Tag Archive for admissions

Gonzalez ’96 Named Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

Amin Gonzalez

Amin Gonzalez. (Photo by Adrienne Battistella)

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96 has been hired as Wesleyan’s new vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, President Michael Roth announced in an email to campus on July 17. He will begin in August.

Gonzalez, who was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Wesleyan, previously worked in the University’s Office of Admission as an associate dean in the late 1990s and 2000s. In this role, he selected, trained, and supervised the senior interviewers; coordinated the University’s fall Ambassador Program and supported spring yield efforts; served on the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and University Scholarship selection committees; and worked with the QuestBridge partnership team.

“Since Wesleyan is both where I learned to think critically as an undergrad and got my start in the admission field two decades ago, I’m incredibly excited and honored to serve as its next dean of admission and financial aid,” said Gonzalez. “I look forward to collaborating closely with members of my team, senior administrators, faculty, current students, alumni, and community partners to ensure Wes continues to attract, enroll, and graduate some of the most exceptionally talented, socially conscious, and dynamically diverse students from across the country and around the globe.”

Meislahn Reflects on Challenges of Her Career as Dean of Admission

"As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have," Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Student success “is what has recharged my batteries over the years and kept me doing this wonderful work,”  Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, will retire in September following the arrival of the Class of 2023, the 20th class she admitted to Wesleyan. In this Q&A, she reflects on the main challenges, changes, and highlights of her accomplished Wesleyan career. (Read her retirement announcement in this past News @ Wesleyan article.)

Q: You are the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan’s history. How are you feeling ahead of your impending retirement?

A: Definitely a bittersweet moment, but I’m ready. I’ve admitted 20 classes to Wesleyan and that should be enough—for me and for the institution. Time for new leadership! I firmly believe we are all replaceable and that change is good.

Q: During your tenure, applications to Wesleyan (including international student applications) have nearly doubled. To what do you attribute this impressive growth?

A: It was a clearly articulated strategic goal to double the international student population, and create a bigger “global footprint” on campus. So, we set out to work! We increased Wesleyan’s on-the-ground presence, expanding recruitment especially in India, Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, building on the very strong reputation of the Freeman Scholars program. We invited overseas counselors to campus and increased our engagement with international professional associations. It has been a team effort and extremely rewarding to see how we’ve been able to bring more students from all over the world to Wes.

Following Record Applications, Wesleyan Admits Historically Diverse Class of 2023

The Class of 2023 will be welcomed to campus on Aug. 28, 2019.

Wesleyan received a record 13,358 applications for its Class of 2023, offering admission to 2,114 students (15.8%) from one of the most competitive, diverse applicant pools in the University’s history.

“Because of the nature of the students Wesleyan attracts and looks for, it’s difficult to sum up an entire class succinctly,” said Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Nancy Hargrave Meislahn. “We hope these statistics convey what we value in the admission process and as an institution: diverse, socially conscious, academically talented students with a wide range of interests. One thing the students we look for have in common is their intellectual curiosity.”

Admitted students hail from 58 different countries, and nearly half (49%) are students of color, up from 45% the previous year.

“The applicant pool was exceptionally talented and competitive this year,” Meislahn said. “That required some difficult decisions, as is often the case. We are extremely proud of the pool of students we have admitted. And the increase in offers to students of color reflects our University’s historic commitment to a diverse student body and comes at a poignant time, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of African American Studies at Wesleyan.”

Wesleyan was a leader among selective institutions in making standardized testing optional for applicants in 2014. The change allows students more control in how they present themselves to the admission committee and is intended to improve access for underserved communities, students of color, and first-generation scholars who may not have access to standardized test preparation opportunities. Of those admitted to the Class of 2023, 80% made their test scores available, with median scores of 34 ACT Composite, 750 SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and 780 SAT Math.

Prepared to work across the full Wesleyan curriculum, more than 80%of admitted students have taken calculus (89%), biology/chemistry/physics (84%), and four years of foreign language study (82%) as part of their high school preparatory studies. Fifty percent of admitted students applied for need-based financial aid, with Wesleyan meeting the full demonstrated need for all those admitted.

Year-to-Year Consistency

The admitted Class of 2023 is similar in many ways to recently admitted classes:

  • 1,141 female (54%) and 973 male (46%) students
  • 82% live outside of New England
  • 16.5% live in other countries
  • 17% speak English as a second language
  • 13% are international students
  • 14% are first-generation students
  • 10% have a Wesleyan alumni or student relative

The students include 403 admitted and matriculating through Wesleyan’s early admittance program, 22 students through QuestBridge (a nonprofit program linking underprivileged or low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities around the US), and nine Wesleyan Posse veterans as part of the University’s sixth year of partnership with the Posse Foundation.

