Are We Wesleyan? Thoughts about the new website

The Wesleyan website has been needing an overhaul for awhile, and after yesterday’s unveiling, it clearly got a major one. It seems more functional than it used to be, and it looks easier to find things than before. It’s more interactive – this Academic Sampler thing is cool.

But why is the entire site now an Admissions brochure? I wasn’t aware that we need to recruit new talent this desperately.

wesleyan new homepage2

The real big problem is the ill-advised “Are You Wesleyan?” series on the Admissions page, a series of trite rhetorical questions that are supposed to define our exceptional Wesleyan character. Or reveal our gloriously unique lack of definition, or something.

It’s more than a matter of taste. Yes, it’s clearly lame and makes Wesleyan students sound like tools. But moreover, it’s just trying way too hard. Why are you trying so hard, Admissions? It’s unseemly.

Applications are at a record high, and we already have a bigger draw than our peer institutions. Over the past few years Wesleyan has somehow greatly increased its cachet among applicants, without marketing itself as aggressively (and, well, desperately) as this Admissions page does.

Don’t mess with that! Whatever we’ve been doing has clearly been working. Advertising this blatant and un-self-aware will definitely not make Wes any more desirable than it already is to prospective students, and may well turn away those interesting, intellectually engaged applicants whose sensibilities are assaulted by the infuriatingly eager tone this site is trying to hustle them with.

Homeboy Ezra Silk ’10 ranted effectively about why the new Admissions page is so awful on the Blargus:

After seeing this nauseating trivialization of the entire Wesleyan student body on the new Wesleyan.edu, a strange, disorienting feeling overcame me. Walking around campus, I experienced a new tingle of camaraderie and joy with every passing face. I felt one with my fellow students in a way I never have before. “You’re not nearly as much of a cliché as Admissions thinks you are,” I thought, as someone hurried by. “Neither are you!” I thought to another. “Or you, or you, or you!”

The above poetic rendering is probably not what the adults who run this place think of us. At least, I hope not. This is obviously targeted towards high school kids who can’t yet understand what Wesleyan is actually like. So, perhaps it is more offensive to the intelligence of high school kids than it is to us. But I’m not so sure.

[…] What exactly is the message, here, that Admissions is sending? It’s pretty clear: We’re philosophical, we like to read books, we’re liberal, we’re hip, we’re interdisciplinary, we like to party, we’re dedicated intellectuals.

Sounds pretty good, right? But add all these things together (plus the infuriating tone) and we come off like a bunch of grade A douchebags.

Wesleyan is what it is. Don’t try to sum it up with a series of pithy statements that define us so heavy-handedly. That only trivializes what actually sets Wesleyan apart, which is something Admissions probably isn’t capable of expressing without this kind of triviality.

If you want to know what Wes is like, high school kids, talk to Wesleyan students. Once we stop contemplating infinity or quoting TV shows or whatever it is we apparently do all the time, we will probably give you more to form an opinion of Wesleyan character with than the packaged version you’ll get from something like this site.

So, University website redesign team, thanks for the effort. But whoever is behind this “Are You Wesleyan?” thing, please understand that general student reactions, a Twitter meme, and this post all show that we are really not amused.

Blargus: The New Wesleyan.edu: “Are You Wesleyan?” Me: Not Anymore!

48 thoughts on “Are We Wesleyan? Thoughts about the new website

  1. Pingback: “Are You Wesleyan” para-admissions campaign – Wesleying

  2. Pingback: Wesleyan’s Website: Past and Present – Wesleying

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  4. 2009

    I don’t understand why people like the graphics. There are like 500 different fonts? and the crimson was so much more sophisticated than`this grey. i like the old website even if it was a little old fashioned.

  5. 2009

    I don’t understand why people like the graphics. There are like 500 different fonts? and the crimson was so much more sophisticated than`this grey. i like the old website even if it was a little old fashioned.

  6. anon

    @16:

    I really doubt the uptick in admissions is because our admissions department is so much better than other schools’ whose numbers are decreasing. It seems much more likely that people heard about us from Obama’s visit and MGMT and such and the jump in admissions is due to increased name recognition.

    So yeah, the questions are pretty much just terrible.

