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Wellesley exchange still thrives in third decade


By William Singhose

As the Wellesley-MIT Exchange Program enters its third decade, it continues to give students academic and social variety.

Although the number of students participating in the exchange is down from peak years, the program still receives high marks from students and administrators.

Exact figures are not available on the number of students cross registering between Wellesley and MIT this term, but preliminary lists show that approximately 50 MIT students will travel Route 16 to the Wellesley campus, while about 120 Wellesley students will take courses at MIT. Another 50 students have registered for Wellesley courses taught on the MIT campus, according to MIT's Exchange Office.

A variety of reasons

for cross registration

MIT students give a variety of reasons for their decision to cross register. Some male students admit that they register at Wellesley to meet women, but they seem to be in the minority. Many just wanted to get away from Cambridge for a while or take an interesting class not offered at MIT.

In an informal survey of students in the exchange program, most MIT students said they viewed Wellesley as a refreshing change from their workload at the Institute. Classes at Wellesley are generally smaller than those at MIT, giving students a better chance to participate.

"It's a pretty friendly environment," says Greg Richardson, an MIT junior studying Chinese at Wellesley, "and you can talk directly with the professor."

Small classes are not the only advantage to taking courses at Wellesley.

Paul Tempest '92, who is taking an English class, says he enjoys his Wellesley course because the class discussion brings out the feminist viewpoint on the reading. While Tempest sees this as an academic advantage, he adds: "It's kind of scary. If you say one wrong thing about feminism, they might maim you."

Some MIT students feel awkward during their first few weeks at Wellesley. Steve Derezinski '90 took Introduction to Religion last spring. "It was strange at first," says Derezinski, "but after a while they learned to ignore me."

A few students are taking classes in Wellesley's education program so that they can become certified teachers. One electrical engineering student is taking courses at Wellesley to complete a double major in English.

A broadening experience

Administrators at both MIT and Wellesley see the program as beneficial because it broadens the students' educational experience.

Mary Z. Enterline, the MIT coordinator of the exchange program, says, "They can see and participate in another type of education without going abroad [or transferring]."

The Wellesley coordinator, Dawn Monmouth, believes there are many advantages for Wellesley students who register at MIT. "It gives the experience of a large co-ed institution," she says, ". . . and it gives the advantages of Boston."

The variety of courses that MIT students take at Wellesley is as great as the reasons they give for cross registering, but there are a few topics that perennially attract students. Religion, foreign languages, art history, philosophy, and psychology top the list.

On the other hand, Wellesley students who register at MIT usually take classes in architecture, cognitive science, management, and the humanities. MIT's architecture courses are popular because they can be used to satisfy requirements for an architecture degree at Wellesley.