Frequently Asked Questions

About Wellesley

The Admission Application Process

Understanding the Application Process
1. What classes should I take in high school? 
2. Should I take advanced, accelerated, or honors courses in high school? 
3. What is considered in the admission process?
4. What materials are required to apply?
5. Who will read my application?
6. How does Wellesley consider applications from transgender students?
7. Are individuals assigned female at birth who identify as non-binary eligible for admission?
8. As a transgender student eligible to apply to Wellesley, what should I do if I have questions about preparing or submitting my Common Application Online? 
9. Does Wellesley accept applications from undocumented or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students?
10. Will Wellesley be accepting the Coalition Application in the future?

Standardized Testing
1. Are standardized test scores required? If so, which tests should I take?
2. What if I can't afford the cost of the SAT Subject Tests? Or if it would be a hardship for me to take Subject Tests?
3I understand that SAT tests are being redesigned What will change? (See also section below on 2016 SAT Redesign)
4. When should I take the SATs or ACTs?
5. Are standardized tests an important factor in evaluating candidates?
6. What are the minimum required SAT or ACT scores?
7. What are my "Score Choice" options?
8. What if I submit both SAT and ACT scores? How will these scores be used to evaluate my application?

The 2016 SAT Redesign

1. If I’m applying to Wellesley for the fall of 2017, which test should I take?
2. What is new about the test?
3. Will I be at an advantage or disadvantage if I take the old SAT? The new SAT?
4. What about superscoring?
5. Does Wellesley require or recommend the essay?
6. How are scores used in the Wellesley admissions process?
7. Should I take the ACT instead since the SAT is changing?
8. How can I prepare to do well on these tests?
9. What sources should I use to keep up to date on information about the redesigned test?

Recommendations, Interviews, Decision Plans, Credits
1. Who should write my recommendations?
2. Do I need to have an interview?
3. Should I apply Early Decision?
4. Is it true that applying Early Decision will improve my chances?
5. If I apply Early Decision Round I and I am deferred, can I then apply Early Decision II?
6. If I have college credit already, can I apply it to my academic requirements?
7. Should I send additional material if I am deferred from Early Decision?
8. If I'm accepted to Wellesley, may I defer entering for a year?

Financial Aid Application Process Updates (fall 2016)

1. What are the financial aid application process changes being implemented for students applying for entry in fall 2017?
2. Why are these changes occurring and what are the benefits?
3. What do families need to know?

 

Davis Degree FAQ
International FAQ
QuestBridge FAQ
Transfer FAQ


 

About Wellesley

1. Can you briefly describe Wellesley College?
Wellesley is a private, nonprofit liberal arts college for women located 12 miles west of Boston in Wellesley, Massachusetts.  Considered one of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country, Wellesley has provided a transformative educational experience for women who lead change in our world. Wellesley is an undergraduate institution; students earn a four-year baccalaureate degree (Bachelor of Arts) in one of over 50 majors.  See Wellesley's mission and values. Founded in 1870, it is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. 

2. What is the enrollment? How diverse is Wellesley?
There are 2300 students enrolled at Wellesley. (The retention rate is over 95%.) Wellesley students come from every U.S. state, more than 80 countries, and every social, cultural, and economic circumstance. Wellesley values and celebrates ethnic diversity. Many religions are practiced on campus, many languages spoken, many traditions celebrated; nearly half of Wellesley students are women of color. 

3. What is Wellesley known for?  
Wellesley is known for the excellence of its education (student/faculty ratio of 7:1), the beauty of its setting (a 500-acre residential campus of rolling hills, woodlands, and a lake; spectacular architecture; and considered one of the most beautiful campuses in North America), its gifted faculty (98% of tenured faculty hold a Ph.D. or the highest degree in their field), and the uniqueness of its campus culture.  It's among the most successful institutions in the world at educating women leaders. It's also known for its commitment to affordability. Nearly 60 percent of students receive (need-based)  financial aid.

