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Archive for the tag “women’s college”

St. Mary’s College (IN)

St. Mary’s College, South Bend, IN (visited 11/21/19)

St. Marys pond main bldgSt. Mary’s (South Bend, IN) is a small women’s college clustered in the neighborhood with Notre Dame (which is literally across the street) and Holy Cross (about 2 blocks to the south). Started as the sister school to Notre Dame when they were still all-men, St. Mary’s has held onto their single-gender identity. Unfortunately, they’ve been a bit lost in the shadow of ND as that grew in size and prominence which is too bad; they’re a moderately selective school holding steady with 1,600 students, good retention and decent graduation rates, fairly good geographic diversity (only about ¼ come from Indiana), and strong programs in nursing, communication science/disorders, accounting, and management among others.

St. Marys 1For students worried about attending an all-women’s college – don’t. With Notre Dame and Holy Cross so close, students get the best of both worlds – a small, nurturing, single-gender home base but with access to the large rah-rah feel of an athletic/academic powerhouse. They’ve retained a strong connection to Notre Dame; St. Mary’s students can cross-register for classes at either campus, and they can join clubs and activities (including the Marching Band) at Notre Dame. They can also attend the football (or other) games; tickets run about $330 for the season (the student thinks it might be an all-or-nothing deal unless you can find someone selling single tickets).

St. Marys 6Buildings are beautiful, as is campus. These are mostly made of the same yellow brick as Notre Dame, not surprising since they grew up at the same time. The mud for the bricks is local and was made at the foundry which is serves as Holy Cross’ chapel.

A few programs that are worth noting include:

  • BA/BFA in the Applied Arts and Design, including New Media, design, sculpture, photo media, fibers, Musical Theater, dance, and more
  • St. Marys 2Math/Computer Sciences – including Applied Math (in conjunction usually with Data Science, Computer Science, etc) and Statistical/Actuarial Math
  • Speech Language Pathology
  • Global Studies with concentrations in Anthropology, Economics, Justice and Human Rights, business administration, intercultural studies, and modern European Culture. Students must obtain intermediate proficiency in 1 language and introductory proficiency in a “less commonly taught language” (Arabic or Chinese are offered on campus) to be accepted into the major.
  • Their interdisciplinary programs including film studies, gerontology, justice education, among others.

© 2019

Smith College (Take 2)

Smith College (visited 5/30/19) (Click HERE to see pictures and information from my previous on 10/15/12)

Smith 2“We’re educating women of promise for lives of distinction.”

Smith 10Smith is the only women’s college with an open curriculum. There are no required classes other than 1 writing intensive class and those needed to complete the major. One student said, “It’s not about what you don’t have to take. It’s about exploring the richness of what’s out there and embracing interests.” Students take responsibility for their education, and are intentionally advised to use it intentionally to pull together extra-curricular interests, study abroad, and internships. “When we look at the classes students choose, many of them would have completed a core, but they did it on their own. They’re curious and want to learn. Everyone in the class wants to be there,” said one of the reps. One student said, “My classes definitely aren’t dull here!” Another said, “I feel like I have to bring my A game every day because otherwise I’ll be disappointing my classmates.”

Smith 5

Architecture is eclectic!

Over 40% of Smithies major in STEM fields. However, “we’re strong across the curriculum. We’re the first women’s college, and still 1 of only 2 [the other being Sweet Briar] to establish an accredited engineering program.” A student said that she does not feel like a second class citizen in the engineering classes; she’s definitely developed confidence here.

Smith 9Smith is a member of the active 5-College Consortium, the 2nd oldest in the country after the Claremonts. They share 2000 faculty, 5300 courses, resources. Students can take classes and join clubs. Smith can join UMass Marching Band “which maybe makes up for Smith not having a football team.” Figure skaters can continue skating at UMass. There are some special programs available through the Consortium, including Native American and Indigenous Studies; Culture, Health, and Science; Digital Humanities; and Buddhist Studies. On the Smith campus, they offer some unusual majors like Medieval Studies, Astronomy, Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, and Statistical and Data Science.

Smith house 2

One of the Houses

Students don’t live in dorms but in mixed-year houses ranging in size from 12-100 students (all of which have a piano). It’s a vital part of being at Smith. “It’s often the first information alumni share,” said a rep. “Houses are places to live, not just sleep. They graduate by houses.” Houses are all self-governing and provide another level of leadership development. “Leadership becomes a habit.” They are piloting Affinity Housing for 2019-20. This is a student-driven initiative; there will be one focusing on African-American culture; the other is more generally for students of color (which make up 1/3 of the student population). “This is a PWI. We’re not unlike other campuses in this regard but we’re committed to taking steps for inclusion.”