  7. anon

    @16:

    I really doubt the uptick in admissions is because our admissions department is so much better than other schools’ whose numbers are decreasing. It seems much more likely that people heard about us from Obama’s visit and MGMT and such and the jump in admissions is due to increased name recognition.

    So yeah, the questions are pretty much just terrible.

  8. prefrosh

    I have to admit I did laugh at this when I first saw it. It is a little much – it should be a little less eager. It isn’t going to stop me from applying or anything, but I wouldn’t say it’s a positive change.

  9. prefrosh

    I have to admit I did laugh at this when I first saw it. It is a little much – it should be a little less eager. It isn’t going to stop me from applying or anything, but I wouldn’t say it’s a positive change.

  10. 2012

    I fucking hate it. It took me forever to find the portfolio link, whose surface area is about an inch at the top of the blasted page.
    Also, the admissions dept has to stop. All of it is stupid.

  11. 2012

    I fucking hate it. It took me forever to find the portfolio link, whose surface area is about an inch at the top of the blasted page.
    Also, the admissions dept has to stop. All of it is stupid.

  12. recent alumn

    OK,
    I was going to read all of you whine about the website, but then i got bored after comment # 3 about how the website is admissions-centered.

    First of all, SO WAS THE LAST ONE. If you think about how much of the old site you actually used compared to what was on it, that is the percent that was not admissions based.

    AND SPEAKING AS A FORMER ADMISSIONS SLUT, i would like to comment that the REASON that there has been such an extreme uptick in admissions rates is most likely because of the admissions office working triple time to do its job better. Don’t belittle people for making an effort when it seems to be working.

  13. recent alumn

    OK,
    I was going to read all of you whine about the website, but then i got bored after comment # 3 about how the website is admissions-centered.

    First of all, SO WAS THE LAST ONE. If you think about how much of the old site you actually used compared to what was on it, that is the percent that was not admissions based.

    AND SPEAKING AS A FORMER ADMISSIONS SLUT, i would like to comment that the REASON that there has been such an extreme uptick in admissions rates is most likely because of the admissions office working triple time to do its job better. Don’t belittle people for making an effort when it seems to be working.

  14. Noa

    How about this rollover for one of the front-page images:

    “All the world’s a stage at Wesleyan, where process, performance and understanding inform live productions”

    Our theater productions are informed by performance? What does that even mean?

  15. Noa

    How about this rollover for one of the front-page images:

    “All the world’s a stage at Wesleyan, where process, performance and understanding inform live productions”

    Our theater productions are informed by performance? What does that even mean?

  16. johnwesley

    I guess another way of stating what I just said is, if someone is sitting there reading those questions, it means they’ve probably come back a second or a third time. And, that’s kind of what you want.

  17. johnwesley

    I guess another way of stating what I just said is, if someone is sitting there reading those questions, it means they’ve probably come back a second or a third time. And, that’s kind of what you want.

  18. johnwesley

    Actually, someone not deliberately looking for them (like I was) would not even notice the meme questions, the gray-scaled graphics…fade in…and out too…slowly for someone in a hurry (like a prospie) to sit and critique.

  19. johnwesley

    Actually, someone not deliberately looking for them (like I was) would not even notice the meme questions, the gray-scaled graphics…fade in…and out too…slowly for someone in a hurry (like a prospie) to sit and critique.

  20. Anonymous

    I think its important to disambiguate between the new site’s CONTENT and LAYOUT. I think the designers did a fantastic job designing a clean, modern site that is easy to navigate. what those pages say (i.e. Admissions) is another matter entirely, but can we stop going around saying the site SUCKS just because of one page? yes, the admissions page SUCKS, but the website is a huge improvement

  21. Anonymous

    I think its important to disambiguate between the new site’s CONTENT and LAYOUT. I think the designers did a fantastic job designing a clean, modern site that is easy to navigate. what those pages say (i.e. Admissions) is another matter entirely, but can we stop going around saying the site SUCKS just because of one page? yes, the admissions page SUCKS, but the website is a huge improvement

  22. freshman

    If I had seen this when I was looking at colleges, there is no way I would have applied to Wesleyan. A mediocre admissions web site doesn’t influence me one way or the other, but one as cheesy and “annoyingly liberal” as this is a huge turn off for applying to a school. I answered “no” to all of these questions… does that mean I’m not Wesleyan?

