Wellesley’s unofficial motto is to “educate women who will make a difference in the world.” And if there’s one thing a Wellesley education will give you, it’s a sense of empowerment that you have the skills, confidence, and know-how to succeed at anything you choose. Consistently ranked among the top five liberal arts colleges in the nation, Wellesley offers its students a serious intellectual environment combined with a fun, all-women atmosphere. It’s not uncommon to find friends gossiping until early morning, baking cookies together while cramming for an exam, or crowded around the dorm television on Thursday nights for a study break.
Wellesley is a college where the emphasis is on you. You’ll never be a number at Wellesley; all of your professors will know you by your name and the quality of your work. Student opinions not only count but are actively solicited, from determining which professors receive tenure, to selecting your commencement speaker, to campus and dorm governance issues.
My first year at Wellesley, several students were chosen to help select the next president of the college. And our input didn’t stop there! The new president asked us to call her by her first name, Diana, and always said hello when we saw her walking across campus or jogging around the lake. She also came to many of the college’s activities, from attending school plays, soccer games, and student body meetings, to greeting trick-or-treaters at her home on Halloween. She gave us the feeling she really cared, and she did.
Part of Wellesley’s charm also comes from its surroundings. Nestled in the suburb of Wellesley, Massachusetts, twelve miles outside of Boston, the college is located on a 500-acre campus that boasts one of the most spectacular settings in New England. Students often spend their weekends canoeing on Lake Waban, reading on Green Beach, or “traying” down Severance Green in the snow.
But during the week, students focus almost exclusively on their work. Wellesley is a teaching college rather than a research university, so students receive plenty of individual attention. Professors hold extensive office hours and some will even bake brownies for class or have students over to their homes. Every professor assigns and grades papers and exams; no graduate students compete for your attention or evaluate your work.
English, psychology, and economics are among the most popular majors, although students dabble in everything from economics of Third World countries to sports medicine to Greek art. Many students choose to double-major, while others will select a minor, often a foreign language. Students can take only fourteen of their thirty-two credits in their major, so they are forced to broaden their education beyond a few departments. Outside of the classroom, students spend much of their time participating in sports, college government, music groups, dee-jaying at the college radio station, and exploring Boston.
Although Wellesley women are diverse in their interests, backgrounds, and personalities, all of them share the experience of having attended the top women’s college in the country. Wellesley offers its students the opportunity to expand their minds, challenge their limits, and learn to be meaningful leaders in a changing world.
Wellesley women share more than an education, though. From Flower Sunday in September, when sophomores give their “little sisters,” or first-year students, a daisy as a sign of welcome and friendship, to commencement, when seniors pop champagne corks together, Wellesley develops in its students a sense of sisterhood, a camaraderie that can only be shared at a women’s college. While students may complain about a lack of social life during their four years there, they will also revel in the chance to study without distraction and to be completely in the company of a group of outstanding women. As a favorite campus saying goes, “Not a girls’ school without men, but a women’s college without boys.”
The campus is also a sanctuary, a safe and secure atmosphere, where you will find yourself enveloped by the beautiful Massachusetts environment.
Professors are there to offer a hand as well; many of them have been known to spend an hour or more with each student during office hours. As a student, you’ll not only learn facts and figures, but how to analyze and apply that information to other problems. Your professors will challenge you to become active thinkers and participants in and out of the classroom, by sharing your enthusiasm and success, offering advice, and also becoming lifelong friends. Wellesley is a college where you will be known by your first name, whether you’re the college president, a professor, or a student. You can also choose whether to be the student body president or just a member of the student body. You become empowered because you make the decisions and you shape your future.
If you have a preconceived notion of a women’s college, chances are it’s not true at Wellesley—the college is not a bastion of lesbianism, nor a stronghold of left-wing, radical feminism. It’s also not a place for meek-mannered women. What Wellesley is, is a supportive environment that gives its students a sense of self-esteem, accomplishment, and the ability to apply that knowledge and confidence elsewhere. What Wellesley does is to successfully educate women who do, time and time again, make a difference in the world.