Smith student center 2

The new student center. All new construction is built based on the architecture of the time it was built

They are also working hard to shift how we talk about women’s colleges. “They’re still relevant. We talk about them in terms of what they don’t have or what they’re not. Let’s address that.” She went on to talk about a lot of the myths or “problems” that they hear about women’s colleges:

  • It’s not the real world… “Like Harvard is the real world??”
  • There’s no male perspective … “The whole world is the male perspective.”
  • There’s no fun … “They can still do what they want. The beer-drinking frat party is around. You just have to take a bus to it!”
  • Who wants the drama of all girls!/It’s all lesbians … “We don’t engage with the lesbian thing. Get over it.”
Smith botanical 1

Part of the campus botanical gardens

Here’s really want women’s colleges are:

  • Intentional communities where women are at the center.
  • Not equal opportunity but EVERY opportunity.
  • Lead from ahead and push from behind. “We surround them with bold people who can encourage them to be bolder.”
  • Empowerment is not having to compromise any part of who you are. You can choose to go – or NOT go – to UMass. You don’t have to apologize for being smart. You’re expected to hold your own. You don’t have to apologize for having a point of view.

Smith 6Smith provides extensive research opportunities. About 1/3 of faculty-published research has student co-authors. Praxis provides a $3000 stipend to all students for internships. Students have worked everywhere from a California cricket farm, ABC in London, with a doula in a maternity hospital in Mexico, and the Smithsonian in DC.

Smith 12Admissions is test-optional except for international citizens who must submit test scores. If the scores are reported (self-reported on the application or sent officially), they will consider it. However, it’s weighted “very low in the process. It’s one piece of information. If you think they reflect you as a student, send it – but there’s no red flag if scores aren’t there.”

© 2019

 

Bay Path University

Bay Path University (visited 5/28/19)

BPC main sign 2Bay Path is a small, pretty women’s college with some amazing academic programs. I learned from the tour guide that most of the sculptures (mostly by local artists) diplayed around campus were purchased by the President’s husband to donate to the college.

BPC sculpture 2Bay Path operates its traditional residential campus in Longmeadow, just outside of Springfield. Under this umbrella is the American Women’s College, an online, bachelors-granting college for adult women (although they offer a few hybrid classes that will meet occasionally on Saturday, as well). Many of the graduate programs (such as Education, Psych, and health sciences) are held on the Health Science Center campus in East Longmeadow, about 4 miles from main campus, allowing this campus to retain much of an undergraduate, traditional feel.

BPC sculpture 4The admissions building is a converted house with welcoming spaces used by current and perspective students. The President will hold dinners in one of the larger rooms as well as at her house (located by the athletic center), and all students get invited during their time on campus. “She’s very visible. We definitely can voice opinions,” said my tour guide.

BPC 5“Students who want to be a number will not do well here. They won’t make it,” said the rep. Bay Path works well with first-gen students. They recognize and work with several barriers, including cultural and financial. “Sometimes they’re not allowed to separate quite so well.” They offer Finish Line scholarships to help students persist through to graduation. “ If they’re willing to come take a chance, they’ll do great here.”

BPC 3All freshmen are housed in the same dorm; upperclassmen have a chose of 2 other buildings. The tour guide took me into Theinert, the Freshmen dorm. “Rooms are a little smaller here than the others,” she said, but I thought they were decent sizes for doubles. Campus food is an 8. “I’d like more variety especially on weekends. Lots of people go home so there’s less choice then.” She stays on campus because she plays lacrosse. “There’s definitely more going on around campus in the fall.” Residents pay a parking fee but commuters do not. Freshman can have cars on a space-available basis and there are community bikes available.

BPC Commons

The Commons

The university has been working to increase the number of weekend activities as well as participation. They’ve instituted Destination Saturdays, offering local and seasonal trips like apple picking, sledding, goat yoga, ice skating, and Celtics or Bruins games. There are free shuttles to local stores and attractions and students get discounted movie tickets. The closest theaters are in West Springfield or Enfield (20 minutes away).

