Diversity Initiatives

graduating seniors wave checkered flags to welcome Lulu Chow Wang

Office of Admission: Diversity Initiatives

Diversity and inclusion are a way of life at Wellesley—an opportunity to explore, learn, grow, and connect. The College is recognized for its longstanding commitment of recruiting and enrolling a diverse group of students. Once here, Wellesley encourages students to try on new ideas, try out new courses of action, and interact authentically with others whose beliefs or choices challenge their own.. 

Take a look at Wellesley's diverse community and the ways in which the Office of Admission works, as well as partners with community organizations, to recruit and enroll an outstanding and diverse cohort of students each year. 

Wellesley's Diverse Community

  • Geographic Diversity: Wellesley students come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Military Post Office. Students hailed from 87 countries of citizenship and 59 countries of residence from all over the globe. At least one language other than English is spoken in 43% of students' homes. 
  • Racial and Ethnic Diversity:  Students self identify as follows: Less than 1% American Indian or Alaskan Native; 23% Asian; 6% Black or African American; 11% Hispanic of any race; 40% White; 6% two or more races; 4% unknown/not reported.
  • Socioeconomic Diversity: Wellesley's need-blind admission policy and generous need-based financial aid provides access for students from families with modest financial resources. Nearly 60% of our students receive aid and the average annual scholarship (that does not need to be repaid) is $47,000. 
  • First Generation Students: 17% of students will be the first generation in their families to graduate from college (defined as neither parent having a post-secondary school degree).

Diversity and Recruitment Team Outreach

The Diversity and Recruitment team is committed to recruiting and enrolling students of color and other underrepresented students. In addition to organizing and implementing travel grant/fly-in programs, the team focuses on additional strategies and outreach efforts:

Connecting with current Wellesley students who are traditionally underrepresented at selective colleges; encouraging them to participate in admission recruitment initiatives, maintain communications with student cultural clubs, assist with overnight programs.

Maintaining close contact with student organizations through targeted outreach to multicultural and other identity group clubs, fostering a strong relationship between the Admission Office and current students.

Work with cultural advisors, including multicultural groups and other identity groups.

 Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

The College president, Office of Admission dean, and Office of Admission director share their enthusiasm and commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion—as well as retention:

students take a selfie with President Johnson

President Johnson considers the creation of a diverse, inclusive community through recruitment to be the first step, followed by a commitment to retention: "And retention requires ensuring that there's an inclusive community, requiring that there's the ability for those from different backgrounds and identities to take advantage of what an academic environment can provide, and ensuring that their mentoring and sponsorship is solid. We have to work to make sure that our students can take advantage of a rich environment like Wellesley...making sure that there is equity in how we enable our students to experience Wellesley."

—Paula A. Johnson, President of Wellesley College


Joy St. John

"A diversity of viewpoints and life experiences produces better outcomes not only in the classroom, but also well into adulthood...Diversity enhances the academic and life experience for every student and graduate and for society overall." 

—Joy St. John, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

The above quote appeared in The New York Times

Full letter and context


Commitment to Affordability

Wellesley's admission process is need-blind for U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents. That is, we don't consider a student's financial situation when we consider her application. We admit terrific people, and then we make sure Wellesley is possible for them. We meet 100 percent of our students’ calculated need; students pay only what they can afford—nothing more. (Get an early indication of how true this is by using Wellesley's Quick College Cost Estimator.) Learn more about financial aid on the Student Financial Services website.

In addition, it's free to apply to Wellesley. We do not charge an application fee when you apply through the Common Application or Coalition Application. If you face financial challenges in meeting Wellesley's standardized testing requirements, you can reach out to the Office of Admission for guidance in submitting your application. In some instances, the Office of Admission may be able to waive a standardized testing requirement due to financial hardship. We also offer enrollment deposit waivers for students who qualify.

Letter to The New York Times Editor from Joy St. John, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid published in The New York Times, June 24, 2016, in reference to the Fisher v University of Texas decision regarding race as a factor in college admission.

To the Editor:

The Fisher v. University of Texas decision (“Justices Uphold Race-Aware Admissions,”) front page, June 24) acknowledges the possible need for colleges to consider race, along with many other factors, in helping enroll talented students from diverse backgrounds.

The goal is more than altruistic. A diversity of viewpoints and life experiences produces better outcomes not only in the classroom, but also well into adulthood.

Multiple studies conclude that multiracial classrooms positively affect cognitive and personal development and sharpen critical thinking — for example, making students more likely to challenge stereotypes. Even employers report that the greater exposure students have to people different from themselves, the better they navigate the professional world.

The court’s decision affirms what colleges like Wellesley have long known—that diversity enhances the academic and life experience for every student and graduate and for society over all.

Joy St. John
Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Wellesley College