4. Who are some noted leaders from Wellesley?
Noted leaders include Madeleine Albright '59 and Hillary Rodham Clinton '69, both former U.S. Secretaries of State; Madame Chiang Kai-Shek (Soong May-ling) 1917, former first lady of the Republic of China;  Diane Sawyer '67, television broadcast journalist;  Persis Drell '77, physicist and director emeritus of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Robin Chase '80, cofounder and former CEO of Zipcar; Desiree Rogers '81, CEO of Johnson Publishing, also named one of the 50 most powerful African-American women in business by Black Enterprise; Ophelia Dahl '94, Executive Director, Partners in Health; Pamela Melroy '83, former astronaut/NASA Space Shuttle pilot and commander; Susan L. Wagner '82, business pioneer, founding director of BlackRock (and orchestrating a $13.5 billion deal, creating the world's biggest asset manager).

Understanding the Process

 1. What classes should I take in high school?
Wellesley does not require a fixed plan of secondary school course preparation. However, entering students normally have completed four years of college preparatory studies in secondary school that include training in clear and coherent writing and in interpreting literature; history; training in the principles of mathematics (typically four years); competence in at least one foreign language, ancient or modern (usually four years of study); and experience in at least two laboratory sciences. 

Students planning to concentrate in mathematics, premedical studies, or natural sciences are urged to elect additional courses in mathematics and science in secondary school. Students planning to concentrate in language or literature are urged to study a modern foreign language and Latin or Greek. 

There are often exceptions to the above, and the Board will consider an applicant whose educational background varies from this description. Wellesley's applicant pool has been consistently strong. As a result, not all applicants who are qualified are admitted.

  2. Should I take advanced, accelerated, or honors courses in high school?
If the opportunity is there, take it! Your junior and senior years of high school are important, and you should enroll in the advanced courses available to you. The Board of Admission is interested in seeing how you have chosen to challenge yourself in your high school program. Advanced courses will not only challenge you in high school; they may also help you get ahead in college. One unit of credit will be awarded for a score of 5 on most AP exams. For Math BC, students will earn 2 units of credit for a score of 4 or 5. For Math AB or AB subscores on the Math BC exam, students will earn 1 unit of credit for a score of 4 or 5. In addition, the International Baccalaureate diploma is highly respected and may result in credit.

 3. What is considered in the admission process?
Admission decisions are never based on a single factor. Academic achievement, motivation, and creativity are all important attributes for Wellesley candidates. The Board of Admission will consider the following factors when evaluating your application: high school record; rigor of high school curriculum; extracurricular activities; rank in class; letters of recommendation; application essays; scores from the SAT and two SAT Subject Tests, or scores from ACT with Writing; leadership activities; special talents; and, in some cases, feedback from an interview.

 4. What materials are required to apply?
To apply to Wellesley all first-year applicants must submit the following:

  • Common Application for Wellesley College (including the Wellesley-specific writing supplement)
  • Official high school transcript
  • Letter of recommendation from secondary school counselor or other school official
  • Two letters of recommendation from secondary school teachers who taught, or are teaching, the applicant in an academic subject
  • ​​Standardized test scores:
    Option A- SAT plus two SAT Subject Tests
    Option B- ACT with Writing

 5. Who will read my application?
The Wellesley College Board of Admission reads your application. This group includes faculty, administrators, admission staff, and students. The Board looks for evidence of academic achievement and potential. They also value evidence of unusual talent and a readiness to contribute to one's community.

 6. How does Wellesley consider applications from transgender students?
Wellesley will consider for admission any applicant who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman; therefore, candidates assigned male at birth who identify as women are eligible to apply for admission.  Those assigned female at birth who identify as men are not eligible for consideration for admission.  Steadfast in our commitment to the College's mission of educating women, Wellesley will consider for admission women who are prepared for a rigorous academic environment that challenges them to achieve at their highest potential.

