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Wellesley College

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What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

Before making a final decision, the following should be considered: tuition and financial aid, location, climate, social network, campus housing, meals (quality, affordability, availability), religious customs, sports and extracurricular activities, transportation, facilities, demographics, job availability, professors (availability, teaching ability, status of reknown), alumni network, and of course, the quality of education. Although some of these aspects seem trivial, these will all come to be of importance during the student's time at school. Remember: it will be his home for four of his most important years in terms of character and educational development. Where he chooses to attend college will very much affect who he becomes. The absolute best advice is to visit: sign up for a tour, find a host(ess) for some insider tips and a night's stay in a dorm, sneak into several lectures, and wander the campus and poke into its nooks and crannies. Visit the dining halls for a sampling of the daily fares, curl up with a book at the library, attend a sporting event or concert, and stop by the trendy cafe on the corner. Make an appointment with the dean to discuss the future. Photos and words just do not suffice.

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Its funny, because before college and all throughout college, whenever someone was commenting on, or adressing the experience of college, two phrases were repeated frequently: "Those were the best years of my life" and "college is where you learn how to learn, you learn how to study." Looking back now, summing up college into two phrases would be quite difficult, and maybe impossible. I dont feel Ive gained the insight or experience to comment on whether college was in fact the "best years of my life." I will say that college was an incredible experience. It is most likeley to be one of the most mentally challenging experiences you will ever have to muster. And while you learn an incredible amount, you surely must be mentally prepared, or at least motivated to accept the intellectual challenge college provides. In the simplest terms, my advice would be to make sure you can see yourself living and enjoying your surrounding environment, both social and academic. Make sure the location suits you. I would say know yourself, but so much of college is about growth and learning about yourself, that allowing yourself room to grow is imperative, and ultimatley the most rewarding.

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Finding the "right" college and making the most of the college experience are not easy, nor can they be accomplished in a short amount of time. College is about, as well as learning academic subjects, growing as a person who will have a positive impact on society. In my opinion, this personal and academic growth cannot happen in an environment that is not a good fit for an individual. I would highly recommend doing research on different kinds of schools early, visiting schools whenever possible, and keeping an open mind - sometimes the best-fit school is one you might not have originally had on your list. Affordability is also something to take into account: explore the financial support that different colleges can offer. Inability to afford tuition, having to take out enormous loans, etc., can often lead to stress which will ultimately result in a less than ideal college experience. In terms of making the most of the college experience, start the way you want to finish. If you want a high GPA, a good rapport with professors, and so on, begin college with that attitude. Develop good study habits early, and don't be afraid to ask for help!

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I would tell my high school self to reach out in all aspects of the college experience. Whether it be in class, at the campus center, or at orchestra, it is important to extend your connections in every opportunity presented. There are so many individuals at Wellesley who are intelligent and share the same interests. To make the most of the collegiate experience, not only is it important to study hard, it's also important to develop friendships. This is one of the most important aspects of the first few weeks of college. However difficult the task may be because of the overwhelming number of unfamiliar faces, it is entirely feasible. As a transfer student in high school, I was discouraged because of the difficulty in successfully transferring socially into my new educational atmosphere. I felt the same when I first arrived to college, but I now know that everyone felt those exact emotions upon arriving. Therefore, I feel that it would be important to tell my high school self to be as outspoken and as friendly as possible because developing friendships are of paramount importance and reaching out to others is a feat we all must overcome.

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Dear Christine, I appreciate your enthusiasm to impress the pretty girls and handsome boys, but I assure you it is not necessary. Unfortunately you won't stay friends with most of them so bring it back to you. Remember how excited you were when you were doing Habitat for Humanity in Texas and Virginia? Those were times your soul came alive. Find more times your soul comes alive. That reminds me, George... you're little brother. You will have terrific conversations with him before school this year. Over coffee or cereal, the two of you will talk about everything. In college you may see George slip away from you, start getting involved in drinking, and eventually drop out of school. So I ask you to cherish every single moment with George. Create as many deep moments with him as possible. When you look back on high school, the moments with George will be the brightest, most memorable moments that make your heart warm. Forget about the boys and the parties and what you look like. Focus on your soul and spend as much time with George as possible. He will always be the light of your eyes. With Gratitude, Christine