China, India, United Kingdom Lead International Student Enrollment

In total, admitted students represent 80 different countries of citizenship (including those with permanent US residency). Of the international students admitted, China (68), India (44), and the United Kingdom (31) account for the countries with the largest number, followed by South Korea (24), France (15), and Thailand (13). In demonstration of the breadth of Wesleyan’s global reach, other countries represented include: Azerbaijan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Burundi; Chile; Egypt; Greece; Iran; Kyrgyzstan; Paraguay; Peru; Sri Lanka; and the Bahamas.

WesFest 2019: A Celebration of All Things Wesleyan

With the last round of acceptance offers mailed on Friday, March 22, and released online on Saturday, March 23, the campus community is now looking forward to WesFest, a three-day celebration of all things Wesleyan, which begins on Wednesday, April 10.

“We in admission are so grateful for everything our community does and will do throughout the month of April to help our admitted students choose Wesleyan,” Meislahn said. “We can’t wait to see everyone at WesFest, wearing their red and black, and helping our admitted students say Yes to Wes!”

Meislahn to Retire as Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

 Nancy Meislahn is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history.

Nancy Meislahn is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history.

Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, recently announced that she will retire. Meislahn will leave the University in September after the arrival of the Class of 2023, the 20th class she will admit to Wesleyan.

Meislahn came to Wesleyan from her previous role at Cornell University in January 2000 and is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history. Over the past two decades, she has overseen a period of enormous growth and progress in Wesleyan admissions. For the Class of 2004, the first class admitted under Meislahn, Wesleyan received fewer than 7,000 applications and had a 27 percent acceptance rate. In contrast, nearly 13,000 applicants sought a spot in the Class of 2022, which enrolled this fall, and the acceptance rate was only 17 percent. Applications from students around the world increased dramatically during this period, and the international student population on campus has doubled.

"As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have," Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

“As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have,” Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In an email to the campus community, President Michael Roth ’78 wrote, “Nancy has led an admission and financial aid operation that embodies core Wesleyan values. She spearheaded several important initiatives to make Wesleyan more affordable for families in need of financial assistance, and expanded access to students from underrepresented backgrounds who may not have even considered applying here in the past.” Examples include building on long-standing relationships with organizations like Prep for Prep and A Better Chance and creating new partnerships with QuestBridge and the Posse Veteran Scholars Program.

Under Meislahn’s leadership, the Office of Admission also transitioned to an entirely paperless operation, introduced a test-optional policy, made Wesleyan’s admission process friendlier to undocumented and DACA-status students, and implemented two different database systems.

Roth added, “Nancy’s passion for her work and for Wesleyan shines through to all who meet her, whether it’s in cheering on our lacrosse and rowing teams, celebrating the creative work of our faculty and students, or in declaring ‘Say Yes to Wes!’ every spring.”

“I’ve often said this is simply the best job,” said Meislahn. “I’ve been so fortunate to work with some of the smartest, best educated, and most committed staff in admission and financial aid. As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have.”

Roth said that he intends to conduct a national search to find a successor, and will share more information in the coming months.

Meislahn staffs the desk inside the newly-remodeled Office of Admission.

Thornton Leaving Legacy of Student of Color Recruitment at Wesleyan

Since joining Wesleyan in 1985, Thornton has been instrumental in establishing and leading the University’s historic commitment to a diverse and academically elite student body, a defining feature of the Wesleyan experience. As he wraps up his final fall semester, Thornton took time to sit down in his office across Foss Hill and reflect on his accomplishments, Wesleyan’s future, and some of his fondest memories.

Since joining Wesleyan in 1985, Cliff Thornton, associate dean of admission at Wesleyan has been instrumental in establishing and leading the University’s historic commitment to a diverse and academically elite student body, a defining feature of the Wesleyan experience. Having served Wesleyan—now for more than 30 years, Thornton recently announced that he will retire at the end of the Spring 2019 semester. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

To listen to Cliff Thornton speak with prospective students and parents is to feel included, even if you’re eavesdropping.

Thornton is associate dean of admission at Wesleyan, covering a wide geographic and socioeconomic range: the South Central U.S. from Kentucky to Louisiana, Manhattan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean. Having served these communities—and Wesleyan—now for more than 30 years, it makes sense that he would demonstrate an ease and fluency in his relations with so many different people from such different backgrounds. He’s had a lot of practice.

But something unique about Thornton, which by many accounts has been true from the beginning of his time at Wesleyan, is how his holistic approach impacts students. To hear him tell it:

“Alumni will often start out by saying to me, ‘You probably don’t remember me, but I graduated from Wesleyan in 1995….’ And I always remember them. That’s why I’ve continued to do this work. I’ve had the privilege to witness their growth and success,” Thornton said.