A few traditions that the tour guide particularly liked include:

  • Campus Awakenings, an event held before dawn on the first day of school. “It’s kind of a way for seniors and faculty to welcome freshmen.”
  • Wacky Wildcats (like Field Day)
  • Curtain Call at the end of the year (kind of the opposite of Awakening)

BPC labNot surprisingly for a school this size, (a little under 1900 students), 80% of classes have fewer than 20 students. My tour guide’s smallest class (a Women in STEM Honors class) had 6 students in it. My tour guide and the rep shared a lot of great academic information with me:

  • Cybersecurity is a newer program with tracks in Digital Forensics and Information Assurance. Bay Path has been selected as 1 of 5 partner school with GOOGLE!
  • All students get iPads.
  • They offer 5 tracks within Forensics including Forensic Psych and Forensic Science. A Forensic Anthropologist from the Medical Examiner’s office and a Special Prosecutor for the FBI teaches here. This was one of the first programs in the area in the area, so they have great outcomes for students. They have a genome sequencing machine on campus, the same as used in the Massachusetts Crime Lab. They also have a ballistics lab.
  • BPC forensicsThey offer a 5-year OT program
  • The Business Program offers 12 specializations, although some like Strategic HR Management, Digital Marketing Management, and Food Industry Management are only offered online.
  • Interior Design: Commercial and Residential majors designed one of the academic buildings.
  • BPC learning commons int

    Part of the Learning Commons

    The Learning Commons has a law floor and an early childhood education floor. This doubles as a community library.

  • An American History class offered every year examines a time or place during the fall semester, then they tour the place in January (this year, they went to Savannah and Charleston). The trips aren’t that expensive, but can also apply for travel scholarship to offset costs. “Students can take it every year and have a different experience.” They save seats for first-year students.
  • “Things are pretty hands-on here,” said the tour guide. In her First Year Seminar, took Monster Madness, “We put Dracula on trial.”
  • WELL (Women as Empowered Leaders and Learners) is built into the core classes; students take several classes around different growth, learning, and leadership themes. The First-Year Read is incorporated into these classes, and there’s a Residential programming component as well.

BPC loungeBay Path participates in the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield Consortium with Elms, American International College, Springfield, Westfield State, WNEU, and the Community College. They don’t have shuttles, but most campuses are relatively close and are on bus lines. Students can take up to 2 classes per semester (usually not the first semester), must be in good academic standing, and register for a class that is not offered at their home campus.

Admission is test-optional. However, if they submit test scores, they do not need an essay or recommendation letters (they can submit if they’d like but they’re not required). Without test score, applicants need both the letters and the essay. They will need to submit test scores for any honors program. Qualified students will be invited to apply to general honors, Women in Stem Honors (WISH) or Women in Business Honors. Regular Honors provides a $1500 scholarship; the others award $2500.

In the past years, they’ve held a Signature Scholarship Competition (the rep isn’t sure it’s happening next year). Interested students write an essay of up to 750 words on the yearly theme (last year’s was Curiosity). 40 students got invited to campus in February to compete for a Full Tuition scholarship, but everyone who came got additional money.

© 2019

Simmons College

Simmons College (visited 9/13/17)

Simmons rooftop 2

A rooftop garden on the library with the Boston skyline in the distance

“This is the perfect combination of small school and big place,” said one of our tour guides. The school offers all the benefits of an 1800 student undergrad community on a small campus combined with the resources of the Colleges of the Fenway Consortium (students have access to 2,300 classes!) and Boston. As students they have access to a lot of reduced price attractions; the tour guides were particularly excited about the $7 cinema tickets (with reclining chairs) and $10 aquarium tickets.

Simmons signAlthough this is single-gender (the only women’s college right in Boston), “Wentworth is literally across the street, and they’re 85% male, so we kind of balance each other out!” Six schools make up the Colleges of the Fenway (The Fens is the name of the park is directly across the street, so the Fenway is the area around the park). Simmons sits just about in the middle of the group, and their Residential Quad is a block from Main Campus (actually right across from Emmanuel). The dining hall and health center (“which is incredible,” said the tour guide) are both in the Res Quad. Housing is guaranteed for all 4 years; freshmen are required to live on campus. There are college-owned apartments about a 7-10 minute walk from campus but are considered “on campus” and have RAs there. The tour guide loved living there: “It’s a comfort and independence thing.” For students wanting to move off campus, it’s easy to find off-campus housing through Facebook etc.

