What are some of the distinctive facilities available to Wesleyan students?
There are a couple of things that are noteworthy.
We are now in year eight of a 10-year campus master plan. We are currently building a new university center. Already, about one year ago, we opened our new film study center. It is state-of-the-art. Someone quipped that our building now is worthy of our program, which has a national reputation. The cinema in the film study center is of the highest quality. Every seat in the house has perfect sight line. Because we study film as an academic subject, it was also built in such a way that there is a seminar space at the bottom of the screening room between the seats and the screen itself. That means there is room for a seminar, so you watch the film and then you can come down and discuss it. That probably is one of the most distinctive facilities we offer students.
Also in the context of this master plan, we have built three new dorms. In addition, one of the first projects in the ten-year plan was to renovate 90 classrooms on our campus and to bring them all up-to-date in terms of technology. That part of the project is all finished.
I think one of the things that Wesleyan has learned to do particularly well is to use technology in support of liberal arts education. Every student is given an electronic portfolio. All of the dorms are hardwired. Probably 70 to 75% of the campus is wireless. This fall, we just started a multi-year project to transform the library by taking out the old paper card catalog and replacing it with an information commons with computer work stations and joint study rooms. We have to think of archiving and researching information differently than we did 20 years ago.
Do all students live on campus? What types of residence halls are available?
We recently took the oldest dormitory on campus and completely gutted and renovated it – so I think of it as new. We also built two other, brand-new dormitories. Students just moved into them within the last three weeks.
First-year students live in a traditional residence hall, with double rooms and bathrooms at the end of the hallway. As a student progresses through the undergraduate years, more options become available. By the time you are a senior, you are in independent housing.
We also have senior housing that is more like apartments or townhouses. Senior housing here is a real privilege, and something the students really look forward to.
We require students to live on campus for all four years.
When is the best time to visit Wesleyan? What should students do to make the most of a campus visit?
I am not so sure that there is an absolute best time to visit Wesleyan – but I am sure that there is a best time not to visit, like ‘arrival day’ for freshmen, or reunions, homecomings, etc.
We host students for visits all year round. Wesleyan is not in session during the summer, but we try to do a lot of things through the admissions office so that students who come for visits during the summer will get as close to a real experience as possible. The campus itself is open and lively. In fact, I think that summer is a really good time for people to visit because they can get a tour of the facilities, talk with an admissions dean, and have an interview. We still do one-on-one interviews and, during the summer, we really do have more time and resources to do interviewing.
My basic rule of thumb for any family is, ‘no more than two schools a day.’ Plan to spend one-half a day on each campus. In addition to the tours and interviews, plan on having some walk-around time, to wander off according to your own interests. For instance, if your are interested in environmental science, find the part of the science tower that houses environmental studies. See what is on the bulletin boards and poke your head into some labs. Act as if it is going to be your only visit.