Rasheedah PhillipsWhy Bryn Mawr?As a young woman growing up in an urbanized setting and attending public schools all of my life, when the time came to start planning and searching for colleges, I searched for schools that I felt fit my persona, that I would be comfortable attending for some of the most integral years of my life. My search included schools such as Temple University, and Pennsylvania State University, higher education institutions that allowed me to challenge myself, but at the same time would put me in a setting where I would be with others just like myself, fitting into the standard American university fashion.
The thought of an all women’s college never once crossed my mind in envisioning my “perfect school”, and when it was introduced to me, it was through the prodding of a high school counselor who felt that my intelligence would be better realized and liberated at a school such as Bryn Mawr. After carefully researching Bryn Mawr and all it had to offer as an elite academic institution with stringent admissions requirements and its strong reputation as one of the best liberal art colleges in the nation, I had little doubt that, as far as my intellect and devotion to a rigorous curriculum went, I could run with the best of them.
But I remained skeptical that, socially, financially, mentally, and to some degree, academically, I could fit in with the top women in the country who got accepted into a school such as this. I certainly had my biases about all-women colleges, and to find that Bryn Mawr was the best of the best certainly did not help to curb them; if anything, it created more.
My prejudices remained intact up until the day of my scheduled campus visit, overnight stay, and interview on October 7-8, 2001. Stepping up to the door of the admissions office, many of my resolves all but dissolved, as I was kindly greeted by several groups of women who guided me through registration, campus tours, alumnae speeches, and a most excellent dinner, attended by the College President and a presentation of classical music played by four talented young women. I was absolutely enthralled by the beauty of the campus, and pleasantly taken aback by the size, cleanliness, and grandeur of the residence halls. Though these things did help to curtail much of my cynicism about the “all-women college”, I believe that the experience that really attracted me to Bryn Mawr began when my hostess picked me up in the admissions office.
Immediately after taking me back to her dorm room, she made me drop off my things and invited me on the “unofficial tour from the student perspective”, which is what I liked to call it. She showed me things and told me things that I knew I would not be able to get from a viewbook or from a million speeches about the splendors of Bryn Mawr or the value of a Bryn Mawr education. She addressed my questions exactly as I asked them and as I wanted to hear them, telling me not only the advantages, but giving me a straight run of the disadvantages as well. As she introduced me to many of her friends, I began to understand that Bryn Mawr did not specialize in admitting only certain women from certain types of backgrounds, but that every young woman from every circumstance, upbringing, and walk of life was represented equally, and that they were all welcome with open arms. As the girls described the traditions and the code of honor that Bryn Mawr held, I found a university that was not only dedicated to educating and creating well-rounded women to become the future leaders of the world, but that they were also devoted to creating a rich and invigorating new culture within their walls that would set these women up with the morals and standards that would carry over to every-and-anything that they would see as a challenge in life, and help them to defeat it. These are the things that attracted me to Bryn Mawr College; the women there who were just like me in so many ways, but different enough that we can learn things that no textbook could provide, and the traditions and honors that will eventually instill confidence, respect, and responsibility to every woman who has the privilege of participating in them.
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