Simmons quad arial

The quad from the roof of the library

This college lives up to its commitment to diversity, and students themselves are invested in it. “People have really great perspectives,” said one student. Seventeen Magazine named Simmons in their Top 20 Gay-friendly Schools list, and this was one of the first to have a defined admission policy for transgender students: if you were born OR identify as female, you can apply. “People here are really respectful of pronouns.” There’s also good religious diversity and “people are from everywhere.” There were students wearing hijab and necklaces with Arabic writing. Both Kosher and Halal meals are served on campus.

simmons loungePeople hold doors for others. “We’re treated like adults and we act like it. It’s not catty here. There’s no drama. It’s not a party school. I picked Simmons because I wanted people with the same goals.”

Their academics place a strong emphasis on professional preparation. In addition to the ubiquitous career center found in colleges everywhere, Simmons makes sure that every department has a staff member or professor whose job it is to help find those opportunities. Some of the academics programs or departments worth noting are:

© 2017

Salem College

Salem College (visited 3/17/17)

Salem main buildings

Some of the main buildings from the historic park (people in costumes were doing school programs). The Moravian church is in the distance.

Salem is impressive and seems to have its act together. This historical women’s college sits in the middle of historic Salem (complete with people in period-costumes giving tours), minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. The Welcome Center is in the original building built in the 1700s by the Moravian Sisters who walked down here from Bethlehem, PA. Although founded on Moravian traditions, they’re no longer affiliated but hold onto some traditions. There’s a large Moravian Church adjacent to campus; they hold a candlelight Christmas service every year followed by a traditional chicken pie dinner for all students who want to attend.

Salem transwomen banner“The diversity here surprised me,” said the rep, herself a recent graduate of Salem. “It’s not the stereotypical southern school.” She says that it’s “heavily liberal” and estimates that about 70% would self-identify as Democrats. About half the students come from NC with the highest numbers of out-of-state students coming from Texas (accounting for much of their Latina population), then MD, VA, and SC. They have clubs for all faiths and ethnicities.

Salem historic park

The Center for Inclusiveness and Diversity sits on the far end of the park.

Their Center for Inclusiveness and Diversity sits physically in the middle of campus “because why not put it front and center? We want it to be important.” They hold Round Tables and Open Mics on Wednesdays, discussing everything from politics to current events to ethnic relations. “It’s all about education and discussion,” said the tour guide. “They even did one on hair once.” It’s a safe space, and sometimes faculty aren’t allowed to attend so students can openly discuss issues. Other times, faculty will lead the round tables.

Salem walkway“A lot of women don’t want to come to a women’s college because they don’t want the drama. Of course, you eliminate the men which often cause the drama.” This isn’t to say that they’re living in a bubble. They’re in a city with other universities around (UNC School of the Arts is a little over a mile away, and Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State are also in town; add High Point and all the Greensboro schools, and there are huge numbers of college students within 45 minutes). “The drama here is about people coming from different backgrounds. People learn from each other. They grow because of it.” The rep told a story about initially having problems with a woman on her hall until she realized the behavior was from upbringing and just not knowing anything else; the two of them ended up talking and learning from each other and were in each other’s weddings.

Salem porch

The back porch of the main building backing onto one of many courtyards

The fact that Salem is so centrally located among other colleges means expanded opportunities. Students get free tickets to Wake Forest and some Winston-Salem State games and are free to join their Color Guards among other things. Almost 1/3 of Wake’s Color Guard comes from Salem, including their Drum Major for the past 3 years.

Salem dorm 1

One of the dorms on campus

All students live on campus unless they commute from home or there are extenuating circumstances (medical issues, etc). There are some off-campus suites within walking distance that are college-owned. These are within easy walking distance (5-7 minutes according to the tour guide), but all students can have cars. Parking costs $60 a year and is relatively easy to find. They can also use bikes that they check out at the student center. Dorms have open visitation policies: in the freshmen dorms, males can visit 24 hours on weekends (until midnight during the week) with all-week 24-hour visitation in upperclass dorms.

Salem 1Food rates a 7 on a 1-10 scale. The main dining hall is the traditional all-you-can-eat, but there’s also the Café where students can get sandwiches and other grab-an-go items. They get 4 meal exchanges per week that they can use at the café, no more than 1 per day. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the school brings Chic-fil-a sandwiches to the Café. “It starts at 11:30 and goes until they run out.”

Salem fountainDowntown is a 7-10 minute walk from campus giving students access to the Innovation Quarter, film festivals, all the businesses and stores. They do lots of internships in town including working in the Wake hospitals or labs. There’s also a ton going on on campus (including movies in the theater, often with popcorn. “Students bring blankets and pillows. It’s great!” said the tour guide. “If you’re bored here, it’s because you aren’t leaving your room.”

