How to Get Into Wesleyan: Admissions Stats + Tips

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“I came to Wesleyan intending to double major in theater and film, but I fell in love with the instant gratification of student theater. You’re telling me I can write something in the fall, apply to Second Stage, get a budget, and put it up in the spring? I am not throwing away my shot!”—Lin-Manuel Miranda, Wesleyan University ’02

 

Wesleyan University is a place for creative thinkers, risk takers, and leaders. Located in Middletown, Connecticut, the liberal arts college was founded in 1831 and is widely known as a prestigious school that celebrates the many talents of its diverse student body.

 

Given its many claims to fame, including an open curriculum, acclaimed faculty, and a rich array of extracurricular experiences, it’s no wonder Wesleyan receives thousands of applications every year. How can you increase your chances of admission?

 

How Hard Is It to Get Into Wesleyan?

 

During the 2020–21 admission cycle, 12,632 students applied, and 2,640 were admitted overall. This translates to an admissions rate of 20.9%.

 

Meanwhile, 51% were admitted early decision.

 

Wesleyan does have a very low acceptance rate, but your chances may be higher or lower depending on the strength of your profile. Use our free admissions calculator to find out your real odds of acceptance.

 

Average Academic Profile of Accepted Wesleyan Students

 

GPA

 

Wesleyan does not publish GPA statistics of their accepted students, but you should aim to get all A’s and take the most challenging classes available at your high school. 

 

SAT/ACT

 

For the 2020–2021 admissions cycle, students who enrolled had a middle 50% SAT range of 1340-1510, with 49% submitting scores, and an ACT range of 31-34, with 37% submitting scores.

 

Class Rank

 

With 31.1% of matriculating students submitting class rank, 67% were in the top 10% of their high school classes, and 98% were in the top 25%.

 

What is Wesleyan Looking for?

 

“The students who thrive at Wesleyan have—or aspire to—a unique fearlessness,” says Wesleyan. “They have the courage and audacity to want to shape the world in which we live.”

 

Wesleyan uses a holistic admissions process, paying attention to every aspect of your application, including your extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, the rigor of your course schedule, and your interviews, if you choose to participate (interviews are recommended).

 

The school notes that it considers students with achievements outside of the classroom — it seeks those who will share their unique perspectives and talents beyond the numbers.

 

This is clear from the fact that Wesleyan became test-optional in 2015. “We are unconvinced that standardized test scores accurately reflect college potential for all students, and believe that test scores unfairly advantage some applicants,” Wesleyan said. “Individualism and student choice are core values at the university; this policy extends that choice to applicants.”

 

How Wesleyan Evaluates Applications

 

According to Wesleyan’s 2020–2021 Common Data Set, the adcom considers this “very important”:

 

  • Rigor of secondary school record

 

These factors are “important”:

 

  • Class rank
  • Academic GPA
  • Application Essay
  • Recommendation(s)
  • Talent/ability
  • Character/personal qualities
  • First generation
  • Racial/ethnic status

 

These are “considered”:

 

  • Standardized test scores
  • Interview
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Alumni/ae relation
  • Geographical residence
  • Volunteer work
  • Work experience

 

These are “not considered”:

 

  • State residency
  • Religious affiliation/commitment
  • Level of applicant’s interest

 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Wesleyan

 

1. Achieve a high GPA while taking the most challenging classes available

 

Many selective colleges like Wesleyan use the Academic Index, a combination of factors like GPA and test scores, to ensure students meet their minimum standards before reviewing the rest of their application. That’s why it’s important to have an excellent GPA, as well as take the most challenging curriculum available to you.

 

If your GPA is lower, and you’re earlier on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get a higher test score.

 

2. Aim for a 1510 SAT and 34 ACT

 

Traditional wisdom suggests that you should aim for the 75th percentile of accepted students — 1510 SAT and 34 ACT. But Wesleyan has been test optional since 2015. 

 

However, we do recommend taking the test if you’re able to do so safely and submit scores if they are at or above the 25th percentile of accepted students (1340 SAT and 31 ACT). Students can get recommendations on whether or not they should apply test-optional using our free Chancing Engine

 

Wesleyan does superscore, so it’s wise to take the test more than once. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:

 

 

3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)

 

“We find that successful students who have developed a variety of talents and made commitments to school activities, civic and religious organizations, politics, and the arts are more likely to contribute to the life of this dynamically diverse Wesleyan community,” Wesleyan says.

 

Extracurricular activities are the best way to demonstrate these talents. Aim to have at least a couple Tier 1-2 extracurriculars, according to the 4 Tiers, with Tier 1 representing the most unique and exceptional and Tier 4 representing the most common. (Here are some examples of impressive ECs for college.)

 

It’s best to demonstrate 1-2 well-developed interests around which your activities are grouped, also known as a “spike.”

 

4. Write engaging essays

 

After you’ve cleared the academic thresholds, your Wesleyan and Common/Coalition app essays are an important way of demonstrating your unique voice and perspective. This is how you can set yourself apart and show not only that you have the academic prowess to succeed at Wesleyan but also that you can fit in well with the culture — in other words, that it’s a good fit.

 

5. Apply Early Decision

 

Wesleyan’s ED acceptance rate, 51%, is considerably higher than its overall acceptance rate of 20.9%. Even when accounting for profile strength, applying early can increase your chances of admission. This is especially true if you’re a borderline candidate — if your profile is considerably stronger or weaker than the average admitted applicant, you won’t gain a substantial edge.

 

There are other limitations to applying ED. Remember, for example, that this is a binding plan, meaning you’ll be required to attend Wesleyan if admitted. 

 

6. Secure strong teacher recommendations

 

“We want to know about your academic engagement, your curiosity, and your willingness to go above and beyond minimum requirements,” Wesleyan says. These qualities are evidenced by strong recommendations from teachers who know you well and can speak to your accomplishments.

 

Wesleyan prefers one recommendation from a math or science teacher and another from an English or social studies teacher. They also suggest asking teachers who taught you in 11th or 12th grade. 

 

How to Apply to Wesleyan

 

Deadlines

 

Application Timeline

Deadline

Early Decision I

November 15

Early Decision II

January 1

Regular Decision

January 1

Freeman Scholar Program

January 1

 

Application Requirements

 

  • Common Application or Coalition Application
  • Secondary School Report and official high school transcript(s)
  • Counselor Recommendation
  • Mid-year Grade Report
  • Two Teacher Evaluations
  • $65 Application Fee or Fee Waiver

 

Optional materials:

 

  • Standardized test scores
  • Interview
  • Supplemental Materials 

 

Learn more about Wesleyan

 


Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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