Wesleyan University

Middletown, CT: Hidden in the wooded hills of central Connecticut is the sleepy hamlet of Middletown. Just south of Hartford, it looks like any other small New England town, and Wesleyan University looks like a typical New England college. Sitting atop a hill, its red brick, ivy-covered buildings create a picturesque collegiate atmosphere.

What sets Wesleyan apart from every other small liberal arts college, however, is its student body. Wesleyan students are known for their uniqueness and independence. In fact, in the ’90s some convinced a reporter from the New York Times that they lived in a “nudist dorm.”

While their football team leaves something to be desired, Wesleyan students proudly boast about their inner-tube water polo team and other sports you won’t see on ESPN. Over the years this independence has manifested itself in different ways. Last year, for example, while protesting the students’ role in budget talks, Wesleyan students surrounded the president’s office and demanded attention. Although the situation was eventually diffused, this clearly shows their occasionally overzealous spirit.

On my tour, I was surprised to learn about the school’s strong film program. Several buildings are devoted to their film department and house the archives of notables including Martin Scorcese and Ingmar Bergman. The week after my visit, alumnus Joss Whedon (creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) was coming to the school for a screening of his new film.

Overall, the campus was spectacular. From its classic college look to its renovated library and science facility, it is what you’d expect from such a selective college. The dorms were nothing special, and some seemed cramped, but the school does own several “themed” houses. The meal plan is somewhat restrictive, but students I spoke to didn’t seem to mind.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to Wesleyan is its location. Middletown seemed awfully subdued, and this suspicion seemed confirmed when my student guide was a bit too excited about the sledding hill on campus. Parties also do not seem abundant at Wesleyan as the students prefer theater, concerts and events that Wesleyan and school groups offer. Beyond that, there seems little to complain about.

This is one of the most beautiful schools I’ve seen and is renowned for the education it offers. The students I talked to were friendly, open and, in true Wesleyan fashion, unique. See more at: wesleyan.edu