Salem art bldg

The arts building with greenhouse windows to let light into the studios.

A favorite tradition is Fall Fest which serves as a type of homecoming (there’s obviously no football). The students get the Wednesday after Labor Day off (they don’t get that Monday off), and they hold a day-long competition between classes including skits, singing competitions, and more. The Freshman get their Big Sisters on that day.

Classes are actively discussion or hand-on based with classes topping out in the 20s. The January Term classes tend to be more experiential; these were the tour guide’s favorites. One of them focused on prep for law school and careers in the field; they shadowed people, had deans from law schools talk to them, went to court houses, etc. The tour guide’s largest class was 23 in an intro class and 7 in a seminar. The Honor Code allows them to self-schedule exams during the week-long exam periods.

Sciences are strong with the usual majors offered (bio, chem, biochem, and envi sci). Chairs in labs are built for a female body, taking into account the bigger hip ratio and shape of the back. The environmental, eco-friendly movement is strong around campus. For example, the confetti at graduation is all biodegradable, and students are given reusable coffee mugs when they arrive so they don’t throw coffee cups in the trash.

Salem art gallery

One of many gallery spaces in the art building

Arts are a big deal at Salem. The have a huge fine arts building; the bottom floor has greenhouse windows for light. The building is full of display spaces. Students can major in Art, Studio Art, Art Management, Design, and Art History with minors/certificates/concentrations in Historic Preservation, Interior Design, Architectural Studies, and Visual Literature.

Salem May Dell

The May Dell Amphitheater

May Dell Amphitheater is a central point on campus. Orientation and graduation are both held there (among other events in good weather). At orientation, this is where they sign the honor code. A couple years ago, they started a new tradition where students “get their daisies,” the signature flower of the school. “It’s a cool ceremony; I’m sad they started right after my year!” said the tour guide, a junior. “Students walk up, a little like graduation, and are handed a daisy by the president. The idea is that we get a daisy now and the diploma later. We come full circle at May Dell.”

© 2017

 

Bennett College

Bennett College (visited 3/15/17)

Bennett chapel

The chapel sits on the far end of the quad

Interestingly, this small women’s college began as a coed institution. Started in 1873 in a church basement, it was later moved to the current site when several freed slaves bought the property, but retained its affiliation with the Methodist church. About 50 years later, it was changed to single-sex. It’s in a fairly residential area of Greensboro, not far from downtown. A city bus stops on campus making the area highly accessible for the students.

This is a tiny school with less than 500 undergraduate students, about half of whom come from outside North Carolina. The students who thrive here “want a small community, are looking for networks, and want to stay in contact with profs,” said the rep. Students who leave are ones who find the pace of life too slow here. Their mascot is the “Bennett Belle” and that really speaks to who they are. “Students have a manner of moving here, a way of carrying themselves.”

Bennett 2

Quad with a volleyball net

“There are always things to do. We’re small. We need people who will step up and get things done, form clubs, whatever,” said the rep. She said that students love the sisterhood here. It’s inclusive. “Students need to pool together. They need to make things happen. Students can’t be onlookers here. I’ve seen some students who have expected things to happen for them – work, entertainment – but they’re the ones who need to step up.”

Bennett new bldg

New Global Studies building

If it gets too small or they need a class not offered on Bennett’s campus, students are welcome to take advantage of the consortium in the Greensboro area. The Heat bus runs loops to all the campuses in the area, and many Bennett students got to A&T or even Elon.

Psychology, biology, and journalism/media are their most popular majors. They have a new Global Studies building.

Traditions include:

  • Initial Convocation: students sign the registry and become official Bennett students. They wear all white for the ceremony.
  • Big/Little Sisters
  • Senior Day: seniors get their superlatives.
  • Graduation when they’re allowed to walk through the gates; these open only at certain times of the year.
  • Convocations are held for an hour on Thursdays. They bring in a range of people from authors to political figures. Oprah, Danny Glover, and Maya Angelou have all come.
Bennett 3

Another building on the quad

For admissions, they’re looking for at least a 2.4 GPA but they have an Emerging Scholars program for students falling below that; students in ES come to campus over the summer to complete 6 credits in math and science. They’re also “test flexible” – they do want scores but have no minimum number that they’re looking for.

