Wellesley’s campus has a lot to offer in terms of its nature and scenery. Pictures posted on social media and college brochures of the winding paths shaded by looming pine trees, the wide expanses of vibrant lawns, and the glistening sun bouncing off Lake Waban do not do the campus scenery justice. That’s why, for some students, it came as no surprise that Wellesley College was named as having the 19th most beautiful campus in the country by the Travel + Leisure Magazine — the only college in Massachusetts to make the list.
Travel + Leisure described Wellesley’s campus as “another world entirely, with pathways that meander through sprawling meadows, groves of conifers and hardwoods that surround tranquil Lake Waban, and 19th-century brick buildings tucked into the wooded hillsides.”
Sasha Behar ’24 cites the beauty of Wellesley’s campus as a significant factor in her decision to apply.
“I wasn’t sure about applying until I went on a tour, and then I was definitely convinced,” she said.
She remembers falling in love with the gothic style of Wellesley’s older buildings, as well as the bold and modern Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center. While on campus, she appreciated the ability to enjoy the outdoors at all times of the day.
“It was really nice to be able to walk around at night, since campus is super safe,”she said.
Even those who did not visit Wellesley before committing described their excitement for the campus’ offerings. Joelle Garcia ’24 recalls binge-watching YouTube videos uploaded by Wellesley students when the pandemic prevented her from touring in-person.
“I watched as many YouTube videos as possible on Wellesley and its campus because it was the only exposure I had,” she said.
For Garcia, the ability to enjoy a campus brimming with nature and wildlife, while still being in close proximity to Boston, a major metropolitan hub, was a major draw to Wellesley.
“If you want, you can have a beautiful campus that’s super naturesque and with your own space, but Boston is also only 15 minutes away if you want to experience the city.”
In order to facilitate a safe return to Wellesley in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many aspects of campus life were drastically changed. To maintain the Wellesley “bubble” and limit travel outside of campus, many students found themselves more frequently enjoying Wellesley’s outdoor offerings rather than making trips into the city. Abigail Martinage ’24 found opportunities to socialize and study with friends while following health and safety precautions.
“I love Tupelo Point, and went with friends … in the early mornings to study or hang out,” she said.
She also appreciated professors’ creativity in connecting with students by holding office hours outside.
“I had professors who would do office hours outside [of] Founders, and I’d go and eat dinner with my friends sometimes. I’m definitely glad that we had all the outdoor space that we did.”
Even though the restrictions on campus life were not ideal circumstances for most, remote learning posed an even greater challenge for students who complained of its isolating nature. Martinage recalls missing the spontaneous opportunities for interaction with friends and acquaintances while living on campus.
“It’s really nice to be in a shared space where you can bump into people. Over Zoom, you have to be a lot more intentional about socializing,” she said.
Some students who studied remotely missed the independence and sense of freedom associated with living on campus.
“Even though we were limited on what we could do, I still felt like I was going to college [in the fall],” Garcia said. “During the spring semester and being on Zoom, I felt like I was still in high school.”
On Wellesley’s ranking in the Top 20 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the country, Behar, Martinage and Garcia agreed that spot was well-deserved. They anticipate returning to campus in the fall, and look forward to the more relaxed safety protocols.