AGNES SCOTT COLLEGE (visited 3/6/13)
I was excited about visiting Agnes Scott because my cousin graduated from here. AS did not disappoint. The college sits on a beautiful campus with lots of brick and open green space, about ten minutes away from downtown on the MARTA. It’s so nice, in fact, that 30 movies have been filmed on campus, including The Blind Side.
Agnes Scott is a school for go-getters. They’re looking for women who will get engaged on campus, both in and out of the classroom. Our tour guide told us that a Morehouse student once told her that Agnes Scott women have the reputation for “being smart and playing hard.” From what I saw, this held true.
Academics are amazing here. Students get involved from the very beginning, and what students end up doing – both as undergrads at AS and as graduates after they leave – is incredible. The astrophysics professor recently got a grant from the NSA and put six students, including two first year students, on the project. Agnes Scott ranks in the top 6% of PhD earners since the 1920s. The Economics Department is 2nd in the country for producing PhDs. Last year, TWO students were awarded Goldwaters – Georgia Tech only had 1! Students are getting high-profile internships such as with the CDC and big governmental agencies as well as major corporations. Students can enroll in joint MPA and MBA classes as undergrads, or enroll in a Dual Degree (3-2) program for Computer Science (with Emory), Engineering (with Ga Tech) or Nursing (with Emory). Additionally, the ARCHE (Atlanta Region Consortium of Higher Education) program is open to the students so they can cross-register at Emory, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Spelman, Morehouse, and many others. Shuttles run every 10 minutes.
Students seem really happy here. We talked to several on the student panel and more during lunch, but beyond that, the campus was humming with activity. The students were outside, even though it wasn’t the nicest of days, and they were interacting with each other. I didn’t see too many people using iPods between classes; instead, they were talking to each other. It felt comfortable on campus. I asked the tour guide if she knew people who transferred out of AS; she said there were a couple people during the first year that she knew. People who leave, she said, tend to get here and decide it’s either too small or that a women’s college isn’t for them. However, with all the resources in Atlanta, even those issues don’t seem like a big deal. The students tend to socialize with students from other campuses, particularly Georgia Tech. The tour guide said that people assume that they would go to Emory more because it’s right around the corner, but they go there less so than some other campuses.
Princeton Review has ranked AS #8 in the country for Quality of Life. Ninety-two percent of students live on campus, helping to create a great community feel (and they have no Greek Life – students say that they have enough community without it). The school has a ton of traditions such as Pancake Jam (professors make pancakes at midnight during finals week), HubSing (students and alum get together in the Hub to sing school songs), being able to ring the bell in the bell tower as a senior when they get a job or grad school offer, or being thrown into the pond for engagements. The biggest thing, though, is the Sophomore Ring. In the fall of sophomore year, the students are given rings with a black stone and the seal, and they can get it engraved with their year and degree. Apparently they wear it “facing them” while they’re a student, and at graduation, they turn it around to “Face the world.”
A couple things that students really seem to like about campus are that the gym facilities are improving (they just built a new facility) and that finals are self-scheduled. The students work on the honor system, so they can take the finals in any order they want, wherever they want, and at any time during finals week. The food also ranks highly here. We got to eat lunch in the dining hall on the most popular meal-day of the week: fried chicken and mac&cheese. People from the community also come to eat there, so there were middle school students, business people, and others in the dining hall. Our tour guide said that students rush over after class because the line can get long – and she wasn’t exaggerating! The only thing that the tour guide said that she would like to improve on campus was the strength of the wi-fi in some areas. She lives in an older building on one of the floors above the admissions department, and she said that the signal strength up there isn’t great.