Bennett is struggling a bit financially, and they do have a low graduation rate (a little under 50% within 6 years), but at just under $27,000 for tuition, room, and board, this is a great deal. Shy, unsure students will blossom and find a place here. “It’s not for everyone, but if someone needs some care and pushing, this is the place.”

© 2017

Hollins College

Hollins College (visited 11/2/16)

hollins-4

One of the Academic Buildings

Hollins “is transformative. We enhance what’s there,” said a faculty member.

Hollins, named the 3rd Most Haunted campus in the country (the Tinker ghost got particular mention), is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. “We’re not going anywhere but up,” said one of the Deans. This beautiful liberal arts university, dedicated to educating young women, takes an approach based on depth and breadth, both academically and co-curricularly.

hollins-indoor-ring

The indoor rink during one of the lessons

The equestrian program is of special note. A rider from Oregon told us, “I didn’t even know this place existed until they contacted me! They have one of the best writing programs and riding programs in the country; it’s great.” Usually they get about 45 riders per semester of all levels, “but we have the horsepower to do more.” The school-owned horses are donated, and students can board their own for $1100 a month (full-service including turnout: “if they need a buddy or are used to being on their own, we’ll make that happen,” said one of the riding coaches). The barn manager lives on premises.

hollins-horse-fields-4

Some of the outdoor areas for the equestrian programs

Riders are students first; they work lessons around academics. They teach hunter-seat but welcome riders from other styles (stock seat, dressage, saddle seat). They have a range of horses up to show-horses to accommodate all levels. Riders on the equestrian team pay $1195 per semester which includes 2 lessons a week, coaching, and all fees for travel and competition. “Students who ride regularly know that’s a deal.”

Beyond the Equestrian program, things that differentiate Hollins include:

  • The Internship program:
    • These often happen during January Term. Students get stipends, many from alumna who will come back to run workshops and other programs for students. “Speed Connection” (like speed dating) helps make connections. Alumna even help with small things like finding housing.
    • Students intern at places like National Geographic, Amas Musical Theater, Wiley Publishing, the National Cathedral, and the National Dance Institute.
  • Research: There is no honors program, but students have the option to participate in honors seminars starting first year.
  • Study abroad: they run specific historic programs in London and Paris
  • Leadership classes, including how to negotiate such things as their first pay raise. The Batton Leadership Institute comes with a scholarship. It challenges students to think outside the box.

hollins-quadI appreciate that Hollins is deliberate in their curriculum. A Dean said that they’ve been working with the following questions: What capacities do we and our students need to address the challenging issues of the 21st century? Are we doing what we need to do for students to be successful, in however they define success? Do we have the right co-curricular options in place? The answers to these have led to a few recent changes to curriculum:

hollins-libraryA few other academic programs worth mentioning include:

  • The 3-year Accelerated Program: Students need to elect this coming in, maintain a minimum GPA, and complete 40-44 credits per year.
  • Their Creative Writing program graduates 30+ seniors each year.
  • Certificates in Arts Management, Leadership, Piano Teaching, and Musical Theater Performance.
  • Their theater department has been ranked #19 for Best College Theater, and they offer a London Theater Immersion

hollins-chapel-2Faculty are teachers first and invested in the students. A handful live on campus. Students babysit for them and get invited home for breaks. However, they’re also experts in what they do and have a lot to brag about including being a 2015 National Book Finalist, having won a $100,000 Mellon grant for professional development, an NSF grant for technology in early education, and an award for best article in Critical Race Theory (Sociology).

hollins-5NSSE information allows Hollins to compare themselves to peer institutions: They’ve ranked Better or Much Better on: Asking questions, class presentations, working with classmates on projects, discussing academic work outside of class, writing and speaking clearly, and effectively working with others. Students here solve real world problems. The video “Women who are going places start at Hollins” is worth seeing.

The students like the all-female environment. “You can be yourself. You don’t have to fit into a group. People will love you for it. I’m shy. My roommate hugged me when I arrived. I’ve never felt so loved or accepted. You get the opportunities you ask for. Sky’s the limit. People do unimaginable things. If you take the initiative, they’ll figure out how to help you!” said a student sitting with us at dinner.

hollins-barn-dogs

Some of the dogs at the barn

They also want people to know that a women’s college doesn’t mean they’re cut off from other people. Students get involved in the Roanoke community: “We have a cool downtown!” and shuttles take students to the mall, downtown, and Target. The Amtrak will start coming back through in 2017 and flights from the Roanoke airport go to major hubs. They can get taxi vouchers to the airport. Roanoke College (coed) and Hampden-Sydney (all male) are “right down the road, and they [HSC] have a Women’s House for people to stay in if we visit campus.”

