Okay, so I just spent an hour describing our fabulous last two days and then lost all of the text. So, this will be briefer.
We fell in love with Wesleyan, where Chris Lanser explained that Wesleyan's purpose is to teach their students how to learn, so that they can continue this throughout their life, in any endeavor, which, he stated, is particularly important for a future in which each of them will have 4 completely different careers. A small liberal arts college, they are surprisingly also very well funded in science (the largest federal funding of the small Ivy League schools). The school is a perfect match for the student who is undecided (and most are and probably should be) as to future plans. These students can design their own major, start research early, and really develop a relationship with their professors. Each student also has an advisor who follows him/her throughout the 4 years. Our guide was very involved in film which turns out to be a strong department there, having sent several graduates on to Hollywood. Wesleyan is at the edge of the small town of Middletown and has a ratio of 9:1 students to professors, with a total population of about 2300 undergraduate students. And did I mention that there are no requirements? Each student is free to explore -- although there are some suggestions for breadth.
Then we went to Yale and a very different school. Yale has about 5,000 undergraduates, with the same number of graduate students and is located in the middle of New Haven, CT. The most interesting aspect of Yale is how they create smaller communities within the larger one by assigning each student to a college (there are 12) for his/her entire tenure. Each college has both a dean and a Master. The Master arranges lectures and other events for the students in his/her college. Our guide referred to a lecture they had at his college by Morgan Freeman! There is no question that Yale offers a sterling array of courses and professors, with a 2-week period to "shop" the classes (as does Wesleyan). You can drop into any class at this time and just see how you like it. The ratio of students to professors at Yale is 6:1, with a 3:1 ratio in the sciences and 1:1 ratio in engineering.
And then today we went to Dartmouth. The greatest challenge with Dartmouth is the fact that it is a 4-hour drive from Providence, and we arrived very tired. The information session and the tour were interesting, but none of our "Brownies" seemed overly enthusiastic -- until lunch. Lunch at the Canoe Club with an admissions' officer, an outreach person, and 4 incredibly enthusiastic alums could not have been better. By the end of the lunch, I would bet that many of our "brownies" were interested in applying to Dartmouth. By the way, one of the Dartmouth alums made a very similar -- to Chris Lanser's - statement about learning how to learn at Dartmouth.