  23. freshman

    If I had seen this when I was looking at colleges, there is no way I would have applied to Wesleyan. A mediocre admissions web site doesn’t influence me one way or the other, but one as cheesy and “annoyingly liberal” as this is a huge turn off for applying to a school. I answered “no” to all of these questions… does that mean I’m not Wesleyan?

  24. whatshername

    or actually instead of reinvention i might use redefinition. i don’t know, who cares, it sucks.

  25. whatshername

    or actually instead of reinvention i might use redefinition. i don’t know, who cares, it sucks.

  26. whatshername

    “unseemly” haha sheek, i love you!

    but really though i agree. however, i do think this crappy reinvention of the website is illustrative of their attempt at a crappy reinvention of wes. they can’t see the crappy in either situation so i must give them props for being consistent. in that way it is more honest than a lot of advertising that we’re used to.

    and there’s no doubt about it- this new site is for the prospective students and their parents. it’s a nice reality check for those of us who thought that we were pretty “wesleyan.” what that means is changing and sadly in a way that is making a lot of us want to distance ourselves from “wesleyan” as an adjective. i guess wes students were always thought of as annoying but we use to own it. now the administration owns this annoying.

    the new site is embarrassing.

  27. whatshername

    “unseemly” haha sheek, i love you!

    but really though i agree. however, i do think this crappy reinvention of the website is illustrative of their attempt at a crappy reinvention of wes. they can’t see the crappy in either situation so i must give them props for being consistent. in that way it is more honest than a lot of advertising that we’re used to.

    and there’s no doubt about it- this new site is for the prospective students and their parents. it’s a nice reality check for those of us who thought that we were pretty “wesleyan.” what that means is changing and sadly in a way that is making a lot of us want to distance ourselves from “wesleyan” as an adjective. i guess wes students were always thought of as annoying but we use to own it. now the administration owns this annoying.

    the new site is embarrassing.

  28. Alex

    first, i think a lot of those questions were pretty interesting and would describe me and many of my friends. that said, it does seem to be trying too hard. but then again, why shouldn’t wesleyan be trying to get people interested in applying? i don’t really see a fundamental flaw here.

  29. Alex

    first, i think a lot of those questions were pretty interesting and would describe me and many of my friends. that said, it does seem to be trying too hard. but then again, why shouldn’t wesleyan be trying to get people interested in applying? i don’t really see a fundamental flaw here.

  30. David

    As an alum from waaaaaay back (the mid 1960’s) I agree. Adults (the people in admissions are adults, aren’t they?) trying to communicate like they are blooming youth are invariably cringe inducing.

    The most annoying liberal arts school strikes again.

    Did they run this by any current students before they put it up? Test market it with any prospective students?

  31. David

    As an alum from waaaaaay back (the mid 1960’s) I agree. Adults (the people in admissions are adults, aren’t they?) trying to communicate like they are blooming youth are invariably cringe inducing.

    The most annoying liberal arts school strikes again.

    Did they run this by any current students before they put it up? Test market it with any prospective students?

  32. Liz

    well said, Sheek and Ezra. As a prefrosh, I always found admissions messages to be more revealing about the university’s marketing than a good barometer of the campus culture. I agree, these blandly liberal statements don’t say anything meaningful about the students, just that admissions is trying too hard. “Most annoying liberal arts college” – that’s seems to me more of what admissions has succeeded in conveying to prefrosh.

  33. Liz

    well said, Sheek and Ezra. As a prefrosh, I always found admissions messages to be more revealing about the university’s marketing than a good barometer of the campus culture. I agree, these blandly liberal statements don’t say anything meaningful about the students, just that admissions is trying too hard. “Most annoying liberal arts college” – that’s seems to me more of what admissions has succeeded in conveying to prefrosh.

  34. anonymous

    I agree 100%. I can honestly say I might be more turned off my this new admissions website that I was by the atrocious old one that was up.

  35. anonymous

    I agree 100%. I can honestly say I might be more turned off my this new admissions website that I was by the atrocious old one that was up.

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