Do you ever get the feeling Wesleyan is having a little bit of an identity crisis?
There’s a good chance that my ‘ideal’ Wesleyan doesn’t look exactly the same as yours; our concerns and tastes are different, as are our experiences here. But it is likely that the things you love most about Wesleyan are unique to it, are not quantifiable, and are not things that are in step with success as defined by any rankings algorithm. I’m serious about Wesleyan dropping out of college rankings like US News. Reed College president Colin Diver explains in a 2005 Atlantic article that “one-size-fits-all ranking schemes undermine the institutional diversity that characterizes American higher education…(as) The urge to improve one’s ranking creates an irresistible pressure toward homogeneity, and schools that… strive to be different are almost inevitably penalized.” In my opinion, Wesleyan students have been struggling against that subtle pressure in different ways for years now.
Brent Packer ’15 sez:
Come indulge your ear for an evening with us – the best dressed group
on campus – and Route 9, an all male a cappella group fresh-faced from
their journey from Amherst.
We will be performing some of our old classics for the last time, and
unveiling a crazy new piece that’s awesome. And Route 9 always has
something up their sleeves,
so COME ONE COME ALL
put down those books
slip into your groovin’ shoes
and kick off your weekend right – 7pm SHARP (get it?????)
Date: April 5
Time: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Place: Olin Lobby
In a wonderful twist of fate, the Men’s Varsity Soccer team has received a bid to the NCAA DIII Championship. Although the team lost to Amherst College 1-0 this past weekend in the NESCAC Semifinals in Wiliamstown, their performance this year has been enough to rocket them into the national competition. Amherst (15-0-2) took the NESCAC Championship this year, beating Williams (13-1-3) in the final game 2-0. Both teams will be going to the NCAA DIII Championships as well as Tufts—making for a strong NESCAC representation.
The first game will be against Haverford College (12-0-7), winner of the Centennial Conference, on Nov. 10th at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA.
The opportunity came as a real surprise to the team. Whether the team would snag the bid was completely up in the air, but in the end the judges deemed them worthy of a spot. Coach Geoff Wheeler told Wesleyan’s sports broadcasting service, WesPregame, that the team won the chance because of schedule strength. Although the Cardinals’ record is 9-4-3 (less impressive than, say, Williams’ record of 13-1-3), their ties and losses were against highly ranked teams, something the powers-that-be took into consideration when determining the NCAA’s Pool C.
Why so serious, USNWR?
Not that anyone cares, because these things don’t mean anything, and they’re all just so arbitrary, and because rankings do not even matter unless Wesleyan scores high, in which case it’s super-exciting and you can disregard all that other stuff, but…
Unfortunately, it’s just not our year. The U.S. News and World Report—which by the way, has ranked as the #1 most useless publication three years in a row in this list I keep in the top drawer of my desk—had the gall to rank the prestigious Wellesleyan College at #17, down five slots from last year (or really up, does anyone else ever think about that, because 17 is actually a greater number than 12, mathematically speaking?).
Here’s the list, but instead of focusing on why or how we dropped this year (cough overenrollment cough endowment-per-student figure), I thought instead I’d focus instead on what it means to be number 17. I didn’t get very far, so instead I thought about what it might mean to be a liberal arts college (not in like a 21st century-cost-efficient-MRoth sort of way).
If you haven’t noticed–and with today marking the end of winter break, odds are you haven’t–Wes men’s basketball is having a pretty kickass year, currently sporting a 14-5 record with a pair of wins over teams ranked in the top 25 nationally. Friday the 13th proved to be quite lucky for the Cards, who earned their largest win over Williams since 1985 with a 66-43 romp. Wes followed that with a three-point loss to Middlebury–the nation’s #1 team–and then a thrilling 68-67 win over Amherst (#4 nationally) and a 58-57 win over Tufts on Shasha Brown’s ’13 buzzer-beater.
Wes will host Connecticut College this Saturday as part of Family Hoops Day at Freeman; this is one of only two home conference games post-break (the other being a Super Bowl Sunday double-header against Hamilton). Both the Wes men and women (who, at 11-5, aren’t doing too shabbily themselves) will be looking to avenge losses to Conn that effectively did in their playoff hopes last season.