“Working in admission is good in two ways. First, it’s great to be in an educational environment and to believe in the mission. Second, if practiced correctly, it’s a lot like teaching. It might surprise some to hear this, but at the end of the day I don’t consider it my job to make sure a student comes to Wesleyan. My job is to help them make an informed decision. Particularly with underrepresented populations, this is a big challenge. As Dr. Cornel West has said of the African American community: What we often suffer from is a poverty of information. That’s a driving force for me—making sure students have the right information to make such a crucial decision.”

This approach bears itself out in Thornton’s work on a daily basis. In a recent information session with a large group of prospective students and parents, he was clear that the session should be a conversation. Hearing and helping the group talk through their questions and concerns was as important as presenting to them. Fifteen minutes in, students and parents alike were openly talking about their college search experiences (good and bad), and were responding to and assisting one another. Thornton and senior interviewer Shana Laski ’19 served more as facilitators than lecturers. By the session’s end, the prospective group left informed and enthused—well-educated on what Wesleyan had to offer, and clearer about what they wanted and had to offer in turn.

Thornton’s unique understanding and approach at least partially derives from his own educational background. Prior to joining Wesleyan in 1985, he was an adjunct professor and actively considering a PhD. While dating someone who was already enrolled in a doctorate program, he was exposed to the “torturous path” of attaining that terminal degree, and was bumped from his adjunct role by another professor with a PhD.

“I lost my taste for wanting to be a professor,” he said.

Early Decision Applications Up More than 16%

Wesleyan received 742 applications for early decision this fall, an increase of 16.6 percent over last year. The increase of more than 100 applications provided Wesleyan with its biggest pool ever in early decision, according to Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid.

Additionally, Wesleyan received the most ever applications from international students, up 75 percent. Other diversity measures were also strong, with a 44 percent increase from students of color in the United States and a 56 percent increase from African American students.

“These results are most gratifying,” Meislahn said. “Potential applicants hold Wesleyan in high regard and to have so many see Wesleyan as their first and only choice should make us all proud.”

The early decision application increase follows a substantial jump last year in applications overall. For the class of 2020 entering this fall, 12,026 students had applied, marking a 22 percent increase over the previous year and a 10 percent increase over the previous all-time high three years ago for the Class of 2017.

The new Hamilton Prize has added excitement to the fall admission season, with many applicants expressing interest in the prize, a four-year full-tuition scholarship.

The Admission Office released early decisions to applicants on Dec. 10.

“We have every confidence these first members of the Class of 2021 will contribute to the vitality of the Wesleyan community. Early decision students form the heart of the class at Wesleyan and this heart is healthy and strong!” Meislahn said.

Wesleyan to Consider Undocumented/DACA Status Applicants as Domestic Students in Admission Process

Wesleyan University announced that it will begin considering undocumented and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status applicants who have graduated from a U.S. high school as if they were U.S. citizens or permanent residents, beginning with the class entering in fall 2017. This policy change has important implications for admission and financial aid for these prospective students.

“Supporting these talented and deserving young people is the right thing to do, and is consistent with Wesleyan values and our commitment to equity and inclusion,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth.  “Many of these students were brought to this country at a young age by their parents and have lived here most of their lives. They ought to have the same access to a high-quality college education as any other student from this country.”

President Roth Joins Campus Tour

In a moment of serendipity, Wesleyan President Michael Roth found his walk to work coinciding with the path of an Admission tour group. With his red umbrella aloft, he walked into the crowd of prospective parents and students near the steps of North College. He listened for a while before blowing his cover by asking “Does anyone have any questions for the president this morning?”   Members of the group captured the moment on their smartphones.

In a moment of serendipity, Wesleyan President Michael Roth (pictured at far left) found his walk to work coinciding with the path of an Admission tour group on April 12. With his red umbrella aloft, he walked into the crowd of prospective parents and students near the steps of North College. He listened for a while before blowing his cover by asking “Does anyone have any questions for the president this morning?”
Members of the group captured the moment on their smartphones.

 

Wesleyan Receives Record Number of Applications for Class of 2020

The Office of Admission received more than 12,000 applications for the Class of 2020. 

The Office of Admission received more than 12,000 applications for the Class of 2020.

At a time when many are decrying the demise of liberal arts colleges, Wesleyan has received its largest application pool ever for the Class of 2020. As of Feb. 1, 12,026 students had applied, marking a 22 percent increase over the previous year and a 10 percent increase over the previous all-time high three years ago for the Class of 2017.

“We’re very pleased by not only the sheer number of students who can see themselves at Wesleyan—amongst the highest of any liberal arts college—but also by the highly talented and diverse nature of the applicant pool,” said President Michael Roth. “I’d like to believe this is evidence that we’re about to see a resurgence of pragmatic liberal arts education in this country.”

