Northwestern vs Wellesley: A Side-by-Side Analysis

July 14, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Female students looking out the window while thinking

Northwestern vs Wellesley: A Side-by-Side Analysis

If you’re a student navigating the college admissions process, you might be considering Northwestern University vs Wellesley College as the potential school to attend. These two institutions, while both highly respected, offer very different experiences when it comes to academics, campus culture, and overall campus life.

In this comprehensive analysis, we’ll break down the differences between Northwestern and Wellesley to help you make a more informed decision about which school is the best fit for you.

Introduction to Northwestern vs Wellesley

Northwestern University and Wellesley College are both well-known institutions located in the United States. Northwestern, located in Evanston, Illinois, is a large university with over 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Wellesley College is a small liberal arts college located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with just over 2,300 students.

Northwestern University is known for its strong programs in journalism, engineering, and business. The Medill School of Journalism, McCormick School of Engineering, and Kellogg School of Management are all highly regarded programs within their respective fields. Northwestern also has a strong athletic program, with 19 varsity sports teams competing in the Big Ten Conference.

Wellesley College, on the other hand, is known for its strong programs in the humanities and social sciences. The college has a long-standing tradition of educating women and empowering them to become leaders in their fields. Wellesley is also home to the Davis Museum, which houses a collection of over 11,000 works of art from around the world.

A brief history of Northwestern vs Wellesley

Northwestern was founded in 1851 and has grown into one of the premier research universities in the country. Wellesley, on the other hand, was founded in 1870 as a women’s college and has remained committed to providing an excellent liberal arts education to women ever since.

Young woman holding her books on a school campus.

Despite their different origins, Northwestern and Wellesley share a commitment to academic excellence and innovation. Northwestern has been at the forefront of groundbreaking research in fields such as medicine, engineering, and journalism, while Wellesley has produced numerous accomplished alumnae in fields such as politics, literature, and the arts.

Both institutions have also undergone significant changes over the years. Northwestern has expanded its campus and academic programs, while Wellesley has become more diverse and inclusive, admitting transgender students and offering more opportunities for students of color and low-income backgrounds.

Campus Location and Size: Northwestern vs Wellesley

Northwestern has a large campus located just outside of Chicago, with easy access to the city. Wellesley’s campus is located just outside of Boston, MA, and is situated in a more suburban setting. In terms of size, Northwestern’s campus is much larger than Wellesley’s, which is typical for a research university.

Despite the size difference, both campuses offer a variety of amenities for students. Northwestern has multiple dining options, including a food court and several cafes, as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center. Wellesley also has a variety of dining options, including a dining hall with a wide range of food choices, and a fitness center with a pool and group exercise classes.

Another difference between the two campuses is their proximity to other universities. Northwestern is located near several other universities, including Loyola University Chicago and the University of Chicago, which allows for easy collaboration and networking opportunities.

Wellesley, on the other hand, is located near several liberal arts colleges, including Babson College and Olin College of Engineering, which provides a unique academic environment for students.

Admission requirements and acceptance rates of Northwestern and Wellesley

Both Northwestern and Wellesley are highly selective institutions, with acceptance rates hovering around 9-10%. However, the two schools do have slightly different admissions requirements.

Northwestern requires standardized test scores (either SAT or ACT), while Wellesley has been test-optional for a few years. Instead, students must submit a graded writing sample and two teacher recommendations.

Another difference between Northwestern and Wellesley is their approach to extracurricular activities. Northwestern values a well-rounded student who is involved in a variety of activities, while Wellesley places more emphasis on depth of involvement in a few select activities. This means that students applying to Wellesley should focus on showcasing their passion and commitment to a few specific interests.

Two students walking in the school halls.

Additionally, Northwestern and Wellesley have different academic strengths. Northwestern is known for its strong programs in journalism, theater, and engineering, while Wellesley is renowned for its liberal arts curriculum and strong programs in women’s studies and political science. Students should consider their academic interests and goals when deciding which school to apply to.

Cost of Attendance: Northwestern vs Wellesley

As with most private institutions, both Northwestern and Wellesley are expensive. In the 2021-2022 academic year, Wellesley’s tuition and fees are $59,084 and Northwestern’s tuition and fees are $58,701. However, both schools are committed to providing need-based financial aid to students who need it.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance at these institutions goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students must also consider the cost of room and board, textbooks, and other expenses. At Wellesley, the estimated cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year is $78,220, while at Northwestern it is $78,654. It is crucial for students and their families to carefully consider all of these costs when making decisions about where to attend college.

Academic programs offered at Northwestern and Wellesley

Northwestern offers nearly 200 academic programs, with strength in areas such as journalism, business, and engineering. Wellesley, on the other hand, offers 56 academic programs across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Both Northwestern and Wellesley offer a variety of interdisciplinary programs that allow students to explore multiple fields of study. Northwestern’s Integrated Science Program combines biology, chemistry, and physics, while Wellesley’s Environmental Studies program combines biology, geology, and political science. These programs provide students with a well-rounded education and prepare them for careers in a variety of fields.

