Wesleyan University (CT)

Wesleyan University

Type: Liberal Arts
Size:  Small (2,900 Undergraduate)
Student Body: Mostly Undergraduate (400 Grad/Ph.D Students in Limited Fields);
Testing: Test Optional School
Admissions: 23.7% Accepted; 17% Early Decision
Students of Color: 31%
Freshman Retention Rate: 96%
Freshman Graduating After 4 Years:  90.6%
Travel Cost/Time/Airport: Low to Moderate; 3.5hrs, Springfield, CT (BCD)
Location: Northwestern Connecticut (Northeast)
Best For: Non-Music; Music Minor; Music optional

Located in Middletown, Connecticut, Wesleyan College has 2,900 full-time undergraduates, about 400 graduate and Ph.D. candidates, with 396 faculty members, for about an 8:1 student-faculty ratio. They offer a quality education where graduate students are not the dominant 

players for professors’ attention or research projects,  and its affordability along with the fact that it is a test-optional school. The problem we have with them is their affordability math is a bit… fuzzy. We have two big problems with their cost structure, which should not rule them out, but should have parents having a very candid discussion up front with them about what you can afford if your student elects to apply.


Wesleyan offers a great small liberal arts education that, like all schools, varies by department. There are 45 majors and over 1,000 courses offered at Wesleyan, including some interesting options like the College of Intregrative Sciences, where students learn inter-disciplinary  problem-solving to face new challenges in industry, environmental science, and public policy, and many cultural studies majors such as East Asian Studies, Jewish and Israel Studies, Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, and minors in Caribbean Studies. Their Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Science (IDEAS) minor is a structured hybrid learning environment for engineering and the applied sciences which is another stab at hybrid education. We would prefer to see a more open framework, like other schools that encourage hybrid education. This suggests that the faculty has a slightly more rigid framework that is bending much more slowly to the educational goal of a flexible system that worries more about outcomes for students than the process of their systems.

Wesley encourages capstone/senior thesis projects, but they remain an option for most majors, required in a few. See their page for a complete and current listing.  If you decide to attend, we would strongly recommend that option.

The school offers what they call a “Three Year Option” which is, more accurately a 3-1/2 year option, because you do two summer semesters to complete it. It still can save a bit of money, which may make up for their fuzzy math issues with cost.


Wesleyan uses the CSS profile, so if you have equity in anything, including a home, they are going to look at that and reduce your offer, so, when they claim 100% of the students’ need is funded, with $54M in aid, take that with a big grain of salt.

This is a school best suited for people with a 529 Fund or other college savings, or exceptionally deep alternative third-party scholarships.

They have a few sample funding scenarios to show you how you may fit their system.

Look at all four years:  Their tuition jumps in the latter two years because of increased housing costs for juniors and seniors to about $1888 a month including food.  We think that’s nonsense.  Of course, students can move off campus in those years. Rent in the area is around $800-$1000/mo. for a single room in an apartment. Students who double up in a room bigger than most dorm rooms can knock costs in half. That’s roughly $10K for a full year contract with utilities. Generous food still falls well below the cost of the on-campus combined.

Look at all of the pages at Admission and Financial Aid for cost because they don’t always agree, or costs find their way off the “sexier” admissions pages.

Wesleyan’s “total” numbers in the admissions page omit additional costs stated at their financial aid page: Books ($2,665), we found incidentals (furnishings/bedding/extras like coffee, going to a movie, etc.) ($200-800) on another page, and we estimate transportation at approx. $1600/yr. from Palm Beach International to Bradley in Springfield CT) for trips to/from school  plus bus/connecting annually, if they go/return without an escort from a parent.

That’s roughly $4,665 of average additional costs.

So the “small” costs, adjusted, are not so small:

  • $7,249 is their stated average net price for families with annual income below $30,000. That is $11,914 with all costs, or 39.7% of the family’s total annual income in that range!  They claim that “[m]ost families who earn less than $60,000 will be offered a financial aid package that is without loans.” Note “most” which means that for some there will be some haggling or a donut hole in funding may emerge.
  • $8,825 is the average net price for families with annual income between $30,000 and $60,000. Add the $4665 and you get $13,490 or 29% of average annual income in that range!
  • $18,350 is the average net price for families with annual income between $60,000 and $90,000. Add the $4665 and you get $23,015 or 30.7% of average annual income in that range!

On the positive side, it is also fair to point out that:

  • These costs are still, on average in range with the yearly tuition cost of state schools with room and board;
  • College savings plans and Florida 529 accounts, if you have them, lessen the impact against annual income, or eliminate it entirely because you can pay expenses like travel to/from school, needed supplies, even a computer for school with the funds and still maintain their tax benefits. As always, check with your tax professional for the specifics of how it affects you personally.

Wesleyan does have another cost saving option that profiles well for performing arts high school students who have taken a number of AP programs: Complete your degree requirements (32 credits) in three years.

Finishing early saves approximately 20% of the total costs of a BA degree. By using two AP and three Wesleyan summer sessions, you do not have to take an increased course load during any semester.


With a minority population of 31% of the student body in a state where the same population is just 18.4%, Wesleyan does an excellent job of recruiting.

Basic Facts at a Glance:

  • Highly selective, based on individual achievement and promise, with a commitment to enroll a diverse student body and meet full demonstrated need.
  • 9,477 applications received; 2,245 students admitted (23.7%); 814 students enrolled.  63% of those admitted don’t attend.  That’s a bit higher than 55-60% of selective schools in the small/medium range, and may indicate that funding may be a bigger issue here, so have that conversation with financial aid well before you apply to determine if it is worthwhile for you in your specific circumstances.
  • 959 applied in Early Decision (9% of applicants) and 370 were admitted (17% of admission offers)
  • 55% women, 45% men enrolled;
  • 31% students of color in Classes 2015–2018 (7.1% Black or African American; 8.7% Asian or Asian American; 9.8% Latino or Hispanic; .1% Native American, .1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; 5.7% two or more races); 8.5% international students
  • 63% of students enrolled were within the top 10% of their class.
  • High School Preparation:
    • 84% have taken calculus
    • 79% have taken biology, chemistry and physics
    • 77% have a fourth year (or equivalent) of one foreign language
  • Median SAT score for students enrolled: 700 verbal, 700 math, 710 writing; ACT 32
  • More than 1,000 courses offered in 46 departments, 45 major fields of study, 11 minor fields of study
  • More than 800 individual tutorials and private music lessons
  • 13 interdisciplinary programs and 11 certificates
  • Wesleyan-sponsored international programs in France, Italy, and Spain, with a special relationship with a program in Japan, and 150 other approved programs
  • Participant in the Twelve-College Exchange Program

Our Take

We drop Wesleyan one star for our affordability index because of the donut hole in funding that would need to be bridged for many families , the two-tiered tuition cost structure, and a website where the information financial information from admissions and financial aid has to be parsed quite a bit to get a full picture, and one star for its optional capstones projects, and the rigidity in its system that tries to artificially create “hybrid” minors without fully opening up the campus, as colleges like Williams do, to allow students to pick a pathway that fits how they need to position themselves for an ever more fluid careers landscape where new kinds of jobs with non-traditional combinations are going to be the norm, not the exception.

Discover more at wesleyan.edu



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  1. Pingback: List of Colleges and Universities with Capstone Projects (And their value) – TaDa!Education

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