As a highly selective university, Wesleyan University seeks exceptional students from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances who will thrive in and enrich the Wesleyan community. An applicant’s connection to a Wesleyan graduate indicates little about that applicant’s ability to succeed at the University, meaning that legacy status has played a negligible role in our admission process for many years. Nevertheless, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action, we believe it important to formally end admission preference for “legacy applicants.” We still value the ongoing relationships that come from multi-generational Wesleyan attendance, but there will be no “bump” in the selection process. As has been almost always the case for a long time, family members of alumni will be admitted on their own merits.
It is important to underscore that Wesleyan has never fixated on a checked box indicating a student’s racial identification or family affiliations. We have long taken an individualized, holistic view of an applicant’s lived experience—as seen through the college essay, high school record, letters of recommendation, and interactions with our community. Our admission decision is based upon diverse facets of the individual’s history, talent, potential to contribute to the university and get the most out of a Wesleyan education. Applicants’ achievements and promise are carefully considered in the context of their respective schools, public engagement, and personal circumstances. We will continue to do all of this.
By cultivating free speech, mutual respect, and values of inclusion, we seek to foster a sense of belonging for everyone on campus. By recruiting students, faculty and staff with diverse life experiences, attributes, and points of view, we continue to build a diverse, energetic learning environment comprised of people who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit.
Ending preferential legacy admission is the easy part. We will continue to work to:
- Ensure diversity in the student body.
- Pursue geographical diversity within the United States. We will continue to invest in recruiting students from around the country (and not just the coasts and the big cities).
- Create an annual scholarship program to recruit and support a group of undergraduates from Africa.
- Redouble efforts to recruit veterans. Building on our work with the Warrior Scholars Program, we will encourage the development of a pipeline of veterans interested in liberal arts colleges and universities.
- Strengthen our outreach to community-based organizations, college access programs, and Title I high schools.
- Enhance community college recruiting. Invest in building a pipeline of community college graduates interested in liberal arts colleges and universities.
- Solidify the Center for Prison Education. Ensure the sustainability of the degree program for incarcerated people.
- Increase financial aid support.
- Maintain a commitment to access and affordability, meeting the full demonstrated need of all matriculants while keeping loans to a minimum.
- Make the 3-Year Program more visible. Normalize the three-year option for more students who are trying to reduce the cost of college.
- Develop more free credit bearing courses delivered online or in a hybrid mode.
We will communicate further about each of these objectives in the weeks and months ahead.
Wesleyan has long had impact disproportionate to our numbers by empowering graduates to shape a changing world. We will continue to expand that impact through an equitable and forward-thinking admission process that finds talented people from around the country and the world to join our lifelong network of learning and accomplishment.
Michael S. Roth