The faculty-to-student ratio at Northwestern and Wellesley

Wellesley has a very low faculty-to-student ratio of 8:1, which means that students receive a great deal of individual attention from professors. Northwestern’s ratio is slightly higher but still impressive at 7:1.

Having a low faculty-to-student ratio is beneficial for students as it allows for more personalized attention and support from professors. At Wellesley, this ratio is maintained by the college’s commitment to hiring more faculty members as the student body grows.

Northwestern also prioritizes small class sizes and individualized attention, with many courses capped at 20 students or fewer. Both schools’ dedication to maintaining a low faculty-to-student ratio is reflected in the high quality of education they provide.

Campus life and student activities at Northwestern and Wellesley

As a large research university, Northwestern has a great deal of variety when it comes to student activities. There are over 500 student organizations on campus, including Greek Life, club sports, and academic organizations. Wellesley, on the other hand, is a smaller campus, but still offers a wide variety of clubs and organizations for students to join, including a vibrant arts community.

Northwestern also has a thriving music scene, with multiple cappella groups and a symphony orchestra. The university also hosts a number of concerts and performances throughout the year, featuring both student and professional musicians. In addition, Northwestern has a strong tradition of community service, with many opportunities for students to get involved in volunteer work both on and off campus.

Students laughing while walking in the school campus.

At Wellesley, students can participate in a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing. The college also has a strong focus on sustainability, with many student-led initiatives aimed at reducing waste and promoting environmental awareness. Additionally, Wellesley has a robust internship program, with many students taking advantage of opportunities to gain real-world experience in their chosen fields.

Housing options for students at Northwestern and Wellesley

Both Northwestern and Wellesley offer a variety of housing options for students, including dorms, apartments, fraternities, and sororities. Northwestern has a number of residential colleges that offer students a tight-knit community within the larger university, while Wellesley requires all students to live on campus for all four years.

At Northwestern, students can choose to live in traditional dorms or in apartment-style housing. The university also offers themed housing options, such as gender-inclusive housing and substance-free housing.

Additionally, Northwestern has a program called the Residential College Program, which allows students to live in a community with other students who share similar academic interests.

Wellesley’s on-campus housing options include traditional dorms, suites, and apartments. The college also has a number of themed housing options, such as language houses and wellness housing. All students are required to live on campus for all four years, which fosters a strong sense of community and allows for easy access to campus resources and activities.

Career services offered by Northwestern and Wellesley

Both Northwestern and Wellesley have strong career services programs that offer resources such as resume and cover letter reviews, interview tips, and internship and job search assistance. Northwestern’s program, in particular, is known for its focus on preparing students for careers in business and entrepreneurship.

In addition to the standard career services offered, Northwestern also provides students with access to a vast network of alumni who are successful in various industries. This network allows students to connect with professionals in their desired field and gain valuable insights and advice.

Wellesley’s career services program, on the other hand, places a strong emphasis on helping students explore and pursue careers in public service and non-profit organizations. The program offers specialized resources and events tailored to these fields, as well as opportunities for students to engage in community service and social justice initiatives.

Athletics programs at Northwestern and Wellesley

Northwestern is a Division I school and offers a wide range of athletic programs for students to participate in, including football, basketball, and soccer. Wellesley, on the other hand, has a smaller athletic program, but still offers students the opportunity to participate in Division III sports and intramural activities.

Despite the difference in size and scope of their athletic programs, both Northwestern and Wellesley prioritize the well-being and safety of their student-athletes. Both schools have dedicated athletic trainers and medical staff to ensure that athletes receive proper care and treatment for injuries.

In addition to traditional sports, Northwestern and Wellesley also offer unique athletic opportunities for students. Northwestern has a highly competitive varsity dance team, while Wellesley has a popular equestrian program that allows students to ride and compete in horse shows.

Notable alumni from Northwestern and Wellesley

Northwestern and Wellesley have both produced a number of successful and notable alumni. Northwestern’s notable alumni include actor Zach Braff, comedian Seth Meyers, and businesswoman Ginni Rometty. Wellesley’s notable alumni include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, journalist Diane Sawyer, and poet Sylvia Plath.

Female student smiling at the camera while in a library.

In addition to these well-known alumni, Northwestern has also produced successful athletes such as NFL quarterback Trevor Siemian and Olympic gold medalist swimmer Matt Grevers. Northwestern is also known for its contributions to the field of journalism, with notable alumni including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Fahrenthold and CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin.

Wellesley has also produced notable figures in the arts, including actress and comedian Ali Wong and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and poet Jhumpa Lahiri. In addition, Wellesley has a strong tradition of producing women leaders in politics, with notable alumni including former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift and former US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

Comparison of student diversity between Northwestern vs Wellesley

Both Northwestern and Wellesley strive to create diverse and inclusive communities on their campuses. Northwestern has a relatively diverse student body, with around 44% of students identifying as students of color. Wellesley has a slightly less diverse student body, with around 35% of students identifying as students of color.

However, it is important to note that diversity goes beyond just racial and ethnic identity. Northwestern has a higher percentage of international students, with around 10% of the student body coming from outside the United States. In comparison, Wellesley has a lower percentage of international students, with only around 6% of the student body coming from outside the United States.

