Steeped in tradition, Bryn Mawr College is about 20 minutes outside of Center City Philadelphia, a few minutes’ walk from the SEPTA commuter train’s Bryn Mawr station. One of the original “Seven Sister” colleges, Bryn Mawr is a women’s liberal arts college with about 1300 undergraduate students.
There are a few things that make the Bryn Mawr education distinctive. One is the 360-degree program, in which students and faculty look at a common theme that crosses academic disciplines. For example, different faculty from the English, Sociology and Spanish departments would help students see the concept of human migration from different angles. Some 360 “clusters,” as they are known, include a field (or study abroad) component. This unique approach reminded me of the way that the “one-course-at-a-time” colleges, Cornell College (in Iowa) and Colorado College, teach their blocks, Aside from these two, this approach seems fairly unique among liberal arts colleges (interesting upcoming clusters here).
Bryn Mawr students also have the option to take classes at either Haverford College, which is just over a mile down the road, or Swarthmore College, about 10 miles away, through a consortium program the three Quaker-founded colleges share. The cross-registration is so open that some Bryn Mawr students major within programs at these other colleges! Haverford has music and theatre majors; the fine arts major is at Bryn Mawr. Students also have combined extra-curricular activities, with a shuttle bus bringing students among the three schools. Bryn Mawr students are also able to register for classes at the University of Pennsylvania, which is a 20-minute train ride into Philadelphia. Bryn Mawr students can engage with other colleges within the consortium academically or socially, but they still have the very close relationships of this small liberal arts women’s college.
About a third of Bryn Mawr students major in the STEM fields, a significant number for a college of this size. The self-government association and honor code are hallmarks of the Bryn Mawr education. Forty percent of Bryn Mawr students go abroad, most of them in their junior year.
Students also partake in various traditions throughout the year, including the presentation of the lanterns, and May Day. Alumnae don’t ask each other what class year they are; they ask what color their lantern is.
The Bryn Mawr campus is beautiful and truly offers students the best of both worlds – they live and study on a beautiful, close-knit campus just minutes outside of a major metropolitan city.
Bryn Mawr went test-optional in 2015. Test scores are not required for admission but they are still determining how to best use test scores for merit scholarship purposes.
Debbie and Evelyn visited the bucolic campus of Bryn Mawr College in June, 2016. You can scroll through all of our photos below.