This is both teams’ first chance to play a conference game in front of the home fans this season. Come out and make sure the atmosphere is electric for what should be a great day of basketball!
Date: Saturday, Jan. 28
Time: 2 pm (women’s game)/4 p.m. (men’s game)
Place: Silloway Gym, Freeman
(Photo by SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)
Finally, news that can make Wesleyan, Yale, and Amherst look bad all at the same time. Anthony Marx [’81, almost], a former Wesleyan student who transferred to Yale after two years and served as Amherst’s 18th president until earlier this year, was arrested this Sunday on drunk-driving charges “after the library-owned car he was driving backed into a parked vehicle in Upper Manhattan.” The kicker: Marx is currently president of the New York Public Library. And he was driving a library owned car. And his blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal driving limit. And, oh, it was 3 pm on a Sunday afternoon:
According to the complaint, Mr. Marx was driving a 2009 Audi when the accident occurred in front of 10 East 138th Street around 3 p.m. on Sunday. The arresting officer, Alan Cheung, described Mr. Marx as having watery and bloodshot eyes and breath that smelled of alcohol, according to the complaint.
Mr. Marx released a statement on Monday through a library spokeswoman, Angela Montefinise, saying, “I deeply regret embarrassment caused to my family and to the New York Public Library.”
If the Shoutbox is any indicator, people are interesting in seeing Wesleyan’s popularity play out through history. Google’s new Ngram Viewer shows trends of how often a phrase has occurred over time in a certain corpus (e.g. American English, English Fiction, Russian) of texts. They’ve yet to scan every book ever, but they want to.
Wesleyan does pretty well, especially in recent times. Here’s how often “Wesleyan University” appears in “English”:
Early Decision I applications for Wesleyan were due November 15th. So how’d we do? Better. 3% better. Wesleyan received 515 applications in the ED I cycle, up from 500 last year. Yeah, 15 isn’t the hugest increase, but a 3% increase is better than any decrease. We’ll take what we can get.
In contrast, Williams went up only 1.3% and Amherst actually experienced a loss of 5.06%, making Wesleyan’s increase the largest of the Little Three. In the NESCAC, however, Hamilton tops it out with a 24.1% increase. In the category of “Universities with Binding Early Admission” so far, Lafayette had the biggest gain at 56.32% and Elon had the biggest loss at 14.7%.
In his post on the Times’ The Choice blog, Jacques Steinberg (who wrote a book featuring admissions at Wesleyan) notes what makes Early Decision special:
binding early programs continue to be a lightning rod for families and counselors; an applicant who applies under such a program, and commits to attend if accepted, loses the ability to not only field financial aid offers from other colleges, but also forfeits at least some potential leverage to persuade that institution to sweeten its scholarship proposals.
The chart I’ve extracted above shows the NESCAC results with Lafayette and Elon added in. Check out Steinberg’s post for information about other schools.
[NYT – The Choice]
With all this talk about rankings and all the fire that for-profit schools have come under recently, Gawker decided to try and rank the ‘real’ colleges whose students have amassed the most debt. They took total debt, which made bigger schools come out on top, giving NYU a not-so-surprising win.
But what about Wesleyan? What about debt per student, which is probably a better measure in the first place? We’ve always know that Wesleyan is an expensive place to go to, with one of the highest tuitions and comprehensive costs in the nation, but let’s take a look at the debt burden it places on the students. The “Median Federal Debt for Those Entering Repayment” for Wesleyan was $11,384.
Yes, Wesleyan’s $11,384 median looks meager compared to NYU’s behemoth of $28,649 (which isn’t even the highest). But what about comparable institutions? Our Little Three ‘frenemies’ Williams and Amherst have nearly identical medians at about $7,700 (are they even distinguishable schools anymore?), over $3,500 less than us. Nearby Connecticut College, however, has a similar if higher load. Vassar, who we seem to be compared to a lot, is also essentially similar to us in Median Federal Debt. Our “Estimated Repayment Rate” is lower than any of our peers though.
The source information comes from the US Department of Education’s ED.gov, which has other useful information. Click here for the relevant statistics directly from them. Click here for Gawker’s Top Ten Universities for Student Debt.
Sorry for the awfully Argus-y post.