Four years ago I was a high school senior applying early decision to Bryn Mawr College. I remember the first time I stepped foot on campus, I attended an information session followed by a tour. By the end of the day, I thought to myself “I think I found the place to be.” Today I couldn’t be more grateful to be at Bryn Mawr. Here are the reasons why.
- The Location
Growing up just outside Boston, I knew I wanted to be close to a large city. I’m so used to going to shopping malls, eating in restaurants and seeing the many places a city has to offer. Bryn Mawr is located about 15 miles away from Philadelphia, which is the largest city in Pennsylvania. I can take the SEPTA into the city. Though it’s a little far, I think it’s nice to have that option if I was in the mood for a city day. I have gone into Philadelphia to get a cheesesteak, buy clothes at the Shops for Liberty Place, visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art and more.
- The Wide Array of Academic Opportunities Both On and Off-Campus
Bryn Mawr has countless enriching academic opportunities and provides outside-the-classroom experiences. When I heard about the 360 program, I was easily drawn to it. This interdisciplinary program allows students to take two or three courses centered around an idea and have an outside of classroom experience. For example, a cluster on Climate Change has classes in Global Politics, Mathematics and Sustainability and Technology. Students learn about this major issue from three different perspectives and they get to travel to Freiburg in Germany to examine the environment. I may not have gotten the chance to be able to do a 360 but I’m grateful for the many other opportunities Bryn Mawr has to offer.
Bryn Mawr has a very close partnership with Haverford College, which is only ten minutes away by the Blue Bus. This partnership is known as the Bi College Consortium or colloquially “the Bi-Co.” Students from Bryn Mawr and Haverford can go on each other’s campuses to take classes, major there, eat in the dining halls, study in the libraries, go to club events and go to parties. There are even a few students who live on each other’s campuses. Students also have the opportunity to take classes at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania. Being in a consortium is a great way to have as many opportunities a large university would offer while not giving up the personal attention from a small college. Taking classes at Haverford has given me a change of pace from spending time on a small campus 24/7 and I hope to branch out to Swat or Penn for my last semester as an undergraduate student.
- The Honor Code
Bryn Mawr has an Honor Code that influences the campus both academically and socially in numerous ways. Exams are never proctored and are often self-scheduled. When I visited a dorm, I saw students leave their belongings outside their dorm rooms and their toiletries inside the bathroom. Are there RAs at Bryn Mawr? Never heard of them! There are HAs, who don’t try to punish students but rather act as a resource, community-builder and conflict mediator. There’s a high sense of trust between students and faculty members and I knew I wanted that. I really like having the autonomy to choose when to take my exams if they’re self-scheduled, and I like feeling trusted.
- The Traditions
When I first heard of the traditions, I wanted to be a part of them. Parade Night, Lantern Night, Hell Week and May Day: they’re all centered around welcoming the first years and building community. I wanted to get my very own light blue lantern and eat strawberries and cream for breakfast and then dance to Dar Williams’ “As Cool As I Am” while wearing a white dress and a flower crown on my head. I proudly carry my lantern in my dorm. May Day always gives me something to look forward to as it begins with getting May Day Gifts delivered to my dorm and it’s celebrated all day long on the Sunday following the last day of Spring classes.
Most importantly, empowerment is everywhere. Math and biology, which are traditionally catered to cis men, are some of the most popular majors here. Unfortunately, even today, there’s still so much implicit bias in STEM classes where men tend to go ahead while women often lose out. Many students do research for professors. I remember at the information session listening to one of the admissions counselors speak who graduated only a few months ago. I’ve been empowered in so many ways big and small: having the autonomy to pursue my own academic and extracurricular interests, joining a club before I even began my freshman year or providing insight on how to support the special needs community. Whether I am a part of the Student Advisory Committee or interning at the Boston Medical Center, participating in a bootcamp at the Harvard Business School (which has made me potentially interested in getting an MBA in the near future), having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study abroad for a semester at the University of Sussex in England, getting selected to be a part of the Seniors for the Bryn Mawr Fund Committee to raise money for the Senior Gift or getting words of encouragement from my classmates, professors and other staff members whenever I needed it, I know I made the right choice in choosing Bryn Mawr.
As a current senior, when I look back on my last three years and look forward to the rest of the year, I think about how grateful I am to have made the decision to come to Bryn Mawr for my college career. To anyone reading this, I hope that wherever your life takes you, you’ll find a sense of fulfillment in whatever opportunities come your way.