC is especially well-known for its diversity. (My D is on the accepted students facebook page and talking with girls from all over the world. She's been skyping with a young woman from Uzbekistan and may be roommates with her.) This is something you can look up from the Common Data Sets, I think: the number of different ethnicities and international students at each school.

    Fun? I think that Wellesley is in general a bit more serious. Which is not to say -at all- that MHC students are not intensely focused on academics. But it feels less cutthroat, less competitive, more supportive in general than Wellesley. I think it really depends on which vibe suits you better! Hence my advice to visit. I really think that is crucial. Go while school is in session. Sit in on a couple of classes. Stay overnight in a dorm if at all possible. You may find that the more serious, slightly more pre-professional vibe at Wellesley is more appealing to you - or you may prefer MHC's slightly more down-to-earth, welcoming, supportive community.

    My daughter's most important criteria when looking at schools was that it be passionate, intellectual environment. Both schools absolutely deliver on that front.

    And, yes, Wellesley is more selective than MHC. It also has a larger endowment. That said, I know of several young women who have chosen MHC over Wellesley because the "vibe" there suited them better. I also know of lots who chose Wellesley! I really think you should visit, and see where you feel the most at home, and where you feel like you have found "your people".

    Good luck!

    edited May 2014
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  • txhandantxhandan 274 replies19 threads Junior Member
    ^^ One minor thing is that Wellesley doesn't require SAT subject tests if you submit ACT scores with writing.
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  • upforfunupforfun 12 replies1 threads New Member
    @Sabrina2372 staceyneil covered most of the differences between the colleges. My D applied to both along with several other top LAC's so she became very familiar with the differences in feel between the colleges. One thing that has become increasingly evident over the search and decision process is that the overall ability level of professors at all of the top schools are fairly equivalent for undergraduates because of the sheer numbers available to these schools. Thus, a key component becomes the individual institution's commitment to undergraduate education and teaching quality. LAC's generally have this strong commitment to undergraduates (vs. the research universities).

    A significant difference between MHC and Wellesley is that the FA may be different because MHC has merit scholarships available. My D received a merit scholarship from MHC which decreased her net cost to very affordable. Wellesley provided the LEAST financial aid of all of the colleges she applied to. Another friend who applied to both received a significantly smaller merit award from MHC. After comparing the total COA for both, that friend ended up at Wellesley due to a very slightly better total package from Wellesley.

    MHC seems to have a more pervasive social justice feel to it than Wellesley.

    As a follow-up to one of staceyneil's comments, one of D's good friends who currently attends Wellesley noted that the students seem to compete in how much work they are doing for the classes. I can see this both ways -- perhaps a more focused intellectual environment but also a decreased collaborative feel that seems to be a real plus for the LACs and particularly women's colleges.

    MHC is completely test optional although I don't know how that affects awarding of merit scholarships.

    Bottom line, I agree with staceyneil. Why not apply to both? It is one extra essay and no application fee. Good luck with the decision process.
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  • ConsolationConsolation 22898 replies184 threads Senior Member
    In my experience it is a lot easier to get into Boston/Cambridge via the free hourly bus than stacyneil suggests, but one is unlikely to go unless one has a block of time free on a given day, and that depends on class schedule. :) Somehow, I managed to spend lots of time in the city, and let's face it: Northampton is a cool little town but it doesn't have the cultural offerings of Boston/Cambridge.

    Both schools are great. The typical W student is indeed probably more driven that the typical MHC student.

    Do you have any true safeties? Even if you are well within the range of the schools you cite, elite admissions can be very, very quirky, and I would advise having one or two that are lower in the pecking order.
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