Wellesley, A Women’s College for the 21st Century
By Melanie Juarez
There are approximately 5,300 undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. Only 34 of these are women’s colleges, which begs the question - why would a student choose to attend a women’s college in a coed world? Wellesley College has answers to that question - 100 of them to be exact, and then some.
While some people have never heard of Wellesley, they have certainly heard of its graduates, which include the likes of Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Diane Sawyer. They were all undergraduate students at Wellesley College, a private women’s college in Wellesley, Massachusetts, which is just a short drive from Boston. It is recognized as one of the premier women’s colleges in the United States. It also has the highest endowment of any women’s college in the world, at about $1.97 billion. It is also recognized as one of the best liberal arts schools in the country, with a plethora of programs to support students through their college years and cultivate connections that last a lifetime through an extensive network of professional women.
The coursework at Wellesley is well-known for its rigor. Students can pick from over 50 majors and can enroll in courses with the sister schools, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University. Wellesley also offers some 160 study abroad programs; 45% of juniors choose to study abroad, paying Wellesley’s tuition and being eligible for the same financial aid.
Wellesley’s pride is the sisterhood of its community. Students are connected to 2,300 other young women on campus, their professors, in a 1:7 ratio, and a global network of 35,000 alumnae. Sisterhood and community are fostered through Wellesley’s many traditions and activities, like the Ultimate Frisbee team, “Traying” (sledding down the campus’ hills on cafeteria trays), and First Year Seminars (where small groups meet to discuss off-the-wall topics similar to ones found at a Northside colloquium). “[At Wellesley] you’re surrounded by supporting, encouraging, empowering women who want you to do your best, go out to challenge the world, and make a difference.” said Mr. Jake Sisco, Assistant Director of Admission at Wellesley.
Wellesley admits students who have found their passions and are ready to act on them. “Wellesley women have already found their voice. It’s not a place for a shy, quiet girl to break out of her shell.” said Mr. Sisco. Wellesley looks for women with grit, resilience, and leadership that goes beyond being a club president or team captain - it seeks women willing to “stand alone in the face of adversity.” And it is not just admissions representatives scavenging through applications for these traits; Wellesley’s Board of Admission includes professors, administrators, and a rotating group of current students.
Students can apply to Wellesley through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or Questbridge. Wellesley offers two rounds of Early Decision: one in November and the other in January. The school also offers students the option to apply Regular Decision with an Early Evaluation Option in December, and Regular Decision in January. Wellesley is also committed to making the cost of attendance, currently set at $66,984, affordable for all students, and begins that by making its application free. Wellesley has gained a reputation for graduating students with some of the lowest student debt in the country. Prospective students can easily approximate their costs with Wellesley’s MyinTuition function. Wellesley aims to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need and awards over $6 million in financial aid every year.
When asked how a women’s college like Wellesley fits into a largely coed educational system, Mr. Sisco said “It [a women’s college] is not meant to hide you from the real world, it’s meant to give you the tools and the confidence to thrive in that world.” Mr. Sisco says that a school like Wellesley creates a space for women to speak loudly. “It’s the kind of place where you wouldn’t have a man cut you off or interrupt when you start speaking. You’re not going to hear women apologize before they speak - those things do not happen.”
-Private/Public College: Private
-Number of Undergraduate Students: 2,502
-Male to Female Ratio: Women only
-Student to Teacher Ratio: 7:1
-Overall Cost: $66,984
-Percentage of Students on Financial Aid: 57%
-Size of Endowment: $1.97 billion
-Location of School: Wellesley, MA (Suburban)
-Acceptance Rate: 29.9%
-Graduation Rate: 91.6% (within six years)