hollins-mt-tinker

Tinker Mountain from the Library

A favorite tradition is Tinker Day: classes get cancelled, and people get dressed up in wacky costumes and hike up Tinker <ountain (“The average person can hike it in 1.5-2 hours”). Another favorite thing is the Therapy Dog program (and several dogs hang out at the barn). Finally, there’s Ring Night: Seniors adopt juniors who get their rings. They have to “Earn” them: they’re given tasks (singing songs, etc) by freshmen and sophomores. Then the juniors get a box of things for senior year such as a bottle of apple cider for the beginning of the year. The “First Step” is when seniors step on the front quad in the fall: they decorate their gown, step on campus, and get sprayed with cider.

Last year’s 224 freshman was the largest incoming class in 17 years. The Admission office promises an answer (including scholarship information) in 2 weeks as long as applicants have submitted a FAFSA. They’re need-blind for admissions but aggressive with scholarships. “What does it hurt to apply?” said one rep; a student at dinner told us that it was cheaper for her to come here than to go to her state school. They have a special Secular Society Scholarship: it’s not just for the best grades but for students who show a “glimmer of moxie” and will contribute to the larger community and world.

© 2016

Trinity Washington University

Trinity Washington University (visited 9/13/16)

twu-sign

The interior of the main building.

Students who thrive here are those who want an education in an urban environment, a women’s-college educational environment, and who are more concerned with individual competitiveness than competing against others. “Lots of our students have overcome academic or other difficulties. We empower women to find their voices and intellectual lens.”

Some students may be initially reluctant about a woman’s college, but “we’re not about excluding or taking anything away. Instead, we want to support them,” said the Director of Admissions. There were certainly guys around campus, and with the university’s location directly in between Catholic University of America and Howard University (each less than a mile away), there’s no shortage of other college students around.

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The main, original building housing offices, classrooms, and more. One of the main statues “looks on.”

The Undergraduate School of Liberal Arts and Sciences is still single-gender. Men are accepted to the university’s graduate programs (Education, Professional Studies, and Business).

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The Chapel

This is a Catholic institution, but nothing is required (but there’s a beautiful chapel on campus for those who are interested). “We’re committed to the whole person here.” This is very much a regional institution right now (90% of their students come from DC and the MD/VA counties immediately surrounding it), although they’re reaching further afield as time goes on. They do have students on campus from CA, VA, NC, and other states. “It’s part of our mission to serve from local neighborhoods, to look out for our own.” They work very hard to provide access to education to students who might not otherwise feel that they do have access to higher education.

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The new Science Academic building

Brookline, a Red line metro stop, is a 10-15-minute walk from campus. Shuttles run back and forth every 20 minutes, “but it’s an easy walk, and lots of people do that.” Parking costs $45 per semester, but few people drive despite this being very much a commuter campus. Their residence halls hold about 250 students, and they first fit in students who come from a distance. Generally only freshmen and sophomores live in campus housing. They take security very seriously; people have to show ID upon entering buildings around campus.

twu-gardenDespite very few students living on campus, there are plenty of extra-curriculars available. They offer sever DIII sports with soccer being the most competitive. “Lots of kids play it in high school.” Everyone can play. There are currently about 50 clubs, all student-run. There are no active sororities; students who are interested may connect with groups at Howard or American.

Their sciences (including health sciences) are strong, and they now have a brand new building with labs, simulation labs for nursing, and more. They offer many typical undergraduate degrees. A few notable exceptions are:

  • Occupational Therapy Assistant: This is a 2-year AA degree. Students in the School of Professional Studies who complete this can transition right into a Bachelor’s in psychology, health science, or human relations. This allows them to work in the field as an OT assistant, get experience, earn some money, and continue their education if they choose to do so. They do not offer an OT Bachelor’s, but they do offer a Master’s in this field.
  • Human Relations: this combines psych and sociology.
  • Forensic Science: housed in the College of Arts and Science, this combines biology, chemistry, and criminal justice.
  • Business Management with specializations in Human Resource Management or Hospitality Management

Tuition is charged by the credit ($700 each), even for students registered as full-time. The university awards a leadership scholarship up to $10,000 which would cover about half of full-time tuition for the year. Applications are done online and are free. They’re also test-optional. They admit 2 cohorts: spring and fall with fall seeing the largest influx of new students.