 7. Are individuals assigned female at birth who identify as non-binary eligible for admission?
Yes. Wellesley accepts applications from those who were assigned female at birth and who feel they belong in our community of women. The College provides students with a uniquely empowering learning environment—one designed specifically to prepare women to thrive in a complex world. 

 8. As a transgender student eligible to apply to Wellesley, what should I do if I have questions about submitting my Common Application online?
We encourage students with questions about preparing or submitting their Common Application Online to call the Admission Office and ask to speak with an admission counselor. Counselors are available to provide helpful guidance Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Eastern Time. The phone number for the Admission Office is 781-283-2270.

Please note: The Common Application Online instructs applicants to identify their sex assigned at birth, regardless of their gender identity. If you identify as female and encounter any challenge in submitting your application to Wellesley based on your answer to the sex assigned at birth question, please reach out to the Office of Admission for assistance. Our admission counselors can provide instructions for addressing this issue in the submission of your application.

 9. Does Wellesley accept applications from undocumented or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students?

Wellesley accepts applications from undocumented and DACA students. For financial aid purposes, Wellesley considers undocumented and DACA students as international citizens. Financial assistance is available for a limited number of international citizens, undocumented, and DACA students. Because of the keen competition for these funds, candidates should apply for them only if family resources cannot adequately meet College expenses. 

Wellesley is committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated need for all admitted undocumented and DACA students who apply for financial aid during the admission process. Admitted undocumented and DACA students will receive financial assistance in the form of grant aid. Students will not be expected to borrow (via a student loan) as part of their aid packages. If students are ineligible to work in the United States, students will receive grant aid in place of the typical school year work-study expectation.

If you are an undocumented or DACA student and have questions about applying to Wellesley, please feel free to contact the Admission or Student Financial Services Offices directly at admission@wellesley.edu or sfs@wellesley.edu. You may also reach the Admission Office by phone at 781-283-2270 or the Student Financial Services Office by phone at 781-283-3946.

10. Will Wellesley be accepting the Coalition Application in the future?

Yes. Wellesley is among the diverse coalition of public and private colleges and universities nationwide that in the future will also accept the new Coalition Application as an alternative application option for applicants.  These institutions are coming together with the goal of improving the college admission application process for all students. The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success developed the application as well as a free platform of online tools to streamline the experience of planning for and applying to college and to provide low-income students with better information about high quality, low-cost college options.

The Coalition’s online tools will be launched in early 2016; Wellesley will accept the new Coalition Application as of summer 2017. It will provide an additional application choice at Wellesley; it will not replace the Common Application or the QuestBridge Application. Wellesley will consider all three applications equally in the review process. 

About Standardized Testing

 1. Are standardized test scores required? If so, which tests should I take?
Wellesley requires that you submit the SAT and two SAT Subject Tests or the ACT with Writing.  For students who are pursuing quantitative subjects such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience, etc., we strongly encourage you to take at least one quantitative SAT Subject test. If you take the ACT: Wellesley requires the ACT with Writing Test. The TOEFL is strongly recommended for students whose native language is not English.  See the SAT and ACT websites for test deadlines. See #2 below for information about the redesigned SAT and Wellesley's requirements.

2. What if I can't afford the cost of the SAT Subject Tests? Or if it would be a hardship for me to take Subject Tests?
Students who submit the SAT are required to also submit two SAT Subject Tests. However, students may request a waiver of the Subject Test requirement if the cost of taking the Subject Tests represents a financial hardship or if other circumstances would make taking the Subject Tests a hardship for an applicant. Please contact the Admission Office at admission@wellesley.edu or call 781-283-2270 if you wish to request a Subject Test waiver.  Note: Students who submit the ACT with Writing are not required, or expected, to submit SAT Subject Tests.

