How are you considering the new SAT in the application process? What were the SAT ranges for the students entering this fall?
We have been pretty proactive about the fact that we see this year as a transition year. That said, our requirement, for years, has been to have some kind of writing assessment [as part of the application] – so the writing piece of this is not new to us.
We felt we wanted to set our requirements in such a way that the testing itself would not trip anyone up. If a student gives us the new SAT results, then we ask for two SAT subject tests, of the student’s choice. I am very confident that it will not make a difference to Wesleyan if a student took the ‘wrong’ test.
Our median for the last two years for the combined SAT scores has been exactly the same, which is 1400. But part of our commitment to access is that we take people with a very broad range of SATs. In that context, we look at family educational background, which is a high determinant in terms of SATs – and we’re aware that students with English as a second language, and our international students, may have some big differences between their verbal scores and their math scores. So even though our median is pretty high, we take a pretty broad range.
What general advice would you give to students considering applying to Wesleyan?
One of my current little soap boxes is that, every chance I get when I am talking to kids about how they are presenting themselves in the application, I caution them about their level of comfort in electronic media.
I get very worried about how casual students are in emails. More than 40% of our applications are sent electronically, and applicants, because they are so comfortable sitting down in front of a keyboard, maybe spend a little less time proofing essays that they do on line. There is sometimes this much more casual, ‘dashed-off’ kind of presentation. Students need to schedule enough time to make sure they can draft that essay. Often, too, those short answer questions do not have the polish that the long essay has. I caution students to remember the ‘first impression’ rule, and how important it is to still put their best foot forward.
Is financial aid available for students who need it? How should students apply for aid?
I am one of the few deans left who has a completely need-blind admissions process. We have the luxury of choosing the best applicants by our definition, regardless of their ability to pay. That is true for freshman applicants, for transfer applicants, and all the way through the wait list.
The important thing for students is not to be cowed by the $44,000 total cost price tag, and to recognize that we have a need-based financial aid system. We spend more than $30,000,000 of Wesleyan money a year on grants and scholarships. It’s all to help make up the difference between what students can afford and the total cost of education.
Is there anything else you want to be sure prospective applicants know about Wesleyan University?
Wesleyan is tops in science. One of the things I worry about is that students won’t know that, if they think liberal arts means just arts and humanities.
The National Science Foundation has done studies about where they spend money, and, in the last study they did, the Wesleyan faculty garnered more research grants than any other faculty in the liberal arts environment – by a factor of two.
What that translates into is undergraduate research opportunities, quality of laboratory equipment, and just top notch science. It’s in an environment where students have great access to the resources and to faculty. Sixty percent of our graduating science majors will have been co-authors of papers and have presented research with faculty at off-campus conferences. It is very typical for our science students to get graduate research degrees, while there are some who will be pre-med and will go on to medical school. It’s just a wonderful place to do science.