Wesleyan Partners with Say Yes to Expand Educational Access

sayyesContinuing its long-standing tradition of expanding access to higher education, Wesleyan recently announced a new partnership with Say Yes to Education.

Say Yes works with students from low-income and other background historically underrepresented in the nation’s colleges and universities from partner locations including Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y., Harlem, Hartford, Conn. and, most recently, Guilford County, N.C. Students have access to full-tuition scholarships as well as a wide array of supports and services—academic, social, emotional, medical and legal—to help them successfully navigate the path to college readiness.

Diversity and Talents of the Class of 2019

The Class of 2019 gathered for the traditional panoramic class photo Sept. 2.

The Class of 2019 gathered for the traditional panoramic class photo Sept. 2. (Photo by Rick Culliton)

On Sept. 3, Meg Harrop '19 met with her academic advisor, Professor of Economics Richard Grossman, to discuss her fall semester pre-registaton enrollments and educational goals. The individual faculty advising appointments are part of New Student Orientation for the Class of 2019. 

On Sept. 3, Meg Harrop ’19 met with her academic advisor, Professor of Economics Richard Grossman, to discuss her fall semester pre-registaton enrollments and educational goals. The individual faculty advising appointments are part of New Student Orientation for the Class of 2019. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

By 9 a.m. Sept. 2, vehicles brimming with backpacks, boxes, books, bedding, microwaves, clothes, laptops, lamps and dorm decor descended on Andrus Field. Members of the Class of 2019, with help from their families and fellow students, moved into their student residences and immediately began New Student Orientation (See photos and a video of Arrival Day here).

Meg Harrop ’19, who is on the women’s soccer team, said her transition to Wesleyan has been “incredibly welcoming, smooth and comfortable.”

“There are only about nine other students in my hall, but everyone has such different backgrounds and interests, and the orientation activities helped me learn something new and meaningful about each of them,” she said. “Everyone is excited to get to know each other, so everyone seemed comfortable approaching new people and knocking on other hall mates’ doors. I can’t wait to meet new people in my classes and get to know my professors!”

Students in the Class of 2019 were selected from some of the toughest competition the Office of Admission has ever seen.

“Our new students are superbly prepared—by traditional academic measures as good as it gets. And, particularly well prepared to work across the entire curriculum of arts and sciences,” said Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid. “The range of talents, cultures, family backgrounds in this group is remarkable. In many ways, this may be the most diverse class ever enrolled at Wes—and that’s saying something!”

Members of the Class of 2019 moved into their student residences on Sept. 2.

Members of the Class of 2019 moved into their student residences on Sept. 2. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

In 2014-2015, Wesleyan received 9,905 applicants for first-year fall admission into the Class of 2019. Of those, 2,181 were admitted and 758 expected to matriculate.

The Class of 2019 is 44 percent male and 56 percent female. International students make up 11 percent of the entire class and come from more than 40 countries including Brazil, Cuba, Ethiopia, Nepal, Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates. More than 100 students reside outside the U.S., and 80 are citizens of other countries.

Forty-two percent of the students (including international) are self-identifying students of color, the highest percentage in at least five years.

“This is as cosmopolitan and international a class as Wesleyan has seen,” Meislahn said.

Seventeen percent of the Class of 2019 are first-generation college students. Thirteen percent have a Wesleyan alumnus/ae or student relative.

The Class of 2019’s top projected majors are economics, biology, psychology, film studies and English while 13 percent are undecided.

Fifty-one percent of the class is receiving financial aid.

“We think we’ve assembled a remarkably engaged and talented group of new students—the next generation who are committed to making a difference wherever in the world they are, here at Wesleyan or beyond the university,” Meislahn said. “The variety of talents and commitments to school groups, civic and religious organizations, politics and the arts that these students bring bodes well for the life of this vibrant community called Wesleyan.

 

Students Gain Skills, Help Departments While Working on Campus this Summer

More than 185 Wesleyan students are employed in various campus departments over the summer. Of those, about 78 are work-study eligible. Students earn money that can be contributed to the cost of their education, while learning skills that will benefit them in the classroom and beyond. Employers benefit from students’ skills, insight and enthusiasm.

Andrea Vargas ’17 is spending her summer working as a student assistant for the Office of University Events and Scheduling. She also holds this job during the academic year. “I use a computer program to process information about campus events. We handle all the logistics for events, and right now I’m planning for faculty lectures that will be held next fall.”

Andrea Vargas ’17 is spending her summer working as a student assistant for the Office of University Events and Scheduling. She also holds this job during the academic year. “I use a computer program to process information about campus events. We handle all the logistics for events, and right now I’m planning for faculty lectures that will be held next fall.”