© 2016

 

Notre Dame University of Maryland

Notre Dame University of Maryland (visited 2/19/15)

Notre Dame swingND is a lovely, small campus in a residential neighborhood of northern Baltimore. It borders Loyola University; the two campuses share a library, and are the first universities in the country to do so. ND’s traditional undergraduate division, the Women’s College, is still single-sex, but the graduate and evening/weekend (“Adult Undergraduate”) programs accept men.

The admissions people are friendly, helpful, and will go WAY out of their way for visitors. I was highly impressed with their dedication and humor. My local rep is a recent alumnae of Notre Dame; she gave me a tour so I got perspectives from both sides of the desk.

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Main building

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Chapel

Started in 1895 by the Sisters of Notre Dame, nuns still live on the top floors of the main building. The Chapel, built just a year after the college was started, occupies the 2nd floor of the same building. Almost all the windows are still original; a couple panes have been replaced over the years, but they had the original designs that were copied. The paintings in the chapel were done by students and alumnae. Although it does not fit all 450 undergrads, it is a comfortable size and accommodates all students wishing to attend Mass (offered every day but never required). There are also several small prayer/reflection spaces (including a Muslim prayer space) in the dorms and other locations around campus. Students must take 1 upper-level religion class as part of their distribution requirements but there are a lot of options such as Christian Ethics or Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Admissions Rep giving me the tour had taken this; she went to services at a Mosque and a Temple as part of the class.

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Step Up stairs and window

Notre Dame auditoriumSeveral of the buildings (including the main building, an academic building, and the athletic complex) are connected which was especially nice on the very cold day that I visited campus! One of these buildings has the staircase and stained glass window made famous in the movie “Step Up” with Channing Tatum. They also used the auditorium (which got trashed in the movie). This auditorium is used for large group gatherings such as guest lecturers and Honors Convocation. At HC, the freshmen get the cap and gown that they’ll graduate in. “It’s a great bonding experience. We’re all in there pretty tightly and have to help each other get everything on and looking good.” After that, they sign the honors pledge and get more privileges. Before Convocation (held usually about the 2nd week of school), “there are certain things we can’t do like have guests in the dorm. I think it’s supposed to be so we focus on making friends and getting used to life on campus.” After they sign the pledge, they can have guests, have unproctored exams, etc. “That was a new experience for me. Professors would give out the exams and then tell us that they would be in their office if we needed them.” I asked her how seriously people took this. “Really seriously. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone cheating on test. There’s an Honor Council if anyone got reported, but I don’t know of anyone who even went to that.”

Notre Dame dorm

Dorm

The University pulls many students in from the surrounding area. 80% of the students come from Maryland, and only about 45% live on campus. Housing is good, comfortable, and attractive. Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors live in single-sex housing. Seniors can choose to live in single-sex housing or move to another dorm that also houses graduate students and is therefore co-ed. They have both a dining hall and Gator Alley, but neither is open late. Students can walk over to Loyola if they want a late-night option, but they will pay separately for that.

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Bird feeders on campus

As a member of the Baltimore Consortium, students can register for classes at other institutions in the area including Goucher, Towson, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, MICA, Morgan State, and University of Baltimore. A free Circulator bus runs from Towson and Goucher (located north of Notre Dame) down to Penn Station (near MICA and UBalt). It’s easy to get around to other campuses. From Penn Station, students can also take a Baltimore bus to Inner Harbor and other locations around town, so even though they can have cars on campus, it’s not necessary.

Notre Dame dorm lounge

A dorm lounge

The student body is highly diverse. About half of the student body are women of color. They pull in students from about 15 other states and almost as many countries. They have an International Center which offers an 8-10 week intensive English Institute in the summers to students who need help with English before classes start. 

Nursing is highly regarded, as are the Radiological Sciences and the 4+3 Pharmacy programs. Students interested in Engineering complete a 3-2 program, earning an BA from Notre Dame and a BS from Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, or Columbia University. Students can complete a 5-year BA/MA in Business/Management and Teaching/Education. Other notable majors include Marketing Communications, Behavioral Neuroscience, Criminology, and Environmental Sustainability.

(c) 2015

Agnes Scott College

AGNES SCOTT COLLEGE (visited 3/6/13)

P1010222I 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.

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Library

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.

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Chapel

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.

AS 1P1010221Princeton 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.”

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Dining Hall

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.

(c) 2013

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