Disciplinary History

Wesleyan University is committed to an application process that treats everyone—including those who have a disciplinary record at their school or schools, as well as those who have a history in the judicial system—with the opportunity to be considered as individuals who have learned from their life experiences.

At Wesleyan, we believe in second chances. We are sensitive to the deep concerns many have about the fairness of our justice system and whether it equitably serves all members of our society. We know that higher education can be an important engine of social and economic mobility. Additionally, higher education can enable individuals to make positive contributions to society.

Wesleyan University uses the Common Application and the application for the Coalition for College Access, along with the QuestBridge application as a function of our long-standing partnership.

In our commitment to honoring each person’s potential, we will no longer take into account any answer to broad questions about past criminal or disciplinary offenses. Instead, in the absence of clear, objective studies about the predictive value of such questions, Wesleyan has substituted its own narrower questions about convictions or disciplinary actions in the Wesleyan-specific part of the application.

We believe these narrower questions strike a better balance between giving people a second chance through higher education and providing the University with information that may have an impact on our community. Answering “yes” to these questions is not an automatic bar to admission: Admission officers won’t see an applicant’s answers to these questions until the preliminary assessment of the application—based on academic merit—indicates that the applicant’s candidacy will receive further consideration.

We review all candidates for admission holistically. While academic qualifications are the primary consideration in this evaluation process, our individual assessments also include analysis of each applicant’s extracurricular accomplishments, work experience, letters of recommendation, essays, personal characteristics, talents, and life experiences.

Our Admission Process

In keeping with our commitment to treating those with a disciplinary or judicial-system history with dignity and respect, Wesleyan’s policy beginning with the 2018-19 admissions cycle (for admission in fall 2019) will be:

  • To ignore the questions on the universal section of the Common App or other applications: Wesleyan will ignore any answers that applicants provide to the questions in the main section of the Common Application regarding criminal and disciplinary history because we believe them to be too broad. Instead, we ask two more sharply focused questions that we think are more relevant to the issues of living in a learning community on a residential campus.
  • First reading without information about disciplinary history: All applications for traditional undergraduate admission are initially reviewed by admission officers without knowledge of whether students have “checked the box” in the section of the application indicating a criminal or disciplinary history.
  • Second Review: Applications that receive a positive first review and are deemed competitive for admission will move forward in the evaluation process. At this time, the applications of those who indicated either disciplinary or criminal history—or both—will be studied to fairly assess whether a past offense does or does not indicate their readiness to join the Wesleyan community of learners. The admission officers will be particularly interested in the individual’s ability to frame the past incidents in context, as well as provide a perspective indicating emotional growth and willingness to engage in self-reflection.

Ours is a highly selective, competitive process and, in the spirit of holistic review, there is no formula or any single number, grade, test score, or experience that guarantees admission. All candidates are expected to help the admission committee learn their personal narratives, the context in which they have been living and learning, along with an understanding of what each might contribute to the Wesleyan community.