On October 20th, I was fortunate to spend the day at Wheaton College in Norton Massachusetts. The college is midway between Boston and Providence (it’s a little closer to Providence) and is an easy train ride from either city and then a short shuttle bus ride to campus.  Judy Purdy, Director of Admissions, greeted me and Tim Cushing, Associate Director of Admission along with two current students ran the information session. After lunch I was fortunate to receive a tour with another student.

I visit many schools each year and one of the first things that was apparent to me was how happy and friendly the students are. Wheaton College is a small school with 1600 students and here are 5 aspects that make Wheaton unique:

  1. It is a “living/learning” community with 99% of the students living on campus and there are more than 100 clubs and organizations which is quite a large number for such a small school.

2.  Relationships between students and students and students and faculty and staff are very important. The average class size is 15-20 students and professors get to know their students. The president of the college is also a presence on campus. During finals he goes around campus handing out ice cream sandwiches and all freshmen have dinner at his house with him and his wife. In addition the admissions office staff members continue to mentor students. This is very unusual as typically once students are admitted and enrolled they have very little to do with the Admissions Office. 

3.  Comprehensive Liberal Arts Program – students are admitted to Wheaton College not to a particular major and there is a strong advising program to help students find their academic interests and passions and pursue them. There is also the opportunity to create your own major if a student has an interest that doesn’t fit into an established program.

4. Outside of Classroom Experiences – Hands-on learning is emphasized through the “Wheaton Edge” (http://wheatoncollege.edu/career-services/internshipsjobs/the-wheaton-edge/) which guarantees all students paid/funded internships and research opportunities. Students learn how to build a professional network, find internships, and write a resume all with the goal of helping students with career development. Study abroad (80+ programs throughout the world). I learned that the King of Bhutan went to Wheaton College and there is a study abroad program in Bhutan (http://wheatoncollege.edu/global/2010/09/02/royal-thimphu-college/) and it is very popular.

5. Campus is between two major cities which is a plus for Wheaton students. The proximity to Boston and Providence is helpful for students seeking internships. Six months after graduation 97% of the students are employed, in graduate school, post graduate scholarship programs (i.e. Fulbright Scholars), or in post graduate internships (i.e. one student has an internship at The White House).