Middletown, CT: I’ve grown up 20 minutes from WesleyanUniversity - one of the most selective colleges in the country, as well as one of the most liberal- but I never really thought about going there. Now that I’m a senior, I need to decide whereI’m going to spend the next four years. I’m in a different situation than some of myfriends, however, because I’m planning to play basketball in college. I’ve decided toplay Division III, which means I will not get an athletic scholarship, but I will get a goodeducation. My coach mentioned Wesleyan because he is friends with a coach there who has expressedinterest in me. I figured it couldn’t hurt to look at the school.
I hadn’tplanned to apply to any schools on the early decision program until I went for an overnight visitat Wesleyan and stayed with a freshman on the basketball team. I’d never seen a collegecampus from the point of view of a student, but after 28 hours, I decided that Wesleyan is where Iwant to be for the next four years.
From what I had heard about the place growing up, I waspicturing a hippie commune where everyone smoked pot and the girls didn’t shave. I waspleasantly surprised to learn that there are just as many jocks and intellectuals as radicals oncampus, and everyone is really friendly. The floors and bathrooms are coed (which isn’t foreveryone), but the guys on the floor were as genuinely welcoming as the girls during myvisit.
I’ll be honest and tell you that contrary to popular belief, Wesleyan issomewhat of a party school, but there are many other things to do so if that’s not yourscene. About 200 student-run organizations offer activities ranging from sky-diving to Frenchcooking, not to mention the myriad ways to be politically active. (This is a liberal arts school,after all.)
But fear not, partiers, Wesleyan definitely knows how to throw a good shindig.The main fraternity (one of three) is not as wild as the infamous Delta House in “AnimalHouse,” but the Friday night of my visit, there really was a toga party going on! Othersmall-scale get-togethers are common too: floors and houses have viewings of movies and some floorsdo everything together from party-hopping to afternoons of croquet.
Wesleyan has an awesomeperforming arts program, including dozens of acting troupes, improvisational comedy and a cappellagroups. Four nights a week, the renowned Film Studies program offers a different movie at theCenter for Film Studies, the newest college theater on the East Coast, complete withstate-of-the-art editing facilities. The Wesleyan film studies program is so good that JossWhedon, creator, producer and director of television’s “Buffy the VampireSlayer,” and David Kendall, who wrote “There’s Something About Mary,” areamong its graduates. In fact, so many graduates live and work in Hollywood that they are known asthe Wesleyan Mafia.
The students, despite having a reputation for being anti-establishment,really go out and support their Cardinals with enthusiasm. Because Wesleyan is Division III, thegames aren’t on TV or talked about on “Sports Center,” but they are a big part ofcampus life. While there I attended a football game and the campus was abuzz with score updatesfrom the three other games going on at the same time. The women’s basketball team was one winaway from going to the Division III Elite Eight last season, and I’m hoping to be there intwo years to help the team make it to the championship!
But enough about the extracurricularactivities. Wesleyan is not a school where you can skip class because you will flunk out if you do.With only a 28% acceptance rate, the school pretty much guarantees that only deserving students areadmitted. Wesleyan is “highly selective, based on individual achievement and promise.”An admissions official told me, however, that the hardest part about Wesleyan is getting in becauseonce admitted, the stress has pretty much been lifted. If you get in, you can do thework.
The university has a 9:1 student-faculty ratio, and only professors teachundergraduate classes. Teachers’ assistants oversee labs but do not lecture. The faculty atWesleyan is very diverse: in the psychology class I attended, the professor was Jamaican. In fact,14% of the faculty are persons of color,* 39% are women and 61% men, which means that students willlearn from a wide range of people.
Wesleyan University is a gem in the middle of amedium-sized city where you can get a top-notch education while meeting with people from all 50states and 45 countries with many political and social backgrounds. Everyone stays on campus on theweekends, so there is plenty to do. Wesleyan isn’t for everyone, but those who go there saythey wouldn’t trade their experiences for the world. Their website is wesleyan.edu.
*From the Wesleyan University Profile 2005-06.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.