Roberts Wesleyan College (visited 10/20/15)
I decided to swing by Roberts because I had a couple hours to kill before flying out of the Rochester airport. It’s a very pretty, traditional-looking campus. There were only a few people walking around, and at first, mostly adults. We did finally see some students walking around campus; when we asked people if campus was usually this quiet, they looked a bit like they had never noticed, and said that they thought that classes were probably in session so there weren’t likely to see too many people.
Although this is very close to Rochester (probably 15-20 minutes into downtown), the campus definitely has a rural feel. There isn’t much in easy walking distance, but students can have cars on campus. I stopped and talked to a couple students around campus (often the best way to get the unfiltered view since they aren’t working for admissions!). One student said that the thing she doesn’t like is that there’s not much to do on the weekends, but most students do stick around campus. There’s a $1 theater and laser tag nearby and sometimes people will go into Rochester, although she wasn’t sure if the school offered shuttles: “My roommate has a car so I haven’t paid attention.”
The first student I spoke to was a freshman. “I’d rate the school an 8.” She loves the faculty who she says are friendly and really willing to engage with students. This seemed to be true. I talked with two adults who were both talkative and willing to reach out to people. The first asked us if she could help us find anything and then helped us get to the admissions office; the other was a music professor. She walked with us across campus and chatted: she’d been at the school more than 20 years and loved the changes that were happening. “You wouldn’t recognize it! There’s been a lot of additions and improvements.”
Music is fairly big here. In the few minutes I spent talking to a student outside one of their major music and theater buildings, students walked by carrying French Horns, trombones, violins, and more. The music professor said that there are between 60-90 students in the department each year, and they’ve just started an honors chorus and honors band. The old theater building (now practice rooms, offices, classrooms, etc) is supposedly haunted; it had belonged to Mr. Roberts who donated the land to start the school. His funeral was held there.
The school offers fairly standard liberal arts major offerings. Unusual ones include Economic Crime Investigation, Social Work, and Medical Technologist. They offer a 3-2 Engineering program with RIT, RPI, and Clarkson, as well as accelerated 3-year programs in Psychology and Social Work.
Advice one student gave to pass onto students thinking about Roberts is, “Make sure they’re ok with the chapel requirement.” Students have to earn 22 chapel credits each semester (attendance at 1 chapel = 1 credit). Monday is a more traditional, non-denominational service; Wednesday tends to be student-led services or programs; Friday is a discussion session. Students can earn 3 chapel credits if they participate in one of the community service projects on Saturdays.