Additionally, both schools have made efforts to increase diversity in other ways. Northwestern has implemented programs to increase socioeconomic diversity, such as the Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools, which provides academic support and college preparation for low-income students. Wellesley has also implemented programs to increase diversity, such as the Davis Degree Program, which provides a full scholarship for non-traditional students who are the first in their families to attend college.

Student Support Services: Northwestern vs Wellesley

Both Northwestern and Wellesley offer a range of student support services, including mental health counseling, academic advising, and disability services. Northwestern also offers a robust student health center with a range of services, including primary care and mental health services.

Additionally, both universities have career centers that provide students with resources and guidance for finding internships and job opportunities. Wellesley’s career center also offers workshops and events to help students develop professional skills and network with alumni. Northwestern’s career center has a strong focus on connecting students with employers in various industries and offers services such as resume reviews and mock interviews.

Furthermore, both universities have programs and resources dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. Northwestern has a Multicultural Student Affairs office that provides support and advocacy for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and other marginalized groups. Wellesley has a Center for Diversity and Inclusion that offers programming and resources to promote understanding and respect for diverse identities and experiences.

Campus Safety: Northwestern vs Wellesley

Both Northwestern and Wellesley prioritize the safety and security of their students. Both campuses have 24-hour security personnel and employ a variety of safety measures, such as emergency blue lights and security cameras. Northwestern also offers a campus escort service for students who feel unsafe walking around campus at night.

Group of students looking at a laptop in a table.

In addition to these measures, both Northwestern and Wellesley have implemented new safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes mandatory mask-wearing, increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas, and social distancing guidelines in classrooms and common areas. Both campuses also offer COVID-19 testing and contact tracing for students and staff. These measures are in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone on campus during these challenging times.

Social Life on Campus: Northwestern vs Wellesley

As previously mentioned, Northwestern has a lively social scene, with plenty of Greek Life and partying opportunities for students who are interested. Wellesley, on the other hand, has a more low-key social scene, which may be appealing to some students who prefer a quieter campus culture. That being said, Wellesley does have a number of traditions and events that help bring the community together and foster a strong sense of school spirit.

One of the most popular events at Wellesley is the annual hoop rolling competition, where seniors race down Tupelo Lane pushing a hoop with a stick. This tradition dates back to the early 1900s and is a beloved part of the school’s history.

Additionally, Wellesley has a strong focus on community service and social justice, with many student organizations dedicated to these causes. This provides students with opportunities to get involved in meaningful work outside of the classroom and make a positive impact on the world.

At Northwestern, students can also get involved in a variety of extracurricular activities beyond Greek Life and partying. The school has a thriving arts scene, with numerous student-run theater productions, music groups, and art exhibitions throughout the year.

Additionally, Northwestern is home to a number of research centers and institutes, providing students with opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research and gain valuable experience in their field of study. Overall, both schools offer a rich and diverse range of opportunities for students to get involved and make the most of their college experience.

Prospective Student’s Guide to choosing between these two universities

If you’re trying to decide between Northwestern and Wellesley, there are a few key factors to consider. First and foremost, think about what kind of campus culture you’re looking for. If you’re interested in a lively social scene and a wide range of academic programs, Northwestern might be the right choice. If you’d prefer a smaller, more close-knit community, and a strong focus on the liberal arts, Wellesley could be a better fit. Additionally, consider your academic interests and career goals, as each school offers different programs and resources.

Another important factor to consider is location. Northwestern is located in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb just north of Chicago. This means that students have easy access to all the cultural and social opportunities that a major city like Chicago has to offer. On the other hand, Wellesley is located in a suburban area outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

While Boston is still easily accessible, it may not offer the same level of convenience as Northwestern’s location near Chicago. It’s important to think about what kind of environment you want to be in and what kind of opportunities you want to have outside of campus.

Final thoughts: Which university is the best fit for you?

Ultimately, the decision between Northwestern and Wellesley will come down to individual factors such as personal preference, academic interests, and career goals. Both schools are highly respected institutions with a lot to offer, and each can provide a unique and rewarding college experience. It’s important to do your own research and consider what matters most to you when making this important decision.

Students walking in the walkways of a campus.

One important factor to consider when choosing between Northwestern and Wellesley is location. Northwestern is located in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, while Wellesley is located in a suburban area outside of Boston. If you have a preference for a certain city or region, this could be a deciding factor in your decision.

Another factor to consider is the size and culture of each school. Northwestern is a larger university with a diverse student body and a strong focus on research. Wellesley, on the other hand, is a smaller, women’s college with a tight-knit community and a focus on liberal arts education. Think about what type of environment you thrive in and which school’s culture aligns best with your values and goals.

If you’re set on getting into a world-class college but aren’t sure how to make it happen, we can help! AdmissionSight is a leading college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get into the schools of their dreams.

At AdmissionSight, we focus on offering a wide range of services, all aimed at helping students perfect their applications to catch the attention of admissions officers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about what we offer.

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