Yao '17 appreciates flexibility, community at Carleton

Big or small? Wanchen Yao '17 found her answer to the college search process during a campus visit.

Lauren Kempton '18 Aug. 11, 2017

Wanchen Yao '17Wanchen Yao '17

Wanchen Yao ’17 (Windsor, Ontario) admits that she “didn’t really have a clue what I was going for” when she began applying to colleges.

She looked in the United States and Canada. Large public state schools and private liberal arts colleges. Everything was on the table.

For Yao, it took visiting Carleton for Accepted Student Days to make her feel like she could see herself thriving on campus.

"There were a lot of events that Carleton hosted for students like me. I went to the OIIL accepted student dinner, which they held not just for international students but also domestic people of color, or anyone interested in international and intercultural life at Carleton,” she says. “That was fun, and I got to meet some of the people who are now my close friends. I was just really star struck by the campus and how friendly everyone was.”

Yao says she also became aware of other good things about Carleton that she hadn’t initially considered. For example, class variety—a major component of liberal arts learning—that her friends back home couldn’t take advantage of.

“When you apply to college in Canada, you generally have to apply to a specific major or program. That makes it really hard to switch out, especially to something that’s completely different,” says Yao, who is majoring in economics and computer science. After she graduates, she will be working as an associate software consultant for ThoughtWorks, a global technology company with a social justice bent.

“At Carleton there’s so much flexibility.”

It may have seemed daunting at the time, but the huge decision of where to attend college ultimately narrowed for Yao. She’s glad to have discovered that good things definitely come in small packages.

“The size of the school actually ended up being pretty important. There’s no school that I know of in Canada that’s under 5,000 students,” Yao says.

“I’m glad that Carleton is a smaller college. International students have a really tight community here, where we’re connected not only with other current students, but also with staff and alumni.”