Introduction - Wellesley College
Wellesley is a college for the student who has high personal, intellectual, and professional expectations. Beyond this common ground, there is no typical Wellesley student. Students come from all over the world, from different cultures and backgrounds, and they have prepared for Wellesley at hundreds of different secondary schools. Through the Davis Degree Program, women beyond the traditional college age, many with families, are part of the student body working toward a Wellesley degree. Women and men from other colleges and universities study at Wellesley through various exchange programs.
This diversity is made possible, in large part, by the Collegeâ€™s need-blind admission policy. Students are accepted without consideration of their ability to pay. Once admitted, those with demonstrated need receive financial aid through a variety of services.
Henry Fowle Durant, Wellesleyâ€™s founder, was an impassioned believer in educational opportunity for women. His strong philosophy carries over to the present day. Throughout its 129-year history Wellesley has been one of the countryâ€™s pre-eminent liberal arts colleges, and a distinguished leader in the education of women.
In some respects, the liberal arts curriculum at Wellesley has changed little since the College was founded. Though the structure of distribution requirements has evolved, the requirement that each student should be acquainted with the main fields of human interest has remained a constant. The concept of the major â€“ the opportunity for each student to establish mastery in a single area through concentrated study during her junior and senior years â€“ has remained consistent as well. The College is committed to this framework because it emphasizes the essence of education: the ability to speak and write clearly, the knowledge to manage quantitative data with ease, the confidence to approach new material, and the capacity to make critical judgments. These skills are essential â€“ whatever the student chooses to do with her life.
Within this traditional liberal arts framework, the Wellesley curriculum is dynamic and responsive to social change and new fields of study. The dramatic expansion of information of the last decades has led to an increasingly interdisciplinary course of study. Single majors in traditional disciplines have been joined by double majors and specially designed interdisciplinary and interdepartmental majors. Some departments also offer minors.
One of the first liberal arts colleges to establish a separate computer science department and computer science major, Wellesley remains at the forefront of technological development. Students and faculty in all disciplines use the Collegeâ€™s academic computing facilities in their courses and research. The Knapp Media and Technology Center provides state-of-the-art technology for students in courses ranging from multimedia language instruction to graphic arts.
The well-known Wellesley Centers for Women, composed of the Center for Research on Women and the Stone Center for Developmental Services and Studies, produce work of national importance about issues facing women in contemporary society.
The Wellesley-MIT cross-registration program allows students to combine the strengths of both institutions while remaining in residence on their own campuses. Students can complement their Wellesley majors with additional MIT courses in a variety of subjects including architectural design, urban planning, linguistics, financial accounting, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and the sciences.
The Twelve College Exchange Program brings women and men from member colleges to Wellesley for a semester or a year, and enables Wellesley students to live and study on another campus. The College also offers exchanges with nearby Brandeis University, Babson College, and Olin College of Engineering; Spelman College, a Black liberal arts college in Atlanta, Georgia; and Mills College in Oakland, California. In addition, Wellesley students are encouraged to spend a semester or a year abroad in programs at many institutions. Approximately 40% of Wellesley College students elect to spend a semester or year abroad.
The Wellesley faculty is a community of recognized scholars. They include scientists, artists, and political and economic analysts. Dedicated to teaching, they bring a vast range of academic and professional interests to the College. Many members of the faculty live on or near the campus. They are committed to all aspects of life in the Wellesley community and are available to students outside of the classroom.
There is one faculty member for every nine students. The average class size ranges from 17 to 20 students. A few popular introductory courses enroll more than 100, but these classes routinely break into small discussion groups under the direction of a faculty member. Seminars typically bring together 15 to 18 students and a professor to investigate clearly defined areas of interest. The low student-faculty ratio offers an opportunity for students to undertake individual work with faculty or honors projects and research.
Excellent academic facilities support learning at Wellesley. Students have access to virtually all the collections on campus through a computerized library system totaling over 1.5 million items. The holdings include more than 200 electronic databases; 11,000 electronic journals; 22,000 electronic books; 7,000 films on VHS and DVD; and 7,000 music CDs. Among the special holdings are a world-renowned Browning Collection, a Book Arts Collection, and a Rare Book Collection. Interlibrary loans through the Boston Library Consortium augment the Collegeâ€™s own holdings.
Wellesleyâ€™s strength in the sciences dates to the nineteenth century, when the Collegeâ€™s physics laboratory was the second in the country (the first being MIT). The Science Center brings together all the science departments, including mathematics and computer science, in a contemporary setting that fosters interdisciplinary discussion and study. Laboratories are completely equipped for a wide variety of fields. The Center also includes an observatory and an extensive complex of greenhouses.
Students in the arts find excellent facilities in the Jewett Arts Center and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center.
Wellesley recognizes that classroom activities and studying are only part of a college education. The residence hall system not only provides a pleasant and comfortable place to live but seeks to integrate academic and extracurricular life through educational programs. Residence life is administered in several ways, ranging from residence halls staffed by professional resident directors to student-run cooperatives.
For many students, the lessons learned competing on the athletic field, publishing the Wellesley News, or participating in a Wellesley-sponsored summer internship in Washington, D.C. have lifelong impact. The College encourages self-expression through over 160 established student organizations, as well as any interest that a student may choose to pursue alone or with a group of friends. Wellesley also supports those students who investigate religious issues and thought. The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life offers religious programs in many faiths, including denominational services for those who wish to participate.
As a small community, Wellesleyâ€™s quality of life depends upon the involvement and commitment of each of its constituents. For this reason, students participate in decision making in nearly every aspect of College life. They serve, frequently as voting members, on almost every major committee of the Board of Trustees, including the Investment Committee, as well as the Academic Council, the Board of Admission, and the Committee on Curriculum and Instruction. In academic departments, they frequently participate in the curriculum and faculty search committees. They also serve on committees that set policy for residential life.
Established in 1901 by student and faculty agreement, the Wellesley College Government Association is the official organization of all Wellesley students. Through Senate, its elected representative body, College Government officers are elected each spring on a campus-wide basis; Senate representatives are elected from each residence hall and from the Davis Scholars and Wellesley off-campus students.
Each student who comes to Wellesley College joins an extended community of alumnae. Some of them have been outstanding scholars and researchers, others have been businesswomen and leaders in politics and social issues, still others have made important contributions to their communities through volunteer work. No matter how they have chosen to make their mark in the world, these women have proven that four years at Wellesley College is just a beginning.
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