 
  3. I understand that SAT tests have been redesigned. What changed? (See also section below on 2016 SAT Redesign)
The College Board launched a redesign of its SAT college admission exams in March 2016 and a redesigned PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 in October 2015.  The purpose of this redesign is to focus on essential skills and knowledge and to make the exams clearer, more open, and more closely aligned with challenging classroom work. Students and teachers will know what is covered on the exam. The College Board says that these exams will be clearer and more open than ever before.
 
Students who take the SAT in March 2016 or later will take the redesigned SAT, which includes Evidence-Based Reading and Writing plus Math. Wellesley does not require the optional Essay.  Students should also take two SAT Subject Tests.  Compare the current and redesigned SAT tests.  See the FAQ section below on the 2016 SAT Redesign.
 

 4. When should I take the SATs or ACTs?
Wellesley recommends that you complete your SAT and/or ACT testing at least one month prior to the application deadline of the college(s) to which you plan to apply. You will feel less rushed—and perhaps more confident—in sitting for these exams if you know you have allowed ample time for your official scores to reach admission offices. Admission offices that require standardized testing typically will not begin to read a student's application until her testing profile is complete.

If you plan to apply as an Early Decision applicant, we strongly recommend that you complete the tests before the end of your junior year or no later than October of your senior year.

Scores should be rushed only if they are released by you to admission officers at the last possible moment. Rushing is a costly option that does not often guarantee a quicker turnaround, and we encourage students to utilize the rush service only in last-minute circumstances.
 

 5. Are standardized test scores an important factor in evaluating candidates?
When you apply to Wellesley College, the Board of Admission—admission professionals, current Wellesley students, and professors—will review your application in its entirety. You will be evaluated on the strength of your high school courses, grades, teacher recommendations, test scores, extracurricular activities, and other information you choose to submit. Readers on the Board of Admission use judgment and sensitivity in evaluating standardized testing.

Standardized testing alone is not a good indicator of a student's ability to succeed at Wellesley. However, when used in conjunction with the high school transcript, these test scores are helpful in providing additional insight into a student's academic readiness for Wellesley.

  6. Are there minimum required SAT or ACT scores?
No, there are no "cut-off" scores.   For the Class of 2018, the mean SAT Critical Reading score was 700; the mean Writing score was  706; the mean Math score was 690; and the mean ACT score was 31. For more statistics on students in the first-year class, see admission statistics.

 7. What are my College Board "Score Choice" options?
Several years ago the College Board instituted Score Choice, a score reporting policy, whereby students can choose which scores to send, either by test date for the SAT or by individual test for the SAT Subject Tests. When you sign up for a standardized test, you have the option of releasing the scores to Wellesley College. Wellesley records and reviews only your top scores from each SAT and SAT Subject or ACT sitting. Wellesley uses only your highest individual test scores to make our final admission decision. Therefore, sending all your scores will not have a negative impact on your application for admission. You may, however, choose to send only the scores from your highest test sittings. The code required to submit scores to Wellesley College is 3957.

8. What if I submit both SAT and ACT scores? How will these scores be used to evaluate my application?

Wellesley evaluates your application based on your “score of record.” The score of record is your highest composite score from either the SAT or the ACT. We use the College Board’s SAT/ACT Concordance Table to determine your highest score. 

 

The 2016 SAT Redesign

As of March 2016, the College Board has launched a redesigned SAT. Below are FAQs regarding Wellesley’s standardized test requirements. For more information about the redesign of the SAT—what they've changed, and why it matters—please visit the College Board website.

 1. If I'm applying to Wellesley for fall of 2017, what test should I take?
Applicants to Wellesley for 2017 or beyond should take the new test, but can also submit scores from the pre-2016 version. Be assured that Wellesley will use scores from either one in a way that ensures equity.  

 2. What is new about the test?
The redesigned SAT will have two 800-point sections instead of three.  Math will still be Math, but components of the Critical Reading section and Writing section will be used to create the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score.  Also, the essay portion will now become optional, and will not be a factor in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.

