Needham’s Olin College and Wellesley College Offer Best Bang For Your Buck

Olin College - Snow & Sunset
Olin College of Engineering                                    Image by Tostie14 Flickr

How do you determine the value of an education?

Not an easy question to tackle, the Princeton Review in combination with USA Today, has released their assessment of the top 50 private educational institutions and top 50 public colleges and universities determined to offer “high quality academics at a reasonable price.

Taking into account a  number of variables and statistical analysis, the list cuts a wide swath in its conclusions.

Massachusetts is represented by a total of 6 institutions, including 2 colleges at different points of the educational spectrum:  the venerable Ivy League –  Wellesley College, and a heady “thought leader” heralded for its innovative and dynamic curriculum – pioneering Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering!

And both of them are located virtually in our backyard!


By design, the school is set up to quickly incorporate the very latest innovations in math, engineering, and science into the curriculum. The school is adept at transforming student suggestions into classroom activity, with student-designed projects and problems constantly introduced as part of the curriculum. The generally awesome professors know students by name, and they enjoy teaching. This is exceedingly rare for a tech-heavy school. The focus here is on entrepreneurial business, engineering, and science, but arts, humanities, and social science courses are also required. Students may supplement the curriculum by taking classes at nearby Brandeis, Babson, and Wellesley.

…Olin’s frighteningly smart student population enjoys scrumptious feasts in their dining hall and sleep in luxurious residence halls. They tend toward the nerdy side. They are a small, tight group, as they need to be, given the number of projects on which they must cooperate. Olin’s tough workload leaves little time for fun. You need to be something of a workaholic to succeed here, and the party scene is pretty much nonexistent. Nevertheless, most students manage to squeeze in the occasional night out in Boston.

Students here are generally the kind of ultra-talented mathematical prodigies who have the grades and test scores to go to college pretty much wherever they want. Why, then, would they choose this place over powerhouses like, say, MIT and Cal Tech? Well, it’s easy: Olin gives every admitted student a half-tuition scholarship for four years. In addition to the free money, Olin has abundant financial aid resources and it is able to meet the full demonstrated need of families seeking financial aid. It’s also worth noting that any additional scholarship money or grant money Olin gives you (or that you can come up with yourself) will not cut into the half-tuition scholarship that Olin provides.


All-female Wellesley College is an elite school located just outside Boston that boasts small classes, an amazing, highly accessible, and well-connected faculty, a slew of undergraduate research opportunities, and one of the best overall undergraduate experiences in the country. The classroom environment is very rigorous, and professors have lofty expectations. Students spend a tremendous amount of time reading and writing papers. Spending part of junior year abroad is a staple of a Wellesley education. Internships around the country and abroad are common, too (and Wellesley provides $3,000 stipends for about 300 students each year). When they get their diplomas, Wellesley graduates are able to take advantage of a tenaciously loyal network of highly successful alumnae to jump-start their careers.

Wellesley’s close-knit student population collectively spends large segments of its weekdays in stressed-out study mode. Students don’t spend all of their weekdays this way, though, because there is a ton of extracurricular activities available on this beautiful, state-of-the-art campus. Wellesley is home to more than 150 student organizations. Lectures, performances, and cultural events are endless. Also, the student population here is very close-knit. On the weekends, many students head to Boston to hit the bars or to parties on nearby campuses.

Wellesley College is rolling in riches. The endowment here is worth close to $1.6 billion, and financial aid policies are among the most generous in the country. Admission is completely need-blind. If you get admitted (no easy task), Wellesley will meet 100 percent of your demonstrated financial need.

The Princeton Review, Presented by USA TODAY

For the full story:

Best Value Colleges for 2010 and how they were chosen –


Best Value Colleges for 2010 and how they were chosen –

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