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Take some time and think about what qualities in a school matter most to you: think about location, religious affiliation, and class size. Once you have made a list ?school qualities,? look through a college guide to see which schools fit your profile. Take the time to visit your top few schools. When visiting, bring a notepad to write down your thoughts. Here?s a tip for moms and dads. Stay silent during campus tours to let your child get a true first impression. We may not admit it, but your opinion still influences us. After jotting down notes, students can hear their parents? input and still have their own thoughts to look back on. Trust your gut feeling when you are on campus and know that sometimes schools choose you. Once you choose your future school, come with an open mind and a willingness to learn and grow. College will bring more opportunities and challenges than you can imagine. Remember that anything that seems like a problem is just an opportunity to learn, as long as you don?t get scared. Enter college with courage and conviction, always ask questions, try new things, and have fun!

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For finding the right college, I would highly recommend visiting as many schools as possible. You never really know how comfortable you'll be in an environment until you've been there. Also, do some research: decide what is most important to YOU (whether it's academics, diversity, the extracurriculars available, or the overall feel of a campus) and find the schools that fit. As for making the most of the college experience, one rule: don't limit yourself. Don't be afraid to try new things, meet new people, learn from different points of view. College is about broadening your horizons, so take advantage of every opportunity to expand your own personal world. Challenge yourself to step out of your usual comfort zone, because the more comfortable you are with yourself, the better you'll fit into any future situation you could possibly land in. Most of all, keep yourself sane and try to do what makes YOU happy. College may be a blast, but it doesn't have to be the "best years of your life", because your life is still just beginning. Use college to set up an entire lifetime of "best years".

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To parents: The college experience and life after college has nothing to do with the name of the school. Everything rests on what the student makes of his or her time in school. Let your child (apply to and) choose the school that will let him or her thrive - psychologically, socially, and intellectually. To students: Choose the school that will give you options. What you want to do with your life right now could be and probably will be entirely different than what you will want in two years, or even a semester. Even though it makes it hard to figure out what you want to major in, having flexibility and being open to new fields of study will enrich your academic experience. So choose the place that will let you play around with your studies. Take classes that oppose each other in doctrine, practice, or theory. It will make your mind work and expand, and you will feel intellectually stimulated/fulfilled. When it comes down to it, college is about your growth as a person and as a student. Pick the most fertile place and the place that will tend to you. Most importantly, seek happiness.

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First of all, RELAX! College is as much about personal growth and enjoying the experience as it is about grades and academic prestige. The friends you make in college are the most amazing people you will ever meet and you should not be too stressed out to meet them. Friends will help you through the toughest times, and you will feel rewarded when you help them as well. Second, college is a lot more challenging than you expect. Getting good grades in high school was difficult and arduous, but getting the same grades in college will be next to impossible. Do not worry though! When you push yourself to do your best and set realistic expectations, you will be prouder of a "B-" that you earned than an "A" that was too easy. The most important lesson is how to motivate, discipline, and appreciate yourself. Picking yourself up after a disappointment is one of the hardest things to do; know that you tried as well as you could and keep looking forward. Finally, no mistake can ruin your life. You are the master of your fate: If you flunked one test, try harder on the next one. Live & Be Happy!

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It is important that you go to a college where you can be happy. Take everything about the schools into account including size, location, setting, class size, ratio of professors to students, quality of teaching, etc. If you are a student who cannot learn in a classroom with hundreds of people, you will not thrive in a school where the intro lectures are large. If you need to have access to off campus activities, don't go to a small school in a rural setting. Your happiness usually affects your performance in academics, so find a place you can be happy. Once there, stick around. It can be hard to be in a new place, but if you leave campus every weekend, you'll miss out on the fun times when people hang out. Pay attention to academics, but also get involved in other activities on campus. Meet lots of people and have friends in all sorts of different settings. The people you meet in college will eventually be your colleagues. Also, get to know your professors. Usually they care about their students, and the better they know you, the better their letters of recommendation will be.

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