 3. Will I be at an advantage or disadvantage if I take the old SAT? The new SAT?
No. No matter which test you have taken or will take, Wellesley will consider your “score of record” to be the test with the highest composite score. The College Board provides extensive information regarding "concordances" (how scores from one version translate into the other one). Such information will ensure that neither score is advantaged over the other, even if the numeric scores are slightly different. If you take both the SAT and the ACT, or the old and the new SAT, we will use the concordance table for the old SAT, new SAT, and ACT, and we will consider your score of record to be the test with the highest composite score.

See the SAT Score Converter mobile app and/or online tool to compare scores on the new SAT, the old SAT, and the ACT. 

 4. What about superscoring?
Superscoring, which refers to combining a student's best Critical Reading score from one sitting with her best Math and Writing score from another, is a practice of the Board of Admission at Wellesley.  It does not include the Writing score.  (We will continue to superscore among pre-March sittings, and will also begin superscoring among new SAT (March 2016 and after) sittings.  However, we do not plan to superscore between new and old versions of the test because the scores will not be constructed the same way. Note: we do not superscore the ACT, only the SAT).

In other words, send us all of your test scores and we will evaluate you based on your strongest scores. These become your score of record.

 5. Does Wellesley require or recommend the essay?
Wellesley neither requires nor recommends the SAT essay.  Each institution decides individually whether to require or recommend the SAT essay, so please check with each institution you are considering.

 6. How are scores used in the Wellesley admission process?
We require all U.S. applicants for first-year admission to submit SAT or ACT scores. While these scores are an important part of a complete application, they are not the most important part. SAT or ACT scores allow us to see how well you do in areas fundamental to predicting college readiness, using a third-party tool that is not influenced by something that varies, like your school's grading practices. In that regard, they are helpful.  However, we are aware that tests have their limits, and we place much higher emphasis on your high school work, including the grades you earned and the classes you chose to take.  

 7. Should I take the ACT instead, since the SAT is changing?
No, that's not a reason to take the ACT.  More accurately, it's not a reason to not take the new SAT. We will go to great care to look at concordances. Also, we will continue with our ongoing advice that any applicant can consider either or both tests— there is no evidence that one is easier or more difficult than the other; it can go either way for different students.

 8. How can I prepare to do well on these tests?
We want you to do well on the SAT or ACT; however, it's only one of several factors that we consider in our holistic review.  So do your best, but don't get overly excited if you do well, or overly sad if you don't.  We also see far too many families spend vast sums of money for a test prep class that may or may not improve your scores more than you could have otherwise, on your own or with alternative resources that are lower-cost, or even free. College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to offer free test prep services for the SAT.  

 9. What sources should I use to keep up to date on information about the redesigned test?
If you're a student considering application to the Wellesley, join our mailing list and we will email you with any new and/or relevant information regarding standardized testing. You should connect directly to any other colleges you are considering for the best information about how they'll use the redesigned test. Also, you can continue to check the College Board's website for their latest updates.  

 

Recommendations, Interviews, Decision Plans, Credits

  1. Who should write my recommendations?

Wellesley requires three letters of recommendation: two from teachers of academic subjects and the third from a secondary school counselor or other school official. We encourage you to provide academic recommendations from teachers of two different subjects.

 2. Do I need to have an interview?
Interviews are not required for high school students applying to Wellesley, but they are recommended. An interview is required for accelerated, Davis Scholar, and postbaccalaureate candidates. Read more about on-campus and off-campus interviews before scheduling an interview. Students interested in an on-campus interview can register and schedule an appointment online. Students interested in an off-campus interview should complete the off-campus interview request form, which will be available in September.  

 3. Should I apply Early Decision?
If you have a strong high school record and you're sure Wellesley is the college for you, then you may want to consider applying under one of our Early Decision options—Early Decision Round I (deadline November 1) or our new Early Decision Round II (deadline January 1). However, don't make this decision lightly—entering into an Early Decision agreement is a serious commitment. If you are offered admission to Wellesley under one of our Early Decision plans, you are required to withdraw your applications from other colleges and universities. Keep in mind that you can apply Early Decision to only one institution, so choose carefully. Your financial aid will remain the same regardless of the admission plan under which you apply. See Decision Plans for more information.

 4. Is it true that applying Early Decision will improve my chances?
It is true that a slightly higher percentage of applicants who apply Early Decision get in, but that is not because there are different standards for those applicants. It's simply because Early Decision applicants tend to be a pool of highly qualified students who are certain that Wellesley is a good fit for them — and they are often right. If you are certain that Wellesley is the right choice for you, applying Early Decision will simply allow you to know where you are going to college earlier—around the time of your winter break. See Decision Plans for more information.

5. If I apply Early Decision Round I and I am deferred, can I then apply Early Decision II?
No. If you apply as an Early Decision I candidate and the Board of Admission votes to defer your application, you will then be considered for review in the Regular Decision round. You cannot be considered for review in the Early Decision II round or Early Evaluation.

  6. If I have college credit already, can I apply it to my academic requirements?
If you have college credits that have not been applied toward your high school diploma, you may have these credits evaluated by the Registrar's Office to receive credit toward graduation from Wellesley. It is possible to apply up to 2 units of credit toward your Wellesley degree.

 7. Should I send additional material if I'm deferred?
If you are deferred, sending certain additional materials may be helpful to the College during the next round of the decision-making process. You may want to send us your most up-to-date grades, a list of any recent special honors or awards you have received, or any helpful information you may not have provided with your initial application. An additional recommendation may also be helpful. If you have been deferred and you are not sure exactly what to send, just contact us and we'll help you decide.

 8. If I'm accepted to Wellesley, may I defer entering for a year?
An accepted candidate may request a deferral of entrance to Wellesley for one year. She should accept the offer of admission by May 1, at which time she should also request a year's deferral in writing. A student who attends college full-time between secondary school and Wellesley must reapply as a transfer student.

 

Financial Aid Application Process Updates

1. I understand the financial aid application process is changing for students applying for entry in fall 2017. What are these changes?

This year families will be able to begin completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA, earlier in the academic year—October 1, rather than January 1. This change more closely aligns the financial aid application process with the admission application process.

In order to accommodate this earlier filing schedule, the FAFSA will collect financial data from two years prior to the academic year for which the aid is intended, rather than the previous year. For example, if you’re applying for entry in fall 2017, you will provide financial data for 2015; if you’re applying for entry in fall 2018, you will provide financial data for 2016, etc.

In previous years, when students applied for financial aid, they needed to submit financial data from tax information from the prior year. The timing was awkward and inconvenient, as most people had not yet filed the prior year’s taxes. Some tried to file their taxes early, or they used estimates they had to later correct, or they held off and didn’t apply until later.

2. Why are these changes occurring and what are the benefits?

These changes, which are a result of an Executive Order announced by President Obama on September 14, 2015, will potentially impact thousands of additional aid applications. The process of applying for aid should become much easier and less frustrating because families will have already filed their taxes for the year in question, and they won’t have to worry about estimating their income and correcting it later.

It will also enable many more applicants to take advantage of the IRS’s data-retrieval tool, which they can use to transfer information from their taxes to the FAFSA form. That will reduce the number of questions applicants need to answer.

Those are definite benefits, but it might also enable colleges to send out financial aid awards in a more timely fashion, which would give applicants more time to compare options among multiple schools and make more informed decisions.

3. What do families need to know?

If it’s your first time through the process, nothing will be different. It’s simply how you apply for financial aid. If it’s not your first time, you will see that the data request will be for a tax year already completed, which should be far more convenient for you and enable you to apply without having to wait to complete your current year’s taxes.

The following are some helpful links about Wellesley financial aid, federal student aid:

Wellesley College Student Financial Services,

Federal Student Aid, part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation, provides more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to more than 13 million students.